Valerie Kathawala

Valerie grew up in suburban New Jersey, a place that somehow never quite felt like home. Auspiciously, her first trip abroad was to Germany, at age 3. From then on, she found ways to immerse herself in German and Austrian culture, studying in Cologne and Salzburg, writing her undergraduate thesis at Bates College on the works of German Romantic composers. With a strong taste for Schubert and Beethoven, not to mention a host of German authors, Alpine hiking, functional public transportation, and late-afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen, she had no choice but to move to Germany. She lived and worked in Munich for three years, honing her language skills and sharpening her appetite for German food and wine. With a generous vacation allowance of six weeks each year and Italy just a quick train ride away, she frequently rigged up her backpack and took off to explore the northern parts of that country.

When she returned to the U.S., she settled in New York City. She landed a dream job as a writer and translator for the German government at its mission to the United Nations. At that time, the staff cafeteria was headed by two young Austrian chefs, the future Michelin-starred Eduard Fraueneder and Wolfgang Bann. Every lunch was a chance to go deeper into German and Austrian cuisine — and wine. A consuming riesling obsession quickly emerged, followed by a broader, contextual interest in the wine cultures of both countries.

When Valerie stepped back from the working world to have and raise her three children together with her husband, she unwittingly set up the perfect conditions for becoming a serious student of wine. In between playground visits, she found herself indulging a growing curiosity about the contents of her nightly glass of sanity, uh, wine. It soon became clear this was a pursuit that required focused study. Valerie earned her WSET 3 advanced certification, studied Italian native grapes under preeminent expert, Ian D’Agata, and began to write on a freelance basis about her trio of wine loves: Austria, Germany, and northern Italy.

Valerie is thrilled to be a contributing writer for Schatzi Wines. She cherishes the opportunity to learn from such accomplished and expert colleagues. She considers it an honor and a joy to dive into the intensive research that allows her to tell the stories of the truly extraordinary producers represented here.