Diveristy in Friendship
by Antone R.E. Pierucci
Seven-Year Master Mason
Saddleback-Laguna No. 672
By Ian A. Stewart
California Freemason: I understand you’re something of a wine expert. How did you first get involved in wine consulting?
George Fernandez: I lived in Italy for a year when I was in college, and obviously wine is a big part of the culture there. I remember I went to a big chianti tasting in Greve and had a blast, and after that I always made finding and trying wine a part of all my traveling. That’s where the flame was ignited. Then, when I got out of college, I started working as a salesman for a European wine conglomerate that was trying to grow its market in Southern California through selling to private collectors and providing drinks for big events.
CFM: That’s pretty heady stuff for a 20-something. Not exactly Two-Buck Chuck.
GF: Right. I wasn’t playing “slap the bag” in college.
CFM: What was it like talking wine with people who were already really knowledgeable about it?
GF: It can be a little intimidating, but I always rested on the fact that even if I was dealing with someone with more experience than me, I had more of a history with the particular varietal I was sharing with them. I always educated myself on a bottle to the point where no one in the room knew more about that wine than me.
CFM: Do you have any favorites or specialty varietals that you’ve sold
GF: Yes, a particular grape called carmenère, which people for a long time thought had gone extinct. But in the mid-1990s it was rediscovered in Chile, where they’d thought it was a merlot grape because they look very similar. But it was actually this long-lost grape from Bordeaux. It gives a lot of the character to the Bordeaux profile, that hint of spice and pepper.
CFM: Now you’re in technology sales. What made you change gears?
GF: I had broken off on my own and was doing consulting for restaurants, and I saw some potential there, but it’s a hard industry. At the end of the day, as much as I love wine, tech pays better. [Laughs]
CFM: I take it you’re still your lodge’s go-to sommelier, though.
GF: Oh yeah. I’ve done lots of events with brothers, like grand openings for restaurants. And if we go out to eat, people will ask me for advice. I even get calls from our worshipful like, “Hey, I’m standing in the wine aisle at Ralphs, what should I get?” That kind of stuff is fun for me.
Russ Hennings/Moonbeam Studios