By Linnea Frazier
If you have ever visited the Tablas Creek tasting room, it is more than likely that you are familiar with Evelyne Fodor. We hear, again and again, that you cannot help but fall in love with the world she creates, and with her velvet French accent. She is also in charge of the merchandise of our tasting room as well as the training of our new tasting room associates.
Not only could I listen to her speak about wine for hours, but (needless to say) she is also my go-to for not screwing up the pronunciation on our more obscure varietals. One of the first things she ever told me was that wine is “pure emotion. It is about the relationship that you have with not only your glass but from the place the wine came from. Don’t ever forget that.”
I caught up with Evelyne recently to ask her about her journey from Lyon, in the Rhone Valley, to Paso Robles.
Where were you born and raised?
I grew up in Lyon, France. Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France and is also conveniently located between the Beaujolais and Rhone regions, which are the wines I grew up drinking. I moved to Los Angeles after meeting my husband in the South of France and became fascinated with Paso Robles while visiting winemaker friends. In 2012 we decided to take the leap and sold our house in LA and moved to Paso.
Tell me about how you started working at Tablas.
Just a few weeks after moving to Paso, a sommelier friend from NYC came to Paso to visit wineries in the area and I went along with her. She had a long list of wineries on her agenda, one of which was Tablas. We came and did a Collector’s Tasting. At the end of it we were both so charmed that my friend ended up joining the club and I applied for a position in the tasting room that very night.
What is your role here at Tablas?
I serve as a wine consultant and Tasting Room Sales Lead. My role is to bring my wine expertise, my educational skills, and sales experience to promote our wines. Recently, I also took over responsibility of tasting room merchandise as well.
How would you describe the style of what we offer here at Tablas in terms of merchandising?
I have the opportunity to shop and select merchandise that reflects the integrity and style of our brand. That’s why we promote local artists such as Heidi Petersen and her beautiful organic pottery, the eco-friendly Tablas branded clothing from Patagonia or our French influences with books by French-American cookbook writer Pascale Beale, Patrick Comiskey’s American Rhône, and an assortment of books on our Châteauneuf-du-Pape origins. I also have introduced unique French manufacturers including Gien tableware and fabrics from Le Jaquard Francais, high quality, distinctive gifts that pair well with our own Tablas wines.
I like to remind visitors that while wine can be complex and intimidating, its focus is all about the good things in life; good food, great company, and wonderful memories.
Which are your other favorite wines or wineries locally or around the world?
Locally, I am a huge a fan of Lone Madrone. Here again Neil Collins delivers wines that are unique and distinctive; characteristically balanced with structure and finesse. I especially like his take on Nebbiolo and Chenin Blanc. I also recently had two very interesting tasting room experiences outside the Paso area. I found the staff very engaging at The Ojai Vineyard and immensely enjoyed a food and wine pairing at Ridge Vineyard. These wineries and their wines have in common with Tablas integrity and craftsmanship.
If you had to pick one red and one white to drink for the next month which would you choose?
For the red, I would pick Terret Noir. We served it at our tasting room’s pizza party last week and I was in awe. I found the wine elusive, mysterious and hugely attractive, very different from my typical red experience. For a white wine, I would select a Picpoul Blanc which I love to pair with roasted root vegetables, perfect for this time of year.
You are quite the accomplished chef, do you have a favorite food and wine pairing?
I grew up eating Mediterranean food usually paired with a Côtes du Rhône. A roasted chicken with herbes de provence and a ratatouille, paired with our Cotes de Tablas, is so beautiful and perfect it’s my go to dish for an easy dinner with friends.
How do you spend your days off?
I teach French online for UCLA graduate students. I also experiment at producing my own wine [Author's note: I’ve tried one of her GSM’s and I can attest to their ability to leave you speechless]. I am also a voracious reader and lately my reading is all about wine. I am currently reading American Rhone, by Patrick J. Comiskey, an exploration of how the Rhone movement started in California.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
One of the first classes I took when I returned to UCLA for my Ph.D. was an accent reduction class in which I failed miserably. I ended up with the worst grade of my entire academic career.
What is one of your favorite memories here?
Oh I have so many. But one of my best happened on a Saturday afternoon in the tasting room. I was pouring for a group of nine members of a chorus specialized in the singing of ancient Gregorian chants. I was explaining the complexity, balance and creativity of our blends using the analogy of music which led to an impromptu live performance. Needless to say, it was a magic moment for both guests and staff alike.
How do you define success?
For me, success is about reinventing yourself and becoming who you want to be. Reinventing yourself can sometimes be a conscious move, or it can be something you just stumble upon. I was lucky to stumble on Tablas. Being immersed in the world of wine is one of the most rewarding things I have yet to do.