Jenny Benzie. Wine Woman About Town. She’s upbeat, has a great deal of wine knowledge, owns Epernay and is seemingly everywhere. I was thrilled to catch up with Jenny in person and learn more about her positive outlook, wine experience, and her tips for living A Delicious Lifestyle.
What does “A Delicious Lifestyle” mean to you?
To me, “A Delicious Lifestyle” revolves around the wine lifestyle, since I am in the wine business. Wine is a farm product – just like an oyster, fish, or a backyard garden. Wine doesn’t need to be so sophisticated and complicated that people can’t find common words. When I travel and go to wineries, we meet the family on the farm. Often time there are more than one generation working together. Rob and Maria Sinskey make the wine, and come out to meet the visitors. Rob incorporates his photographs of the vineyards and the animals into his labels. Maria is a chef, extremely smart and a Master of Wine candidate. A Delicious Lifestyle is more about incorporating the sum of the parts than just the one thing. Drinking an average wine, in a beautiful glass given to you as a gift, with your best friend, while eating Pi Pizza on the beach… now there’s A Delicious Lifestyle!
Where were you raised?
I grew up in Front Royal, VA (near the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River).
How long have you lived on Nantucket?
I started coming to the Nantucket Wine Festival as a volunteer in 2006, while I worked at Café Boulud in Palm Beach during the Winter and running my own wine tastings and consulting. Of course it was an amazing weekend! I remember Ethan Dupree gave me a ride from the Jetties (when the NWF was held in a tent) into town. I got to meet Jane Stoddard (formerly of The Pearl and The Boarding House and Current Owner of Cru) and asked if I’d like to work as a sommelier at The Pearl. I spent a while trying to find a way to transition to Nantucket full time, which ended up being great for me to take over Epernay.
What keeps you here?
The sense of community. I didn’t find it in Florida and had been searching for it.
What is your Profession?
Without missing a beat, Jenny laughed and blurts out, “Champagne taster” before she got more serious and told me about her extensive credentials. “I am an Advanced Sommelier, which I use for sales and service and working in restaurants. I got a Diploma with the British Wine and Spirit Education Trust, which is more for someone working in the trade and gave me more training on the specifics of wine. I’m also a Certified Wine Educator which encompasses a little bit of both sides so I can help others to learn about wine and make sure we are both speaking the same language. I’ve worked at a high-end Carribean resort, independent restaurants, restaurant groups with the the owner’s name on the door, (i.e. Daniel Boulud’s Café Boulud) and Michael’s in Santa Monica.
Running and own, Epernay, working at Cru, and The Westmoor Club must be exhausting! How do you re-charge?
Having a team has been successful for me. It involves leadership skills, but a lot of it is time management. You show up, they follow you, and that momentum pushes you forward. When you feel the wind in your hair, it feels really good.
You have to take a day for yourself. Some sleep in or watch TV, but I like to keep going. I’ll take a bike ride and get in the sunshine. I’d rather continue to do something active to recharge like a wine vacation or hiking.
Make a date with yourself a couple times a month to allow yourself go do something you want to do and not feel guilty for it.
There are some things you can change and predict. Set boundaries. The more you those behaviors to happen, the more they will.
When you need to shift your mood, what techniques do you use?
When I am moody, I know to remove myself from the situation for a couple minutes. I go into the wine room, regroup, and realize, “this isn’t how I want to act and who I want to be”.
On a busy day, what choices would you make for your health if you only had:
10 minutes: Drink lemon water, first thing in the morning and remember to drink water throughout the day. Clean and moisturize my face.
60 minutes: During the winter, I really enjoy the 50-minute yoga, booty barre and pilates classes at The Westmoor. Or, I will take a walk or bike.
Do you have any “Go To” Health Tips?
Drink Lemon Water.
Watch what you eat. (For example, I don’t eat as many processed foods as I used to.)
We’d like to have a family, so I need to make some lifestyle choices, to be a parent or a partner to someone else.
Jenny and her husband and business partner, Kirk Baker
What are some of your favorite things to do on Nantucket you make sure to do regularly?
I love to ride my bike and I enjoy riding out to Millie’s with my girlfriends… (Maybe we even take the bus back!). A bonus I don’t have to worry about parking. When I first moved here, I didn’t have a car, so I’d ride my bike to the beach for an hour. Can do on my own time and meet up with someone else.
With all the Land Bank property, there are so many great places to go on walks.
I make a list every year of a couple things (like the Whaling Museum and Lightship Museum) so I can learn more about Nantucket.
Stop in to Epernay to talk to Jenny, learn about her wine knowledge and see the boutique!
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