Chasing the Dream: Becoming a sommelier

When you are a mom with a big dream, it can be easy to set it aside in favor of doing things for your family first. But going for that dream is a big and important thing — and one that benefits everyone.

Learn how one mom is making her dream of being a professional sommelier come true.

Rachel Voorhees had always dreamed of becoming a sommelier, but it wasn’t until she started writing a wine column that the mom of two decided to go after her dream. “My father has been a wine collector since I was two years old, so wine has always been an important part of my life. I remember laying bricks with him when he built his big beautiful underground wine cellar when I was just nine years old,” says Voorhees. “Once I started writing my wine column for Momtastic last August, I realized just how much I already knew about wine but also realized that I was thirsty to learn more.”

Last December, Voorhees decided to do something about it. After some research, she decided she wanted the Court of Master Sommelier Certification. She applied and began an intensive program in February at The International Culinary Center, which has the only program approved by the Court of Master Sommeliers. “The program combines lecture with intensive tastings, food pairings and practice of service techniques and is taught by a Master Sommelier,” says Voorhees. As a bonus, the school is a mere 10 minutes from her house.

Balancing responsibilities

With a 3-year-old, a 5-year-old, a husband, a writing career and a household to run, fitting school in is challenging, says Voorhees. “Organization and communication with my husband have been key. Every week is different with everyone’s schedules, so each week we have to sit down and plan the week out. He has been home holding down the fort on nights I have school and on the weekends when I have to go and study,” says Voorhees. “I study for school and write wine articles while my kids are at preschool, during naptime, which has now become ‘quiet time,’ on nights I don’t have school and early in the morning.”

Despite the challenge, Voorhees says that her family has been “extremely supportive,” of her dream. “I think my husband and children miss me on the nights I am at school, but then in turn, perhaps appreciate me more on the nights that I am at home! I like setting an example for my children by showing them school is not only important but also takes dedication and hard work,” says Voorhees, who admits that she loves calling her dad when she aces an exam.

What’s next?

Voorhees will graduate in June. “My plan is to continue writing my wine column, continue writing about wine on my own website, all while pursuing a career as a sommelier,” says Voorhees. “Food and wine pairing is my passion, so I would love to write more about pairings and one day write my own cookbook. I would love to work in a wine bar, work for a wine auction house, be a wine distributor or importer… the list goes on and on!”

Mom advice

Communicating with your family is the key to success. Make sure that you set aside quality time to spend with your husband as well as your children.

More from Chasing the Dream

Why you need a mentor — and how to find one
Becoming a business owner
An interview with author Debbie Koenig