Meet a Sommelier Sister

Luisa Contaifer Davis (Psi 2010/James Madison) started 2020 with a resolution: to pursue something creative and entrepreneurial on the side of her full-time job at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

However, it was only during the pandemic that Luisa found a passion that would fill that goal. After a winter of stay-at-home orders during which she tried a variety of new wines, Luisa decided to start a wine blog. “I was committed to learning more about wine and the wine industry,” she said. 

As social distancing restrictions began, Luisa used the time to complete the first two levels of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) certification through virtual classes at the Virginia Wine and Spirits Academy. “Level 1 took about a month, and I learned the basics of wine. Level 2 took about six weeks, and I learned more about food and wine pairings and the systemic approach to tasting, which allows us to take our opinion out of the tasting. It’s basically the scientific way to appreciate and talk about wine,” said Luisa. 

In March 2022, she finished her Level 3 WSET course at The Capital Wine School. Here, Luisa learned about geography and growing practices, varietals from wine regions, and practiced developing her palate through unknown wine tastings. “It was a virtual course, so they would send these little wine tastings to your house to complete,” she laughed.  

Luisa only has one more WSET level to go, but she’s not sure of her next steps. “The fourth level is the diploma, a two-year program with internships at wineries,” she explained. “So I’m thinking about it, but I’m not sure I want to start my career over again.” 

Ideally, Luisa would merge her passion for wine with her marketing and storytelling knowledge. She knows she can do so with her blog, even if it’s not a full-time job. “I want to tell the stories and show the faces behind the wine industry, to make it less intimidating. I want to be the stopgap to help people know what they like and what to pick, to make them comfortable around wine,” she said. 

Her number one piece of advice to achieve more wine knowledge? “Try them! Visit wineries and do tastings, ask questions in the tasting rooms, learn more about your palate, and try different varietals. You can also learn a lot on Instagram; there’s a great wine community there.” 

Luisa is also excited about 510 Pearl Napa Valley, Alpha Sigma Tau’s wine brand. Each wine club membership supports Alpha Sigma Tau’s programming and educational programs. “It’s the second best thing to flying out to Napa myself, to be able to taste high-quality Napa wines and support the Sorority while I do it,” she said. “I’m most excited about Six Stars, and I can’t wait to bring my shipment to a Sister’s bachelorette party to share!” 

Besides the 510 Pearl Napa Valley wines, she recommends people try out local wineries to see what’s growing in their region. She said, “You might be surprised!” For wine newbies, she recommends rieslings and Argentinian malbecs. “They are great, affordable, approachable wines that go with almost everything,” explained Luisa. 

When it comes to her Alpha Sigma Tau Sisters, Luisa is more than excited to help out. She urges Sisters with wine-related questions to message her on Instagram or her blog. “If you need help with a food-and-wine pairing for a dinner party, I’d love to help!” she said. 

If you aren’t a 510 Pearl wine club member yet, you can check out all the details here. We can’t wait to see what Luisa thinks!