Trust your palate. If Sandy Garber’s philosophy could be summed up into one mantra, it would be this. Don’t trust wine scores or hot new trends. Find wine that tastes good to you, and drink that. It’s been her guiding principle for over her 30 years in the wine business, and it’s served her well as she’s donned the various hats of somm, cellar rat, winemaker, and importer--always following her gut, and above all, her palate.
It helps that Sandy’s palate is first rate. Her portfolio is chock-full of delicious wine made by teeny producers in off-the-beaten-path appellations. You won’t find first-growth Bordeaux, but you will find unique gems from Uruguay and the Basque region of Spain. She seeks out winemakers who farm their own grapes organically, who bottle their own wines, and whose final product is what she wants to sit down with at the dinner table. She’s not out to discover the next “big gun,” just small operations producing delectable stuff.
The personal connection with winemakers is important to her, because, when not importing wine, she’s making it herself. What started out as a growing coop with friends and neighbors is now Topanga Vineyards, a small winery she owns with her husband, nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains and devoted to Rhone-inspired wines. Sandy’s appetite for new ventures and passion for wine have brought her to every corner of the wine world, and she’s blazed trails each step of the way.