Wine expert is expanding her pallet

Wine Expert Starting New Business


PITTSBORO, N.C. — There are nine sommeliers in North Carolina, and only four are women. One of those wine experts will be opening up a new store in the next year. 


What You Need To Know

  • A N.C. sommelier is opening her own wine shop, Rocks and Acid
  • Paula De Pano has been a sommelier at the Fearrington House in Pittsboro for 10 years
  • She’s one of only four female sommeliers in N.C.

Sommeliers are experts in helping diners pair wine with their meals. Paula De Pano has been doing it for customers at the Fearrington House Restaurant for 10 years. In that time, she says she’s helped hundreds of people pair the right wine to their pallet.

“When you’re introduced as a sommelier to a table, they definitely have it in their mind that you know about wine. I do. But, I don’t have your pallet. Your sense of taste isn’t mine. So, I have to put myself in their shoes and their budget and price point,” De Pano said about helping her customers. 

De Pano’s 10 years of experience is just the beginning for her career. She’s now venturing off to start Rocks and Acid, her very own wine shop. In it, she hopes to use her talents to showcase minority, female and LGBTQ wineries.

“A lot of the wines will have a story. They will uplift lesser brands or unknown families, but each bottle will be vetted by myself,” De Pano said. 

She hopes to open the shop this upcoming spring. She’ll also be teaching classes to help others learn a little bit more about wine.



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