Wine Women Wednesday: Meet Author and Writer, Christina Barrueta
Happy Wine Wednesday! Or, as we call it around here, Wine Women Wednesday. It felt so good to share Michele Padberg’s story with you as we kicked off the series for 2020. As I love to share stories of women in all aspects of the wine industry, today I’m thrilled to introduce you to Christina Barrueta.
Hailing from Phoenix, I met Christina in 2018 while covering Livermore Valley’s Taste our Terroir. One of the most beloved writers on the Arizona Food, Beverage and Wine beat, Christina has been a dynamic voice with work in various print and digital outlets since 2008. She launched her blog, Write On Rubee, five years ago and along the way has collected such notable nods like Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame food, beverage and travel writer, AZ Foothills Magazine Most Influential in Valley Food 2019, and AZ Foothills Magazine Best Instagram Feed 2019.
Somewhere in between all of that, Christina managed to publish her first book, Arizona Wine: A History of Perseverance and Passion. An incredibly in-depth look into how Arizona found its way as a wine region. Along with a published book, Christina is working on her second, all while working full-time and writing articles. Huge thanks to her for squeezing in the time to answer a few questions!
Meet Writer and Author, Christina Barrueta
Mary: Tell me a little about you and your background. Did you always envision yourself being such a prolific wine writer and author?
Christina: I’m currently a Phoenix-based freelance writer, but I’m originally from Massachusetts and moved to Arizona in 2008. Growing up, I was a voracious reader. When mom would go out, instead of getting a babysitter, she would sometimes just drop me off at the library! While in school, I wrote short stories for fun and took advanced literature classes but also had an interest in biology and science.
I wanted to be either a marine biologist or a writer! I ended up getting an Associate’s degree as a medical assistant and eventually became the supervisor of the electrocardiology department at a local hospital. But I always kept writing and even wrote our department cookbook. I still work in the medical field, but now at home, as a quality assurance supervisor for a company that oversees and edits medical documents. I balance both that and my writing jobs, so it keeps me busy.
M: When was that ‘moment’ when you knew you had a passion for wine?
C: For me, it was a gradual introduction into the world of wine and tied to my interest in wine paired
with food. Back in Boston, we dined out often (I met my husband at a restaurant) so I was always
learning about wine and attending wine dinners and wine events. Fast forward to 2008 and a week
after we moved into our Phoenix home, I read about a “locavore” dinner featuring Arizona
winemakers, farmers, and ranchers. We were joined by my husband’s son and daughter-in-law, and
their close friends who were starting an Arizona wine magazine and looking for a food writer.
Having read my posts on a public online Boston food group, they asked if I would be interested in reviewing restaurants, and because of them, I dived right into the Arizona wine and food community. I searched out restaurants serving Arizona wine, met Arizona winemakers and visited Arizona
vineyards. After the magazine was sold, I became a freelance food, beverage and travel writer and
started my website Write On Rubee in 2015.
My Arizona wine book debuted in September of 2019 and my second book, Phoenix Cooks, a cookbook featuring Arizona chefs their recipes, comes out this summer.
Arizona Wines and Juggling it All
M: What made you decide to write Arizona Wine: A History of Perseverance and Passion, and what
were some highlight moments along the way?
C: In 2017, I was approached by Arcadia Publishing to write a book representing Arizona for its History Press and Palate series. They loved my idea of an Arizona wine book, and I was thrilled
to work on the state’s first book about Arizona’s flourishing wine industry and the passionate people involved. In 2005, there were only nine wineries; now there are over 100. People tend to think that all of Arizona is flat and dusty, that vineyards are grown in searing temperatures
amongst the cacti, or that Arizona wine is a tourist gimmick or just a novelty.
It still surprises people when I tell them that we are winning major international awards and we have beautiful vineyards growing at higher elevations. Though the book does contain historical documentation, a large part features interviews with modern-day winemakers and their stories in their own words. My goal was to have the reader understand the passion of each winemaker and why wine making is so important to them.
I want people to say, “oh I feel like I know that winemaker now” or “I’d love to meet that winemaker, they sound so interesting,” and thus be motivated to seek out Arizona wine at local restaurants and markets, and visit the wineries and tasting rooms.
And those were the highlight moments – sitting down with Sam Pillsbury in his home, Kent Callaghan at his tasting room, Maynard Keenan at his restaurant. I’ve been a longtime fan of Arizona wine, but writing the book has made me even more invested in getting the word out.
M: You wear a lot of hats! Being an Entrepreneur is fun, but not easy. When those days hit that you feel like throwing in the towel, what keeps you motivated?
C: Balancing a full-time job with writing assignments, my website, social media, covering local
events and writing two books back-to-back is exhausting but also rewarding. Time management is the biggest challenge. But it’s important to me to share the word and educate people about our gifted chefs, award-winning winemakers and the talented farmers, ranchers, and artisans we have here in Arizona. It’s truly a special community. It’s the reason why I started the website and spend so much time on social media.
If you notice, my Instagram is mainly pictures of dishes, drinks, chefs and bartenders, not me – it’s all about them!
That Perfect Day
M: There’s nothing like a perfect day at your happy place, kicking back listening to your favorite
album and drinking your favorite wine. What does that look like for you?
C: My perfect day would actually be a free day! Since we are out so often at restaurants and
events, sometimes seven days a week, a luxury is just staying at home. I love to cook, though
now rarely have time, so a perfect day for me would be pulling out one of my favorite cookbooks.
I’d plan a menu for the two of us with appetizers, entrée and dessert and choose a special bottle (Lobster Newburg paired with a white burgundy would probably be on the menu). We’d pop in one of our favorite old movies like The Thin Man and enjoy a long leisurely dinner with plenty of wine.
Connect with Christina
Keep a check on Christina’s Book Signing page for the opportunity to meet and chat about wine with the author herself. Follow her award-winning Instagram HERE and copies of the book can be ordered clicking this link. Cheers!
(*Featured photo credit: Jean Laninga Creative.)