David Rhodes is a wine connoisseur, sommelier, and wine educator who has consulted for numerous wineries and restaurants in the U.S. and Israel. He served as an ambassador for San Diego County wines in Israel and presently writes weekly for magazines and wine websites. While living in San Diego he had a wine club where he hosted 80 events in over three years. “There’s a talent in hosting events, but there is also some skill sets you can teach people,” he says. Rhodes never had any official training as a wine taster, so he decided to enroll in the Business of Wine program at San Diego State University’s College of Extended Studies. “I wanted to test myself to see what I knew, what I didn’t know, and to find out what gaps I had in my wine education,” he says.
Rhodes first studied wine academically in the ’80s and wanted to make sure that over the last 25 years his wine savvy hadn’t regressed. It turns out he didn’t have as many gaps as he thought and eventually became an advisor to his fellow classmates and to the program. The courses reassured Rhodes and gave him the confidence he needed to grow into the role of a sought-after wine writer.
Earning his certificate, Rhodes believes, greatly helped and guided his career. “Israel is now an emerging wine region yet it’s also one of the most ancient, but we’re about 20 to 30 years behind California culturally. Our winemaking is world class, winning international competitions, but the culture is still evolving. I’m the only person in Israel I know who was a part of a Business of Wine program and that has been incredibly valuable for me because currently I’m writing hundreds of articles. I’m also helping the wineries with how to market themselves. That gives me a rare and marketable perspective here. My studies at SDSU fast forwarded my progress in Israel. I’ve been able to find a niche. I think the more you know about wine, the more you know you don’t know, and the more you want to know,” Rhodes says.
He adds, “I had a background in wine, some of it was formal, a lot of it was self-taught; but, because of the program I came to Israel with the confidence to speak with a voice of authority as a writer and consultant. Within four years I’m one of the leading English writers on wine in Israel and even translate those works into Hebrew. I’m not sure I would have had the same confidence to succeed without the program.”