We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Cornett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
Authenticity. It matters not only in my friendships, but also in how I do business. The wine industry is huge, and consumers have a lot of choices when it comes to what they purchase and where they get their information. I’ve built my business on my knowledge of wine but also on my personal experiences through my wine journey. I want my clients to feel connected to my brand for being transparent and authentic in how I speak about my perspectives about the world of wine. Why people love wine is about so much more than the beverage itself – if I am true to myself, then I can bring something uniquely special to the industry.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Everything I know about wine has come from a combination of life experience and literature. I use wine as a platform for connecting with wine lovers, enthusiasts, novices, nerds, travelers, etc. Through my events, classes, and social media adventures, I have built my own business dedicated to helping people develop skills to explore their own tastes in wine.. While pursuing a career in public health, I simultaneously fell in love with wine and have since accumulated 10+ years of wine industry education and experience. From 2011 – 2013, I worked for a South African winemaker while managing a winery in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia learning all aspects of wine production and tasting room sales. Since then, my interest in the people, places, and history of wine has taken me biking to wineries in Mendoza, exploring tasting rooms in Napa and Sonoma, learning about Gamay vines in Beaujolais, meeting with producers in Northern Rhône, studying Pinot Noir in Burgundy, and discovering the diversity of microclimates in the Willamette Valley. I realized I could help people feel more comfortable with exploring all aspects of wine and that I also could help connect my industry colleagues to their consumers. I founded A Cork in the Road, LLC in 2018 to highlight opportunities for wine education in Atlanta and partner with retailers and restaurants to create new experiences. The biggest challenge was learning what it takes to run a business – coming from a background in science and public health, the logistics of starting an LLC were very intimidating at first! But with the support of friends and family along with feedback from clients, my confidence in my abilities increased and confirmed that I had something unique to offer through my work. I later decided to launch the “A Cork in the Road” podcast to feature people I admire in the Atlanta wine industry, and I have designed a new Wine vs Beer event format to study beverage pairing trends through data collection. Today, I’m simply honored to continue connecting with so many people through my passion for wine and wine education. The story continues!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When my friends come to visit Atlanta – in a non-Covid world! – I always try to highlight some of my favorite places to wine and dine. We start by walking the Beltline and stopping at places with excellent wine lists and outdoor patios – VinoTeca is a must to check out the wines they are featuring for their weekly tasting flights. For dinner, I would suggest grabbing reservations at places with fun wine lists like Miller Union, Wisteria, The White Bull, The Chastain, BoccaLupo, Amano, etc. – or for a multi-course wine pairing…a splurge at Lazy Betty! In general, my favorite spots are because of the people that work there. I admire my friends in the wine industry here in Atlanta and try to support their beverage programs as much as possible. I’m also a huge fan of grabbing takeout from a restaurant along Buford Highway – or bringing along a bottle if they allow BYOB! – and pairing dishes with a variety of wines. This can be a fun taste test of flavor combinations while also supporting local restaurants and local wine shops. I’d suggest to stop in at places like Perrine’s Wine Shop. Brookhaven Wines, Highland Fine Wines, Fermented Wine Boutique, Wine Shoe, Purple Corkscrew, Elemented Wine Co., Murphy’s, 3 Parks Wine Shop, etc. depending on what neighborhood you find yourself in for the day – we are so lucky to have a whole network of incredible local wine shops all over the city and surrounding suburbs. It’s exciting! Also, for anyone visiting Atlanta over a weekend, I would set them up with a winery visit itinerary in North Georgia. If they don’t want to drive, I’d book them a tour on The Vino Van! There’s so much to explore up there, and I’m excited about the viticulture and the wealth of knowledge that is coming to our state. I look forward to seeing more growers and producers create wines that express the unique qualities of what Georgia has to offer.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve been honored to have an incredibly supportive network of mentors throughout my wine career. At the winery where I got my first official industry job, the winemaker quickly became one of my biggest mentors and allowed me to engage in all aspects of winery production. This unique hands-on experience led to a wealth of knowledge that has inspired further study and exploration. On a personal level, my dad is really the one who got me hooked on the academic approach to wine by taking me on trips to vineyards and encouraging me to keep learning about the business of the industry. When I was doubting my ability to start my own business, two close friends – one in Virginia (thank you, Lindsey Kelly!) and one in Atlanta (thank you, Theresa Ward!) – both helped me realize my storytelling abilities through wine and convinced me to start documenting my wine adventures for a broader audience. Since launching A Cork in the Road as an official business, my husband has been a student, a confidant, a teammate, and a fan – he is always helping me be better than I was yesterday.
Other: Podcast: https://anchor.fm/acorkintheroad
Britney Kidd Photography
A Cork in the Road, LLC