DJ Kearney


DJ Kearney is a Vancouver-based wine educator, wine writer, judge, presenter and classically trained chef. She has trained hundreds of professional Sommeliers for the International Sommelier Guild during a decade as a non-stop travelling instructor throughout western North America.

A diverse background in wine, food and geology makes DJ uniquely qualified to guide the discovery of the world’s wine regions, the understanding of terroir, the sharpening of palates, and the chemistry of food and wine harmony.

DJ is a contributing editor to Vancouver Magazine and has written for Western Living, Eat Magazine, and for Wine Access until its demise. She appears on radio and television regularly; moderates and presents at wine festivals throughout North America and judges several major wine competitions annually. She is the Chief Judge of the prestigious Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition, now in its 10th year. She consults for a small client list assisting with wine selections, lists and training. DJ holds the WSET Diploma, the ISG Sommelier Diploma and is in the Master of Wine program as an exam-ready candidate.

Firmly believing in the benefits of wine and health, DJ is a distance runner, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well as a mother of twin black belts. DJ takes to heart the dictum of the late great Julia Child: moderation, and plenty of it.

Read our interview with DJ below…

1. How many years have you been working with wine?
Many! Stealing sips of Mum’s Sherry as a pre-teen, learning about Hungarian reds and whites with my (stingy but wine-loving) Dad; discovering Condrieu and Gran Reserva Rioja in University, starting a wine collection with my first job. Structured, certified and serious learning commenced in the 1990’s and I’ve been teaching for the past 15 years.

2. What was your first wine related job, article, or assignment?
Each Friday afternoon popping into the LCBO in my school uniform as an 18 year old to buy wine for a restaurant in Unionville that my parents co-owned.

3. Is there a grape or style of wine you are personally attached to?
YES! Terrifyingly dry, tart whites and wacky, juicy reds if I had to narrow it down. But truthfully, I will give a glass of anything a fair shake. Someone has gone to the trouble to grow grapes and make wine and that deserves a curious and open mind. And did I mention Champagne?

4. What was your first Canadian “aha” wine moment?
Visiting the Okanagan Valley in the mid-1990’s as an Ontario transplant. Ontario’s wine regions are gorgeous but nothing prepared me for the jaw-dropping, rugged splendor of BC’s largest wine region. And every time I descend into the Similkameen Valley, I have an ‘aha’ moment.

5. Which grape(s) do you feel is/are Canada’s best bets in terms of producing top quality wine?
Nova Scotia: Riesling and Sparkling wines Ontario: Riesling, Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Noir; sparkling wines, icewine BC: a broader range including Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Cabernet Franc and sparkling wines

6. What would you like consumers to know about Canadian wine?
First, be aware of when you are NOT drinking Canadian wine (read the fine print on the label!); celebrate the variety and diversity that we are uniquely capable of and be experimental. Pay equal attention to small, medium and large producers to maximize your exposure. Give feedback – we are a young and emerging wine country and posting your thoughts and experiences on WineAlign helps our industry grow.

7. How many years have you judged Canadian wine?
A decade now with David Lawrason and Anthony Gismondi; judging in the Okanagan for about 12.

8. What do you enjoy most about judging at The Nationals?
It’s a privilege to taste such a vast spectrum of wines at the Nationals, and get a snapshot of the last few vintages. It gives unique and precious insight of our strengths, weaknesses and potential across 5,000 kilometres of our home and native land. Proud is how I feel after the final medal rounds. And spending a week with wine colleagues is about as good as life gets.

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