By Emily Merrell
Have you ever met someone that transforms your world? That’s how it was with Emily Martin. I had seen on instagram that she had been to the wedding venue where I was planning on getting married– so naturally I friended her on Facebook without any notes. As serendipity would have it, we were seated next to each other at a women’s group. Naturally my friendship status was accepted. Immediately I gravitated towards her NYC fast past and flare for the fabulous. Learn more about my fabulous friend, her travels, her obsession with pinot – and don’t ever confuse Napa with Sonoma.
SDS: You started your blog, The JetSetting Fashionista, as a hobby while working full-time. Did you ever expect it to have the reach you have now? How has it evolved since you first started it?
EMILY MARTIN: In 2009 I started The JetSetting Fashionista while working full-time in Buying at Louis Vuitton North America. Since a young age, I’ve traveled and always enjoyed sharing fun travel adventures and suggestions with friends and family. After years of friends asking me where to eat when I visit London (where I studied abroad and have been to probably 15 times over the years), or what’s the best Club Med Village (a destination my family has vacationed often at since I was a kid) I realized I should put all of my travel ideas and suggestions into one spot – so I started the blog, The JetSetting Fashionista. This was in 2009 before Facebook, Instagram or any of the social media we can’t live without these days. Talk about a long time ago!
SDS: You spend a lot of time in wine country (Sonoma, Healdsburg, Napa, etc). How did your prior career in fashion connect you with such power players in the wine world?
EM: I recall the moment I tasted my first luxury Champagne when I was 22. A girlfriend treated me to dinner at Gibson’s SteakHouse in Chicago and spoiled us with a bottle of Dom Perignon which was definitely my first time having that quality and caliber of wines. After my first taste of high end Champagne, I of course fell in love – but it wasn’t until my career took me to Louis Vuitton that it became more of a regular treat we enjoyed.
At my orientation for Louis Vuitton’s Corporate Buying office (owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), we concluded the day with a tasting of Krug Champagne. I had heard of Krug but never had it. That was a moment I recall realizing what working at a Luxury Company as LVMH meant in terms of opening up my palate to higher-end, new, luxury wines. Prior to that I worked at Bloomingdale’s and as a retail department store we did not drink alcohol at the office (or at orientations for that matter). I
loved the exposure that Louis Vuitton gave me to some of their other wine brands such as Dom Perignon, Krug, Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot. Once I moved to San Francisco in 2012, my weekend hobby of wine tasting quickly led to wineries and meeting other influential folks in California’s Wine Industry. In the end, it’s really about enjoying a glass or two with nice people. Wines are an excuse to come together and share a glass over a beautiful meal.
SDS: Having tried so many fabulous wines, would you ever want to try creating your own wine label? If so, what varietal would it be?
EM: This is a fun question. I’ve thought about a small wine brand really as a client gift but I think with how many amazing wineries there are in the market it’s currently oversaturated. I’m not sure I could do anything better or different than what’s already being done so I’d probably pass. If I did have a wine brand (possibly in another life) it would produce Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and either Champagne (of Pinot & Chardonnay) or Sparkling California Wines. As much as I love still wines, bubbles are just so fun and really add joy to any occasion you choose to open them at.
SDS: In addition to being The JetSetting Fashionista, you are the founder of Emily Martin Communications & Events! You get to work with luxury brands, restaurants and wineries. What are your favorite sort of partnerships to create?
EM: In 2014 I started Emily Martin Communications & Events which really brings together the best in the Restaurant, Winery & Hospitality worlds. It’s such a treat to love your work and I adore sharing stories from Food, Wine and Travel. My marketing business is really an extension of the storytelling I do on the blog, partnering with clients (mostly small family-owned businesses) to help with their digital marketing, social media and in-person events (now virtual with the change in landscape during COVID).
SDS: Speaking of creating, you created the first Pinots + Plaid wine tasting. Can you tell us more about the inaugural 2019 event?
EM: After years of attending high end wine tasting events in California and across the globe, combined with my LOVE for Pinot Noir, I realized there was a need for a luxurious high-end Pinot Noir event in San Francisco. There are a few other Pinot events I adore such as Charlie Palmer’s Pigs & Pinot Event in Healdsburg (Sonoma), and The World of Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara – but nothing quite the same caliber in San Francisco.
After talking to a few wineries I had in mind to join (such as Three Sticks Wines and Gary Farrell Winery who both immediately said they’d love to participate), I quickly started planning the event. The inaugural Pinots & Plaid event included 25 of Northern California’s TOP Pinot Noir producers such as CIRQ (from acclaimed Kosta Browne Founder Michael Browne), Williams Selyem, Peay Vineyard, Cobb Vineyards and more. 2020 (which will now be 2021 (when it seems there is a safe time to host an event) will include 35 TOP Pinot Noir producers including Central Coast Wineries such as Pisoni, Paul Lato and Mail Road Wines, to name a few. I am beyond excited when things go back to “normal” and hopefully there’s a vaccine so we can host and enjoy in-person events again. I look forward to a point when we get through COVID and people feel safe to go out and attend events including Pinots & Plaid 2021. Until it’s safe to have 75-100 people in a room together (even socially distanced) Pinots & Plaid will not be happening.
SDS: As an events creator you’ve had to pivot your offerings to virtual— how have you grown from this pivot and what advice do you have for other event planners currently freaking out?
EM: Due to COVID happening in March 2020, all of my in-person events moved to digital. Although I can’t host 8-10 bloggers at wineries virtually, I did a few fun virtual events to bring the wineries and winemakers to them.
The first virtual winery event was a Zoom Wine Tasting. I invited a few blogger girlfriends to join to enjoy some wines from a client, Gary Farrell Winery who I work a lot with. It was the first few weeks of Covid and we all joined in to catch up sipping over gorgeous wines.
That made me think I could do something similar with brands, connecting them with bloggers and media friends. This resulted in a Zoom Tasting series where I host 6-10 media & bloggers with a winery. It gives the winery a chance to tell their story in an intimate setting while the guests taste along with the fabulous wines.
Fast forward and I invited a few winemakers I’m friends with (such as Ross Cobb of Cobb Wines, Aaron Pott of Pott Wines, Jeff Mangahas of Williams Selyem, Billecart-SAlmon’s Brand Ambassador, and more amazing industry pals) and started hosting IG lives on my Instagram channel. This quickly became very popular with many brands reaching out to me asking to get involved.
Upon seeing the demand by brands and my followers interested (anywhere from 150 – 250) were watching REAL time, with another 600-800 viewing on my IG TV Channel and additional viewers tuning in on my YouTube channel, The JetSetting Fashionista, I realized the IG Lives were a great way to keep my viewers entertained, educated and having fun. They’re enjoying delicious wines and supporting my winery and culinary friends.