Friday, March 1, 2024 Mar 1, 2024
54° F Dallas, TX

Dallas’ Grape Dames

The four Dallas women who drive us to drink—wine.
By Teresa Gubbins |
photography by Elizabeth Lavin


Barbara Werley

Wine director at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse

One of only 14 female master sommeliers in the world and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Werley oversees an extraordinary collection of more than 33,000 bottles, one of the largest restaurant wine lists in the city.

Memorable wine moment: “My father was in the petrochemical business and traveled worldwide. So I was exposed to a lot early. I grew up with Maytag blue cheese—someone would send us a wheel every year. The first wines we had at home were the old classics: Wente Grey Riesling, Louis Martini Merlot, Hanns Kornell sparkling wine. Those are the things I started with.”

Recent coup: “I just brought in a wine from Chris Ringland called Anamorphosis. It’s a Shiraz, but it has a cool presentation with a mirror that lets you see different things. When you take the bottle to the table, you get to tell the story. Chris Ringland’s got stories, and I like the stories.”

Bottle she’s saving: “A friend gave me a bottle of Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé that I put aside. Didier died in a plane crash two years ago—he was Mr. Pouilly-Fumé. It’s not that expensive, but it’s just amazingly good. I like to see what happens with grapes that aren’t normally put aside for aging. People don’t think to sit on a Sauvignon Blanc, and I’d like to see what happens to it.”


Courtney Luscher

Co-owner and manager of The Grape

Luscher, who is a co-owner of The Grape with her chef-husband Brian, is actively working on her master sommelier credentials.

Memorable wine moment: “We went to Napa Valley for our honeymoon. I had never been to Napa before. Whitehall Lane is such a cute winery, especially in the springtime. It has a wonderful trellis covered in lilacs. You could smell it from the car. Just the sight of the purple against the yellow—I said, ‘We have to stop here.’ We had a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc. It was so fantastic. I’d always liked New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, but I’d never had a California that I loved so much.”

Recent coup: “Building up the restaurant’s by-the-glass list to more than two dozen options. “It bothers me to go to a restaurant and be forced to order from a bottle list because the by-the-glass list is so lame. I want to turn people on to wine and show that you don’t have to blow your whole budget on one bottle.”

Bottle she’s saving: Whitehall Lane Cabernet. “On that honeymoon trip, we ended up buying a magnum of their Cabernet. They told us to sit on it for 10 years. We got married in 2002, so we’re almost there.”


Gina Gottlich

Wine director, co-owner of Bijoux

Gottlich partners with her chef-husband Scott, curating Bijoux’s wine list as if it were an art collection. “I’m into the romance of wine,” she says.

Memorable wine moment: “My husband Scott and I drank a bottle of 1989 Krug champagne on the way to the airport to go get married. We got married at Lake Tahoe. We got it as a gift from Van Roberts, who owned Lola. He gave it to us as a wedding present. Scott saved the bottle. He refuses to throw it away.”

Recent coup: “I finally tried a Pinotage I liked. Three or four years ago, Pinotage was the in thing among sommeliers. I’ve probably tried 50 Pinotages, but I couldn’t get into it. But I finally tried one I liked, and it’s awesome. It’s a Fort Ross Pinotage from Sonoma, which is unique since most Pinotages are from South Africa. We poured it when we went and cooked at the James Beard House.”

Bottle she’s saving: “My dad is Hungarian. A few years ago, as a combination birthday-Christmas present, he gave me a neat vertical of Hungarian Tokay. It’s a straight vertical, at least five bottles, so I’ll definitely need a special occasion.”


Jennifer Kornblum

Assistant sommelier at Grace

After honing her chops at Sapristi Bistro & Wine Bar in Fort Worth, Kornblum joined Grace, where she organizes a weekly event called Women, Wine, and Wednesday! “Women might not trust themselves, but we’re more in touch with our senses than a man is,” she says. “I think we have better palates.”

Memorable wine moment: “My first ‘wine’ was Boone’s Farm. We were so into that in high school. When I went to college in Colorado, I couldn’t find it anywhere. So when my sister came to visit, she brought six bottles of Strawberry Hill so we could educate and enlighten all my friends. Of course, that’s the last time I drank Boone’s Farm.”

Recent coup: Turning a Fort Worth book club on to the joys of Riesling. “I also like when someone who only drinks white will try a red.”

Bottle she’s saving: 1991 Chateau Montelena. “I got it from a very good patron and friend. We were BYOB, and he had a really big cellar. He was always bringing me bottles of wine for my own collection. We’d share a bottle, and then he’d leave one for me. I’ve never had it, and I know it’s going to be amazing.”

Related Articles


20 Gorgeous Coffee Table Books with Dallas Authors

For a page-turning dose of North Texas inspiration, stock your shelves, top your coffee table, or complement your kitchen with these works by the local literati.
Restaurant News

What To Eat in Dallas This March: Yakitori, Nepalese Dumplings, and Banana Pudding Cookies

This month, we're drinking Perfect Lattes in Plano, and heading to Richardson for vegetarian Indian food.

The Luka Doncic Mavericks Are Deeper Than They’ve Ever Been

That doesn't mean Dallas is deep by contender standards just yet. But it's a start for a team accustomed to too few useful players and too little diversity in its style.