The Eating...Our Words 100: Stephanie Earthman Baird, Bringing Wine to Cowboys

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Making a transition from the oil and gas industry to the wine industry is a huge career change. Stephanie Earthman Baird made the decision to move into the wine industry after working in her previous field for 16 years. After volunteering with the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for six years, she established the wine committee in 2004, received several wine certifications, and opened her own wine and distribution company: BevCo International, LLC. Baird has now been in the wine industry for 25 years, studying and teaching wine.

"It is something that connects people, so I made a big jump," says Baird. "Most of the consulting appearances are in private homes, but also at restaurants that are customers of mine purchasing some of the boutique wines that I bring in."

What does she do?

Baird was the general chairman of Rodeo Uncorked!, which brings together wine and food at the rodeo. She has been with this sector of the rodeo since its inception and has been a part of that committee for ten years. She recently stepped down from her position as General Chairman of Rodeo Uncorked!; however, she is still highly involved in her committee.

"I was elected to the board of directors of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and am involved in the four committees that make up Rodeo Uncorked!," says Baird. "We have grown it to 4,000 people where we not only get to show off the wine makers and the magnificent products, but we showcase 70 difference chefs that do amazing things."

Why does she like it?

Baird loves the new aspect that wine has brought to the rodeo.

"It [wine] brings people together and has a large tie to food," says Baird. "I am a true believer that it is not only a personal sense of wine that marries food...I think that you can have a lot of fun with wine; who knew that a chardonnay was a good match with a corn dog?"

Baird has enjoyed how warmly Houstonians have embraced the addition of wine to the rodeo as well.

"I think [Rodeo Uncorked!] has surpassed everybody's expectations that so many cowboys and cowgirls are into wine," says Baird. "It has been a lot of fun to witness that and be a part of that."

If not here, then where?

"The south of France, where the roses flow freely and I could eat all of the bouillabaisse I want to," says Baird. "The food, the wine, the people, the weather -- it is a dream of mine to live there for one year."

If not this, then what?

Surprisingly, if Baird were not in the wine industry, she would not venture back to oil and gas.

"I would love to be the reporter on the sidelines of football games," says Baird. "I dreamt about that as a little girl; I always wanted to do that."

If she weren't on the sidelines of football games, she would also love to combine her love for food and wine with her love for leisure travel and writing. In fact, she has been one of the writers for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo magazine, Bowlegged H Magazine, since 1998.

What's next?

Baird explains that she wants the wine events at the Rodeo to continue to uphold the mission of showcasing wine as agriculture and continue to use these events to educate the public about wine.

"We will focus to continue on the growth path that we are on," says Baird. "It would be fun to think of some additional events. [But] that's my main goal, to continue to have fun, provide great products and education."

The Eating...Our Words 100:

- Yilmaz "Jim" and Deanna Dokuyucu, Husband-and-Wife Owners of Turquoise Grill - Dan Tidwell of Treebeards on Downtown Houston's Past, Present and Future - Kiran Verma, Executive Chef and Owner of Kiran's Restaurant & Bar - Catherine Rodriguez, Pastry Chef at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa - Jody Stevens, Owner and Cake Designer of jodycakes - Bobby Heugel, Owner of Anvil, Blacksmith, The Hay Merchant and OKRA's Charity Saloon - Renatta Lindsey, The Taste Contestant and Houston Home Cook - Enrique Bravo of Pollo Bravo on How Selling Chicken Helped Him Realize His American Dream - Sean Beck, Sommelier Extraordinaire - Brooksy Smith, Owner of JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers - Minh Nguyen, Owner of Cafe TH and One of Houston's Best Front-of-House Personalities - Tiffany Tyler and Aimee Turney of Central City Co-Op - Ellen Schwartz, Culinary Instructor & Private Chef - James DeLeon, Certified Sommelier and Craft Beer Nut at Kroger - Alex Padilla, Executive Chef at Ninfa's on Navigation - Kevin Strickland, Herder of Cats at gratifi, a.k.a. Ziggy's - Ron Chen, Owner and "Head Coach" at Rattan Pan-Asian Bistro - Brock Wagner, Godfather of Craft Beer in Houston and Founder of Saint Arnold Brewery, the Oldest Microbrewery in Texas - Blanche Kinze, Murray's Cheese Master at Kroger - Bear Dalton, Wine Buyer & Educator, Spec's - Sam Ray of Republic National, Houston's Largest Wine Distributor - Thai Van, Server Extraordinaire at Kata Robata - Dale Robertson, a Populist Among Wine Writers - Denman Moody, Author of The Advanced Oenophile - Benjy Mason, Executive Chef at Down House

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