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Pavy '81 Goes From Yale to Software to Wine

Howard W. Hewitt, Sonoma, Calif. – Like so many Wabash men it took a few career turns for Stephen Pavy ’81 to find the right niche.

Pavy attended Yale Divinity School after Wabash graduation and ministered for a while. He worked in higher education. Then he met two friends in Chicago who were doctors. One of those friends was dabbling in medical related software. That led Pavy into California’s software industry and after just a few years to his real passion.

Pavy did well in that business but eventually resigned to work on a stunning home atop the Sonoma Mountain. Pavy did much of the landscaping, planted a vineyard, and completed substantial work himself on the more than 6,000-square foot home.

But all along his interest in wine was getting stronger. So he started in a tasting room at St. Francis Winery and worked his way up through other winery hospitality positions. He loves the interaction he gets with the customers who trek through wine country.

He took a big step up recently when he became wine educator for Joseph Phelps. Phelps makes outstanding wines and last year Wine Spectator named Phelps ‘Insignia’ the No. 1 wine on its annual list of Top 100 wines.

But working in the industry isn’t enough for Stephen. He is using the knowledge he gained at St. Francis and hopes to gain at Phelps to make his own wines. He’s not a bonded winery so he makes it for friends and to just give away. But he has his eyes on the future.

He admits the possibility of combining the wine with his sprawling home to create some sort of a hospitality business. He has a barn on the property that was built for horses that he has converted to his make-shift winery.

He is making a Sauvignon Blanc and a Bordeaux blend red. He poured both during our chat Friday night. It was rather amazing to see this small vineyard near his home and then taste his two wines that held up well against much of what you’d taste in the valley. His Sauv-Blanc was outstanding.

He’s not sure where these combined interests will lead him but he’s energized when talking about the possibilities.

Read a full story on Stephen’s career path and interest in wine later this year in Wabash Magazine and the Wabash College website. 


- I left San Francisco this morning under bright sun and probably the warmest day of the year for the Bay City.Temperatures inland reached near 90 degrees Friday.

I was headed up to Sonoma to meet Stephen Pavy but had all day. I made a stop after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to take a few photos. I have a small photo album here from my day's travel.

I spent a couple of hours in Sonoma and visited a couple of wineries between Sonoma and the Inn where I'll spend the next two nights.

A story: I had lunch in the Swiss Hotel in Sonoma, which is probably the most famous restaurant in the area. Sitting beside me at the bar was a rather talkative woman that turned out to be the tasting room manager at Ravenswood Winery, just oustide of town. She gave me lots of suggestions and then went to her purse and pulled out a complimentary tasting pass for Ravenswood's reserve wines.I've found the Bay area different than many large city areas I've visited. The people just seem far more approachable and friendly!

Ravenswood makes pretty good Zinfindel that can be found in most of the country. The reserve Zins are available in restaurants and at the winery.

- My California visit comes to an end this weekend. I've booked myself into a nice bed and breakfast inn south of Santa Rosa and I'm going to be doing wine country for the weekend (my expense, not Wabash!)

I'll return to Indiana Monday and tackle the mountain of interviews and photographs I've taken over the past two weeks. Again, the stories on these nine alums will appear late this year in Wabash Magazine and on the Wabash College webisite.