It’s true that the making of a good wine and the building of a solid relationship have similarities — there’s the waiting, the nurturing and the giving of a little room to breathe every now and again. In the end, though, the effort is worth it.
Jaymie Phares and Anthony Marocco, wine lovers themselves, have taken those lessons to heart while building a life together.
On a fall day in 2011, one of Anthony’s good friends called to see whether he was heading out to wineries in Virginia over the weekend. He and a few of his friends were itching to tag along.
Always happy to have company on his long, winding road trips through the Virginia countryside, Anthony orchestrated a tour of some of his favorite vineyards and picked up the small group of eager tourists. Among them was a girl named Jaymie.
At the time, Jaymie had the enviable title of “wine engineer” at Evo Bistro in McLean. She knew her stuff, and that’s the first thing that struck Anthony.
“She was one of those people who paid attention to everything and didn’t seem like she was talking for the sake of talking,” Anthony recalls. “It was like she was aware and fully educated about everything around her, and that included the wine we were sampling.”
Their first discussion revolved around Meritage, a blended Bordeaux-style wine that was, to them at the time, the most pleasant wine money could buy.
For the remainder of the trip, which featured tastings at Three Fox Vineyards, Barrel Oak Winery, Chester Gap Cellars and Rappahannock Cellars, Jaymie and Anthony talked about their likes and dislikes in the world of vintages and grapes. And in a snapshot taken at the end of the tour, they have their arms wrapped around each other.
There was a connection, but something substantial was standing in their way — both were in relationships. In fact, Jaymie’s boyfriend was on the same tour, but he seemed indifferent to Anthony’s interest in his girlfriend. At the end of the day, all Anthony and Jaymie could do was to friend each other on Facebook and wait.
Ten months later, Anthony noticed that Jaymie was no longer posting pictures with the man he had met on the wine tour, so he sent her a message.
She had just taken a job in the District, and they quickly realized they worked just a few blocks apart. They made dinner plans for later that week, but then one of Anthony’s friends gave him a warning.
“He basically told me that if I don’t act quickly, Jaymie was going to get snatched up again,” says Anthony, a marketing and business development rep for a labor and education trust. “So I had to think of a way to meet for drinks as soon as possible.”
Two days before their dinner date, Anthony sent her a text message asking what she was up to. They both happened to be on their way to the jam-packed Metro, so they decided to get drinks at a wine bar nearby. Those drinks turned into dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill, which morphed into late-night refreshments on the W Hotel rooftop.
Although they hadn’t communicated much since the winery tour, Anthony and Jaymie picked up right where they had left off, discussing travel, wine and how their lives had changed in the past 10 months, with a special focus on how they were both now single.
“We got to a point where we just didn’t want to stop talking,” says Jaymie, a senior associate in brand, marketing and communications at Ernst & Young. “We come from very different backgrounds — I’m from the South and he’s from New England — but our interests and what we wanted to do in our lives lined up.”
They continued dating and, with a love of wine still a central part of their relationship, broadened their wine adventures beyond Virginia.
They traveled to Napa Valley, Sonoma, Paso Robles and the Finger Lakes region of New York. “Wine is very subjective,” Anthony says. “It could taste different based on your mood, your company and location. A good time usually correlates with a good wine, and vice versa. With Jaymie, I kept remembering the wine we tasted when we first met as the best wine of all.”
A year into dating, the pair knew marriage was the next step.
Anthony took Jaymie back to the winery that started it all, Rappahannock Cellars, and, in the barrel room, he dropped to one knee. A two-week trip to Rome and Tuscany followed soon after, marking Anthony’s first time abroad.
On Oct. 12, Jaymie Phares, 25, and Anthony Marocco, 31, were married at the New Apostolic Church in Hopewell, Va., in front of more than 160 guests. A reception followed at the Historic Mankin Mansion in Richmond, where the two really embraced their love story.
Instead of signing a guest book, guests signed a wine barrel; flowers graced dark green bottles; the heels of Jaymie’s shoes were made to look like cork; and decorative crates were labeled “Marocco Vineyards, established 10-12-14.”
It was that love of wine that brought Jaymie and Anthony together, and they only hope it continues to bring wonderful things to their lives as husband and wife.
“In Tuscany, we were taken to an ancient castle in the middle of nowhere to taste wine, and then when we went to France on our honeymoon, we were served the best wine of our lives in a concrete shack,” Jaymie said after the wedding.
“Wine and the people who love it have taken us far already and given us the best memories of our lives, so I’m just excited to see where it takes us next.”