Wine Writer | Wine Critic | Wine Lover | Wine Drinker | Did I Mention Wine? Editor-in-Chief + Instructor at Napa Valley Wine Academy

Hi. I'm Jonathan Cristaldi, the Editor-in-Chief of NapaValleyWineAcademy.com.

The Napa Valley Wine Academy, is situated in downtown Napa, California in a former theater-arts school, and has quickly become the valley's premier wine school. I oversee content for our website and wine blog (called "Pouring Points"), our student portal and am spearheading a new wine writing program for the Academy. I also instruct and work on biz-dev and on occasion like to debate the merits of things like Cabernet Sauvignon vs. the right of Cabernet Sauvignon blends to exist freely in a free-market society. Wine can be highly political. Education is fueled by wine. Writing about wine for a living is worth every bottle.

My Bio:

Prior to joining the Napa Valley Wine Academy, Cristaldi was the Deputy Editor of two of the largest wine and spirits trade publications in the U.S.: Tasting Panel Magazine, The SOMM Journal and recently a farm-to-table magazine called The Clever Root. In addition to his work with the academy, and as a Contributing Editor to those print publications, he is a regular contributor to Vivino, Liquor.com, and First We Feast.

Cristaldi’s work has also appeared in Los Angeles Magazine, Liquid LA, Thrillist (National Edition), Tasting Table (National Edition), Time Out LA and most recently Psychology Today. He is the co-founder of The Noble Rot and founder of Winetology.com and the NobleRotTalks.com podcast.

Cristaldi’s history of enthusiastic and sometimes avant-garde approach to wine education events earned him the title of “Wine Prophet” by Time Out New York. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and is working on that WSET Diploma.

If you never saw this, you might enjoy it. All aboard the Brooklyn-bound L-Train Culinary Express.

Brazenly follow him @NobleRotNYC.

Published Articles

Wines I am
currently drinking

Wines I am
currently drinking

  • 20%


  • 30%

    Chard Land

  • 10%


  • 20%


  • 10%


  • 10%

    Iced Coffee

a portrait of the artist

a portrait of the artist

  • Early Days
    In my younger and more vulnerable years, I lived in the small town of Cambridge, New York, just northeast of Albany---bordering Vermont.

    A good majority of my formative years was spent within the walls of Hubbard Hall---the local community theater. Alison Caldwell, the Youth Theater Director (along with the many people I met and the experiences granted me) impressed upon my already outgoing personality a confident creativity that would serve to benefit me in unimaginable ways as an adult.

    I would be remiss not to mention Douglas Bischoff, my high-school Choral and Theater Arts teacher, who taught me to sing, and was a mentor through and through.

  • University Years
    When I told Kevin McGuire, the Founder and former Artistic Director of the Theater Company at Hubbard Hall, that I had declined acceptance at SUNY Purchase College, he made one phone call, from a rotary phone, that charted a serendipitous course of artistic expression and learning. He called up HB Studios in New York City and pretending to be my "father," demanded all the information needed for enrollment in the Fall.

    He convinced me to go to Purchase and begin making connections in NYC---that was the way to a career in performance art, he argued--and he was right.

    Later that night after informing my mother I would back out of going to SUNY Oneonta and instead go to Purchase, she was beside herself. We had already informed Purchase that I wouldn't be attending. Still, by some good fortune, the school relented and accepted my re-enrollment.

    The next four years at Purchase College, brought about a total transformation and cultivation of my whole being. I rode Metro North trains into New York City on weekends to study acting while earning an academic degree in Dramatic Studies under department head and notable performance artist Lenora Champagne, and genius faculty: Fiona McNeil, Kay Capo, Jay Novick, Lee Schlesinger, Lawrence Kornfeld, Thomas Goodheart and Philippa Wehle, who would come to play a major role in my post-purchase life. Philippa is one of the most remarkable human beings I know and through her eyes I was introduced to a world of avant-garde theater that would become my raison d'etre.

    At Purchase, it can be said of many students that future stars were born, and in my case, it is fact: Jonny Cigar, a character mash-up of film noir and the American dream gone awry was initiated into being in early 2000. With a microphone in one hand and a copy of The Great Gatsby in the other, Cigar would shock, awe and delight audiences from my dorm room all the way to legitimate theaters in New York City.

  • New York City
    My first apartment was in Queens and it wasn't even mine--it was Chris Bischoff's, son of Doug Bischoff, and a spitting image of his dad. I lived in Chris's kitchen, and worked my day job at Samuel French, Inc, the famous play publishing house. I eventually moved into an apartment on the other side of the Triboro Bridge. After having to turn down the opportunity to be a "dwarf" in what would be Richard Foreman's last piece of theater ("Lumberjack Messiah"), I joined up with Sponsored By Nobody, a new company under the Artistic Direction of Kevin Doyle.

    Simultaneously I was writing and performing as Jonny Cigar while working a day job in Public Relations.

    By 2008, I was ingrained in PR and living the freelance publicist life, having amassed enough credential and know-how to help a small boutique firm in the Flatiron grow their Radio Department.

    During my hey-day in PR, (from 2005-2008), Brooklyn saw a resurgence in dinner clubs---what the press (namely Thrillist) would re-coin as "supper clubs," and one of the most exclusives was The Whisk & Ladle, which happened to be the communal brainchild of three of my friends from college.

    I found it to be pretentious, largely because of how it was described to me: "An illegal restaurant in my apartment," to quote one of the founders. I scoffed at it and when at last I could no longer refrain from barging in, I made myself a comfortable regular at Nick Bennett's bar (currently bartender at Booker & Dax). While I made snide remarks about the whole affair, my mind began to see a new potential. These people were all obsessed with the culture of food and I was enjoying a period of discovery myself: wine. I devised an idea to start a supper club solely dedicated to cultivating an avant-garde approach to learning about wine---one that would be utterly fun. That idea became The Noble Rot.

    From 2009-2012 my foray into the culture of food and drink evolved my career into multiple acts : pr, marketing, events, performances, brand ambassador, entrepreneur, social media marketer--and each roll overlapped and opportunities seemed endless. During all this activity, I had met and married Amanda Wells. In 2012, she was invited to join a new dance company under the artistic direction of Benjamin Millepied--LA Dance Project. And that, for the time being, marked the final chapter of our life in New York City. Go west young man!

  • Los Angeles
    Amanda moved out first, and found an apartment in Los Feliz, while I packed up all I could of New York City before boarding a one-way flight to the Golden State.

    Since leaving NYC, things have fallen into place for me and my career as an artist-in-wine (ahem, a writer) has really taken off. First, writing for Complex Magazine's First We Feast, then reviewing bars for Time Out Los Angeles and writing for The Tasting Panel Magazine. Then, it hit: an offer not be refused. The publisher of Tasting Panel called and offered me the position of Deputy Editor (over the phone). I accepted.

    Today, in addition to my work at the magazine, I am a contributing editor to FirstWeFeast.com and regularly pen articles for Los Angeles Magazine's Liquid LA blog, have written some humorous pieces for Thrillist.com, Liquor.com and a handful of other outlets.

    This year also sees the beginning of a new phase of my work in wine: teaching. In 2015 I'll begin teaching WSET courses in Los Angeles and working closely with two educational-focused organizations: The Napa Valley Wine Academy and Drink Careers 101. I'm also starting the two-year trek toward earning my Diploma in Wine & Spirits. "I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food." - W.C. Fields

Connect + Sample Policy

Send me a letter: j_cristaldi@napavalleywineacademy.com

Sample policy: Please inquire before sending samples and kindly note that while I do taste and make note of each sample, coverage in the publications I write for is not guaranteed. All wines will be reviewed for the academy's "Pouring Points" blog, and given a WSET conclusion (i.e. "Good," "Outstanding," etc). Wines that fall below the "Good" mark will not be reviewed. Your efforts to provide samples are greatly appreciated.