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The Proust Q&A: Maria Helm Sinskey

Maria Helm Sinskey was born and raised in upstate New York. Having trained as a chef in San Francisco and Denmark, she worked in a range of top-end restaurants in France and California, before settling in the Napa Valley in 1999 to pursue a life combining family, food and wine, as well as writing cookbooks, at her husband’s winery, Robert Sinskey Vineyards – a biodynamic operation covering more than 200 acres in Los Carneros and Stags Leap districts of Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

Maria Sinskey is currently chief cook at her husband’s biodynamic winery, Robert Sinskey Vineyards.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Feeling warm and sated by a delicious meal with family and friends.

What is your greatest fear?


Which living person do you most admire?

Those selfless individuals who run towards danger to help rather than run away.

What is your greatest extravagance? 

Time to think.

What is your current state of mind?

A mix of optimism and pessimism.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Kindness & honesty.

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?

My husband and two daughters.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Let me think.

When and where were you happiest?

Fire Island, NY 1968.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

A photographic memory.

Which talent would you most like to have?

To have more patience.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

That has yet to be determined.

Where would you most like to live?

By the sea.

What is your most treasured possession?

A collection of notes written by my daughters when they were very young.

What is your most marked characteristic?

My keen sense of smell.

Who are your favourite writers?

MFK Fisher, Elizabeth David, Upton Sinclair, and Emile Zola.

Who is your hero of fiction?

Howard Roark from The Fountainhead.

What is it that you most dislike?


What is your greatest regret?

Not being able to say good-bye to those close to me that have died.

What is your motto?

Carpe Diem.

Who would be your ideal dinner party guests and what three wines would you serve?

Akira Kurosawa, Carey Grant, Claude Monet, Marcel Proust (if he was feeling up to it), Eleanor Coppola, Audrey Hepburn, and Ella Fitzgerald.
I would serve them 2002 Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill, Tsukinokatsura Heiankyo Junmai Daiginjo Sake, 2007 Huet Le Mont Demi-Sec, 2000 DRC Grands-Echezeaux, and 2001 Vietti Barolo Riserva Villero.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No