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The Founder
  • We are redefining what living well means: Savoring our meals, laughing over a glass, and appreciating the joy of life through travel.

The Founder

The concept of Wine & Food Travel was conceived on a getaway trip to Napa Valley, leaving behind the haze and pollution of Los Angeles. Self proclaimed traveler, journey-man, entrepreneur, animal lover and kindred soul, Sonya Lee shares with you the stories of exploration of the human heart via wine, food and travel. It is here that we share stories about places you drive by daily, pausing to tell yourself “Hey, I have to go there someday”, but never go. It’s about learning of the past, present and future of the people who create businesses, cultured wine, painted art or baked cupcakes. Sonya’s curious nature draws us into remembering that everything was once made with hand, fruit is grown from trees, vegetables are grown from the earth and that we live are alive to enjoy it.

Since a child, Sonya has been traveling from the corners of Canada to the far east Asia. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, she led a normal family life with her brother, mother and dad. A well received job opportunity in Hong Kong for her father put the compass in action from a young age. You will hear about her stories of living in Hong Kong, being sent away to boarding school in Ukiah, to her adventures of returning back to her homeland of Ontario where she no longer felt at home.

Sonya is an entrepreneur by heart. She lives in Los Angeles with her English bulldog named Monster and feline friends Sabi, Kaeli and Misty. On a regular day she takes care of special needs animals, grabs coffee on the go while she prepares for a day of work with Mowie Media, an Online Marketing Creative Agency.

An interview (in the third person)

Why did you chose to create Wine & Food Travel?

I never really intended to create a magazine, but I knew I was on a path to find something that would allow me to stay in Napa. Having lived in Los Angeles for over 12 years, I became tired of the corporate ladder and yearned for a lifestyle that is more rewarding and satisfying. I truly fell in love with Napa and it tugged at my heart at a regular basis. Part of my reason for falling in love with the place are the people who have such a love for their work and personal life. There is such a seamless balance that is rarely found in Los Angeles.

I thought long and hard for 2 months on how to get myself up there. I brainstormed wine products, food sites and travel opportunities, but nothing gave me the satisfaction I was looking for. By happenstance, I found the domain name and thus an idea was born. After I bought the domain name, it took me another 3 months to decide the business’ focus. I’m so happy I took the time to listen to myself and follow my dream! Wine & Food Travel allows me to incorporate my passion for all the things I love into one – and with a greater purpose.

What do you want to achieve from this?

Quite honestly, I really just want to be in Napa and be happy. But creating this website also serves a more fundamental and basic purpose for myself, my friends and new friends around the world. What I find that is lacking is that people have a major disconnect from having a good time, period. To my point, I used to think that having a great time could only be achieved through vacation to somewhere far away where I could indulge in good stuff. As we all know, vacations don’t last long enough! Little did I realize that I don’t have to fly to Europe to enjoy a plate of ____ (substitute with favorite dish), when I could easily go to farmers market, pick up some fresh meat and veggies, sautée your favorite ingredient in butter and fresh herbs. Not only is it more affordable, but it’s delicious and you can have it whenever you want to.

Furthermore, I find that there is an even greater disconnect between the food we eat on our plates and where it comes from. We all know that potatoes are delicious in all forms, but do you know that potatoes are grown underground and also bear beautiful flowers? Understanding the source of our food helps us keep the earth a better place. Modern convenience which allows us to have strawberries in the winter is wonderful, but not entirely natural. Let’s appreciate Mother Nature at her best. All it does is take a bit of understanding and knowledge!

What are your goals for WAFT?

In my earlier years, I also started a non-profit rescue group for animals. I found it very rewarding to work with animals, rescue them from euthanasia and place them with proper homes. Additionally, it allowed me to help place happiness into each adoptive family, helping people learn to love unconditionally like animals do. I accomplished that and am delighted by its continued success.

My next goal in life is to do some charitable work with children or elderly. Having created WAFT, I can now use this as a medium to affect the world and help their families become happier and healthier. The ability to help children doesn’t have to be direct, because the tiniest big of influence in their family lives can make a huge impact and difference in their upbringing. A home-cooked family meal speaks leaps and bounds over frozen TV dinners scoffed down in front of the television.

What do you want people to take with them from this site?

I want people to know that there are resources in their local towns to recreate a vacation like experience. Supporting local businesses is beneficial to the local economy, but also helps balance your life. Shopping at Farmers Markets can benefit your health. Supporting local artists can bring color to your life. Seeking out new shoppes and vendors in town will expand your community network – and make a few new friends! How wonderful is that?

But how is this different from all the other magazines?

I’m sensing that there’s an underlying benefit to the evolution of Greenness. Though I’m not an activist, I don’t want to push any agendas because it’s too extreme and people get turned off easily. Baby steps, is what I say. Being appreciative of life doesn’t have to mean that you need to change your wardrobe, your fundamental beliefs or lifestyle. It’s about learning to incorporate little things into your life, bit by bit. Let’s be honest here… everyone moves at a different pace in life. Who’s to say that my ideals are the ultimate way?

Do you have additional questions? Feel free to ask! Email me at sonya at wineandfoodtravel dot com


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