Our Story

play-ground / ‘plā,ground

1. a place where a group of friends choose to enjoy themselves

Suzanne Berkley

Certified Sommelier

Certified Specialist of Wine

Mom, wife, and wine-pairing obsessed cook

While proud of my mid-western upbringing from southern parents, I am a West Coast girl at heart! Joe and I moved out to NorCal in 2000. I was always envious of Joe’s time working crush in Sonoma, CA and in 2008 when the opportunity presented itself, I decided it was time to invest in my passion and I enrolled in the “Certified Sommelier” program at the Professional Culinary Institute to prepare for the Certified Sommelier test from the Master Court of Sommeliers. The course, led by Master Sommelier David Glancy, helped prepare me for the grueling test and made me thirsty for more.

As I was working toward my Certified Sommelier pin, I was already thinking of what the next adventure would be. How could I take all this new found knowledge and share it with everyone? I dabbled in wine consulting, cut my teeth at tasting rooms, and a local wine bar in San Jose, CA. I firmly believe wine should not be saved for special occasions or for a few people, but shared with everyone, and most importantly no one should tell you what you like.

In 2012, after 12 years of trying, Joe and I were finally able to move to wine country and we dove in head first! Our love of sharing a glass of wine with friends has made it clear what we need to do – share with everyone. And that is why we started Playground Cellars. If you cannot make it to our Playground then we will bring it to you!

Joe White

Garagiste & Wine Geek

Moving to the San Francisco Bay area in early 2000 expanded our palates to what wine is all about. By fall of 2000 I was able to take a three month sabbatical to work crush in Sonoma, CA. Even though long days of nonstop physical work were the norm and the commute was 2 hours one way, those three months educated me in the process of wine making. It showed what it took to produce wine, and it solidified a dream… to eventually produce our own wine.

The next year, although not a full time, I was able to work the crush on the weekends in Sonoma. It was during this vintage I realized the difference between the process of wine making and the art. Fast forward to 2015, I again was able to work crush again but this time in Napa Valley and I experienced a very different side of wine making. Today I’m Cellar Master for a small but well known winery and winemaker for our own label. I feel blessed and I’m truly enjoying my work.

After years of studying and working crushes I’ve realized there are several routes someone can take to get to their destination, much like there are different actions a winemaker can take during the wine making process. The question always is; What is the end goal? How adventurous are you?

As Suzanne mentioned it took us awhile but the stars aligned and we were able to move to St. Helena in the middle of Napa wine country. We almost immediately started to produce our own wine for personal consumption and experimentation. A true Garagiste if you will. At the same time we started finding hidden gems of some remarkable low production wine. This is what helped start Playground Cellars. Our idea is to experiment, introduce the new, revisit the traditional, and share these discoveries with you. But in the end to play with your palate.