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Hawk Wakawaka, aka Elaine Chukan Brown (pronounced Chuh-kahn)

Photo by Robert Holmes

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -Gandhi

Elaine Chukan Brown serves as the American Specialist at JancisRobinson.com, a contributing writer with Wine & Spirits Magazine, and a speaker at events worldwide. Her work has been featured in World of Fine Wine, DecanterRobb Report, MensHealth.com, GuildSomm.comWine Business MonthlySan Francisco Magazine, Alquimie and Noble Rot, among others. She also contributed to the recent multi-award winning 4th edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine, and was a contributor to the Lonely Planet Wine Trails: United States & Canada, as well as the upcoming 8th edition of the World Atlas of Wine. Blessed with travel, and a wealth of in-depth time with vintners from around the world, she uses WakawakaWineReviews.com to share more of the story.

Brown is known for having created illustrated tasting notes, which have been described by @KermitLynchWine as “a new standard in wine reviews.” Since, such illustrated tasting notes have become a creative new alternative for beer and spirits as well. Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews has been rated among the world’s leading wine blogs recommended by Food & Wine Magazine, The New York Times, Saveur Magazine, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Portland Times, The Daily Beast and The Style Caster, among others.

She has been a celebrated guest speaker and led seminars about wine, writing, and inspiration around the world. Such speaking engagements have included The Women in Wine Leadership SymposiumPinot Noir NZ, Texsom, ProWein, the UC Davis Viticulture & Enology Program, and the International Pinot Noir Celebration, as well as the Summer Literary Seminar, and the Association of Writers Program. She is a celebrated speaker, leading seminars in wine highly regarded by Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, winemakers, wine trade, and consumers alike.

In 2019, the Wine Industry Network chose Brown as one of the wine industry’s nine most inspiring people, and she was named as one of the top five finalists in the prestigious International Wine & Spirits Competition, VinItaly Wine Communicator of the Year. Wine & Spirits selected her as one of fifty Master’s of Place to feature in their Autumn 2016 special edition. In 2015 she was awarded the Frank Prial Fellowship by the Napa Valley Wine Writer Symposium for her work in both The World of Fine Wine, and Wine & Spirits Magazine.  Food & Wine Magazine named her as one of the world’s top wine blogs in their “Guide to the Digital Wine Universe.” She has been named by Imbibe Magazine as an Imbibe 75 “Person to Watch,” a Grape Collective Top-25 person to follow on Instagram, and a finalist for the Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards in both 2014 and 2015. She has also been a finalist for eight Wine Blog Awards in four years.

Brown’s previous work as an academic philosopher informs her views of wine, and people. She brings the rigor, thoroughness, and clarity demanded of her previous career forward to her work with wine, and her experience as a celebrated, award-recognized university teacher into her wine communication. In traveling wine regions, and interviewing people, her primary goal is always to witness the life in front of her, be it in the person or the glass.

Elaine previously served as Dartmouth College’s Charles A Eastman Fellow, a McGill University Tomlinson Fellow, a Dow-Hickson Fellow, and Bristol Bay Native Corporation’s Student of the Year. As philosophy faculty of Northern Arizona University she was named a recognized faculty member and nominated for teaching awards for her influential work with students. She has presented at conferences in Russia, Czech Republic, Canada, New Zealand and throughout the United States as both a philosopher and poet. She won awards for her academic research in philosophy, creative writing, and literature, and her academic work has been published by both Cambridge Scholarly Press, and Fulcrum: An Anthology of Poetry and Aesthetics, among others.

She began life as a commercial salmon fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, home to the largest wild salmon run in the world. At the age of 9, she began commercial fishing, started her own salmon fishing business at 13, and sold it at 23 before pursuing her life in academia. The rest of her family still operate their fishing businesses in Bristol Bay. However, her favorite job has been as a volunteer animal trainer and ranch hand working with camels and other exotic animals for River’s Crest Dragon Slayer’s in Aptos, California. Elaine, her daughter, Rachel, and their pets currently live in Sonoma, California.

Cheers! Live Sincerely.




  1. Hi Elaine

    Your reviews make a refreshing change from stuffy points based ratings and one dimensional wine descriptions. Keep up the good work.


    Dr Miles Thomas
    London UK

    • Hi Miles,

      I really appreciate you taking the time to comment here, and for sharing your perspective on my wine comics. I’m so glad you enjoy them.

      I look forward to investigating your site Winepsych.com too.
      Thank you!

  2. Elaine,

    Hi, my name is Justin and I am the winemaker for StoneCap wines. When you reviewed our Syrah it was my first experience with your website and I must say it is pretty interesting. I like the way you are approaching wine reviews and making them informative but easy to understand, I think you are right when you say the “comic book” aspect allows you to better explain what some people see as complicated or stuffy when discussing what a wine tastes or smells like and putting it in a format that is not intimidating. Anyway I am glad you enjoyed the StoneCap Syrah, I would like to mention that we are using a composite cork on this project that is only good for 3 years so this is not the wine to put in your cellar rather something to be enjoyed now. The vineyard I work with on these wines has lots of age ability potential it is just not where we are going with these wines, you can check out Goose Ridge wines to see what we are doing with these grapes to make a wine that has more cellar potential.
    Thanks for the write up and best of luck.

    Justin Michaud

    • Hi Justin,

      I’m happy to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to write, and for your perspective on the wine comics and reviews. I’ve added a post edit with your note about the bottling choices and aging potential of Stone Cap and Goose Ridge wines to the bottom of the review of your Syrah so that readers can see your advice there directly. I appreciate you taking the time to write, and share this important information with us!


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