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Ally Chapman - A brand strategist and feminist wine blogger for the Platform The Femme Vine!

How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.

I am a brand strategist and feminist wine blogger. I’ve worked in advertising for over 8 years, but I only started my platform--The Femme Vine--last November. TFV is a site dedicated to connecting modern drinkers with women & non-binary vintners so everyone can drink more inclusively. I’m a feminist and passionate wine tourist, so this was a way for me to combine two of my passions.

Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?

When I would travel to wine regions as a tourist, I would often try to find female-run vineyards to visit. It felt like Google and guides would always fall short. Tour guides would say they knew a few but didn’t have a relationship with them or Google would make it really difficult to filter down and find female-run vineyards. I thought if I am willing to go to extraordinary lengths to find these women and still having trouble, what about the everyday consumer? That sparked a desire to create a database that anyone could use to find women who are making incredible wines today.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Speaking to the women who are part of the vine! I consider the ‘Behind the Vine’ interviews little pep talks because the stories that these women have about their journeys into the industry and about wine are so inspirational and I immediately want everyone to know about them. I feel a lot more connected to the wines in my glass simply because I know the passion and backstory of the person behind it. That’s a feeling I want to share with more people through my work.

Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry?

I’ve definitely had people question why I wanted to dedicate a space to women & non-binary producers in wine. One person said to me, ‘you couldn’t do that with a website dedicated to only men’, and I responded, ‘oh you mean most wine websites?’. There’s this strange defensiveness people get. They latch onto the idea that because I champion women in wine that I think all men in wine deserve to be punished or replaced. It’s not that at all. I think assuming a woman who wants to support other women in an industry is trying to tear that industry down is the whole problem! It should be enough to simply want to champion and support women in a space where they have been shut out. It’s about giving these women the recognition they deserve. I’ve heard enough stories from enough women in wine to know how meaningful it can be to be told who you are and what you create is worthy of celebration. That’s why I want to celebrate every woman - drinker and producer - who is owning her/their space in the wine world.

When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by advocating for diversity and inclusion?

The benefit of diversity and inclusion is about better representation, increased opportunity and innovation. Right now, wine is pale, stale and male. It’s also a difficult industry to see as a career opportunity unless you come from a certain background or social class. That’s a huge problem. Advocating for diversity and inclusion isn’t just about being more equitable in the world of wine, it’s also about furthering the industry. It’s imperative that wine as a category grows and changes and innovates. We need fresh minds and more people from different backgrounds to help keep wine relevant to a new consumer that cares about equity, sustainability and purpose. Wine is a product of the earth and people, and we need to look after both to make this industry as good as it can be.

What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?

At the moment, there’s a big emphasis on asking ‘how is your wine made?’. I want the next step for consumers and importers alike to be asking ‘who makes your wine?’. The more consumers are intentional about what they drink, and who produces what they drink, the more inclusive and diverse the industry becomes.

What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?

More women & non-binary producers in more wineries in more wine regions. More outreach to women, BIPOC individuals, LGBTQ+ individuals. More inclusive education systems around wine certifications. More scholarships for future winemakers.

In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?

My goal with The Femme Vine is to get as many people as possible to build wines made by women into their everyday. I hope that someone reads my ‘Weekly Pour’ newsletter and goes out and purchases a bottle of the wine featured. If I am responsible for a few purchases here and there, that’s great, but I also want to contribute to lasting change. I want it to become second nature for someone to walk into a wine bar, a restaurant, a grocery store, or a wine shop and ask,“Do you have any wines made by women?” I believe together we can start a positive cycle of conscious consumption that can bring equity into wine.

What message do you have for anyone now entering the wine profession?

I would tell any woman looking to enter the wine world to leap in! There are plenty of women waiting for you with open arms who are eager for more women to come into the industry and create change. Working on The Femme Vine has taught me that wine is a world where you can make your mark and stand fierce in your individuality. It’s all waiting for you!

What other industry heroes do you admire and why?

I admire all of the women who are part of The Femme Vine. Specifically, I can think of 5 women who have faced more adversity than most and still managed to create something of their own, which I really respect. Those women are: Sveva Sernia, Mee Godard, Cheramie Law, Berene Sauls and Marta Sierota. Outside of winemakers, I have immense respect for Hannah Crosbie who runs fun, accessible wine clubs in London and for Rebecca and Ellena at Emile Wines, two sisters who own and operate a wine importing business in London.
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