Aly Wente - VP of Marketing & Customer Experience of Wente Family Estates, 5th Generation Winegrower
How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
I have truly been in the wine business for as long as I could work. In my early teens through college, I worked as an intern in the marketing department for my family. But my actual start was as a child walking through the vineyards with my dad and sisters. I took a quick break from wine after college but returned after a couple of years to work at Constellation Brands on their fine wine brand marketing team. I worked at Constellation for about 4.5 years until I decided to join my family’s 138-year-old business. Today, I oversee our marketing and hospitality departments—a job that keeps me on my toes and makes me excited for each day.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
Wine was always a part of my life growing up, but I think my true ‘aha’ moment was finding wine on my own while living in San Francisco after college. I became a foodie and dove into learning more about wines from different regions, food, wine pairings, and visited wine countries other than Livermore on the weekend. San Francisco started my personal love affair with wine. It was then that I decided to go work for Constellation as I realized wine was a true passion—and what’s better than working on something you love?
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love contributing to the strategy and success of my family’s five generation run business. I have immense pride in carrying the torch passed down by generations before me. I also love seeing my team succeed. Everyone who works at Wente feels like part of the family, and it’s exciting to work in an environment where we truly feel like we are ‘in it together’.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry?
One that hits close to home is one of my main passions and areas of focus: supporting and empowering women in our industry. I would love to see more women in leadership positions and enjoy devoting time towards mentoring and coaching up-and-coming women.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by advocating for diversity and inclusion?
There are too many benefits to count! Right now, the wine industry is declining because we are not doing a great job showing how wine fits into all lifestyles. The wine industry has a habit of speaking to itself—and there are so many people and cultures we are not engaging with. Also, diversity is necessary for us to gain fresh perspectives, learn and grow. As an industry, we must raise up and prioritize diversity and inclusion as key pillars for a successful future.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
A more inclusive industry—from the consumers we speak with to the support and foundation laid within our organizations. I would also like to see younger consumers find their way to wine—something we are actively trying to accomplish at Wente Family Estates across our portfolio of brands.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Equal representation of women and minority groups in leadership positions. Equal pay and equal opportunity!
In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
I engage in a few ways. I support, follow, and participate in dialogue with organizations focused on creating and empowering change in our industry. I am also spearheading DE&I programs at Wente Family Estates to better lay the foundation within the walls of my organization. I spend my time coaching and mentoring women—whether through presentations to organizations like Dress for Success or mentorship through personal connections—I am an open-line to any woman searching for advice and coaching.
What message do you have for anyone now entering the wine profession?
Welcome to the most wonderful industry! To use a phrase my team likes to use—working in wine is truly a “choose your own adventure”. Enjoy the ride!
What other industry heroes do you admire and why?
I admire so many astonishing women I have worked with throughout my career who have helped shape me into the leader I am today. To name a few: Carolyn Wente, Amy Hoopes, Sally Campion, Michelle Perry, Genevieve Janssens. In my book, they are all heroes because their work supports raising up women, not to mention their own personal accomplishments. Cheers to women who empower women!