Anne Claire Brewer - Guest Beverage Director at Jester King Brewery.
How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
I’ve worked in the Austin service industry since I moved here from Mississippi 7 years ago. I was more focused on serving craft beer throughout that time, but fell in love with natural wines when I started coming as a guest to Jester King around 2016. I started working in the tasting room a year later and had the opportunity to work my way up to Guest Beverage Director where I've had the wonderful fortune of sharing world class beverages with our guests ever since. Jester King is fiercely and unapologetically independent. Authenticity is very important to the way I curate the wine program here because it is crucial to the style of beer on which we've built our reputation. Furthermore, everything we make at Jester King — the beer, the co-fermentations, the food in our farm-to table-restaurant — represents honest intention with no shortcuts. I appreciate that the wine program can hold the same standards.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
When I tried Southold Farm + Cellar's 2015 I Want to be Stereotyped, it was my first time trying a wine that utilized carbonic maceration. I was blown away; hooked at first gulp. No one told me wine could be so boldly expressive.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
So many things! But I have to say the most rewarding is the brewery guest who finds a wine they really love that they never would have tried if not for the passion and knowledge of our staff. It's their day and they could go anywhere but they are trusting us with their experience. The guest who is willing to let us take them for a ride is my favorite guest.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
Unfortunately, a common microaggression I've experienced comes in the form of having my ideas talked over or repeated by a male-identifying colleague. And of course the all-too-common male customer that explains our menu to me. I've been privileged to experience no violent or extreme prejudice in my career.
Women are victims of the patriarchy as well, and often are more judgmental of other women as a result. How can we as women become more aware of our own prejudice towards each and change that behavior?
We as women and femme-identifying individuals have the responsibility to keep a seat open at the table beside us for other marginalized groups; especially us white women. We should be able to notice when we are using our platform to invalidate the experiences of women of color, trans women, disabled women, and women who don't share the same socioeconomic class. Our work isn't done until everyone is free.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
Women are amazing collaborators. Supporting women in the wine industry will lead to more support all around. All of the personalities, skills, and experiences that were historically dismissed for being feminine will have the opportunity to shine.
What changes do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?
I hope to see more "behind the scenes" women receiving credit from their male colleagues on public platforms. I hope to see more women heeding the call to mentor their up-and-coming colleagues. Lastly, I hope the strong network and solidarity I've felt from women in the industry lives on to the point where we don't feel the need to compete against each other.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
Advocate for yourself. You are qualified to be here.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Equal pay for equal work, ending stigma on mental health, vulnerability & sensitivity being recognized and validated. Oh, and a lot of discussion panels with fewer than two cisgender male voices.
In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
I really enjoy inviting staff members to taste wine with producers whenever possible; those who feel they are the least entitled to be a part of wine. Wine can have the perception of being only for a certain class of person, which isn't true. If you have an appreciation for a product that was made with utmost care that tastes accordingly, you deserve to be a part of it.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
A wonder woman of wine knows her shit but doesn't care about the pressure to constantly prove it. She is confident and can hold her own (with grace) anywhere she goes. She is a leader yet understands the importance of leaving the door open behind her for collaboration. Also, she doesn't need a special occasion to open something fancy.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
Jenny Lefcourt of Jenny & Francois Selections for her inspiring activism surrounding the president's insane wine tariffs this past year. Alice Feiring for her book Natural Wine for the People that remains one of my favorites to recommend to anyone with a thirst for natural wine knowledge. And, most importantly, Adrienne Ballou, Courtney Schwamb, Traci Walker, Averie Swanson and every other woman at Jester King that has been gracious to share her experiences with me.