How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
My career in wine making started in 2013 with my first vintage in wine production, and the birth of our family label Cória Estates. I was in love immediately! My experience prior to that was solely in the vineyard, as I grew up helping out with harvests and other maintenance in the summers off of school. Now, I am, and have been for almost 7 years, our family vintner, with mentors early on who helped me incredibly with guidance in winemaking and production techniques. Even today, I reach out to other winemakers for answers if I get stuck and I have never and will never stop learning in this industry, which is part of why I love it so much! It’s a dance between mother nature and human hands that’s ever evolving and consistently providing challenges, though so rewarding.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
Not exactly. I didn’t grow up knowing I would go into wine, or even develop a passion for winemaking until after college. Though it sort of happened organically in my mid-twenties as I was in a turning point between jobs using my Public Health Bachelor’s degree. My mom and I had a serious conversation about starting our own wine label from our own fruit, and well, the rest is history! I have always loved and appreciated wine, and my mom and I had a few garage wines under our belts at that point (which were sort of terrible looking back!), so it seemed like a scary, but exciting opportunity. I went back to school to study winemaking and by the fall of 2013 we were under a Custom Crush contract with a local winery and our label on its way! The wines I was producing then compared to now have dramatically changed as my education and experience have progressed. I love going back and tasting through those early wines and laughing at my misunderstanding of my own palate and green thumbs!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing people enjoy our family wine! Seeing someone actually appreciate the hard work that has gone into each glass, from the vineyard all the way through the cellar and into the bottle. Even myself, for example— when I’m tasting through barrels and finding the personalities of different vintages and lots, I think about all the hands that got the wine to this point and appreciate the culmination of dedication to each vine, every cluster. It’s so rewarding when it comes together to make something beautiful, and even the not-so perfect wine!
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
Being a woman on the production side of the wine industry can come with its own looks, smirks, judgmental remarks, the list goes on. The average winemaker is the opposite of a young woman with Latin roots, you can do the math there, and in my even recent memory, I am not always taken seriously when standing next to the average. I have just learned to keep my head down and power through, sort of the ‘keep your eye on the prize’ mentality.
Women are victims of the patriarchy as well, and are often more judgmental of other women as a result. How can we as women become more aware of our own prejudice towards each other and change that behavior?
If we open the dialogue, we can cut out the judgement! I feel that if we can openly talk to one another and create a safe space for conversation, no matter the industry, we can move forward together instead of on top of one another. When we can openly talk and learn to understand each other as equal women who are in this together, we can cut out the race for first place and better help each other to succeed in life.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
With more and more women feeling supported in the wine industry, I think we will see a higher representation of women in outstanding positions, such as woman-owned wineries, more female winemakers expressing their voice through wine and stylistic choices, women in higher-up positions, etc. With that ripple effect, I think we will have a more well-rounded industry representing all sexes and ethnicities.
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 women engaging in the production side of winemaking and vineyard management! I feel that there is a lack of female voices in these two areas and it would be so wonderful to see more women shifting into them and then to watch how the style of wines and market changes.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
To be firm in their conviction to learn and in getting to where they want to be! To not settle and work hard, and to be diligent in using their voice. You have every right to be the woman you want to be, and be in the job you want!
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Women having the same opportunities available to them as men do, equal pay and equal benefit. Equality in the wine industry would mean women don’t get looks, or the side eye in ANY position and being respected by their male counterparts. Lastly, it looks like women lifting up and respecting other women in any position in the wine industry as well.
In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
I think it starts at home, or in this case our family winery. There is an understanding in our house that if staff has a curiosity and wants to be part of any and every facet of the industry from the vine up, I encourage it. No matter what their position, gender, age, etc. my door is always open. I encourage this dialogue with my staff about any and everything wine and vineyard. As a woman and a person in upper management, I use my voice and position to encourage my staff to keep the lines of communication open and with a respectful tone so there is no room for judgement, but proliferation of positivity and opportunities.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
A woman who exudes strength and perseverance, who is not shy to work hard and get their hands dirty. A wonder woman of wine is a woman who lifts other women up and includes, not excludes, them in life’s journey’s to educate, to work, to try, to use their voice and to grow.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
My mom. She is my rock, she’s the reason I got into wine, and I love and respect her dearly. She inspires me and pushes me to be more and work harder every day. She is a wonder woman of wine, and in life.