Bailey McAlister - Writer for Paste Magazine & Chief Communications Officer for Telesomm
How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
I've been in wine for about three years. I started studying wine communication academically in 2018, got my somm certification in 2019, and got my sake certification in 2021. Right now I write for Paste magazine and am the Chief Communications Officer for Telesomm.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
I studied abroad in Germany during undergrad and went to a wine tasting at Schlöder-Thielen with my cohort of American, German, and Spanish students. Experiencing the Riesling paired with flammkuchen made me recognize the connection between camaraderie, memory, and food/drink.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
I get to learn new things everyday.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
Overall, I try to stick to a perspective of enjoying the moment - not overthinking about the past or future, accepting things as they are, and not fighting the natural evolution of circumstances. I run around the neighborhood with my dog, play ball outside with my dog, and go on walks with my fiancée. I've been practicing yoga for over a decade and I'm trying to work on my meditation practice.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
I'm hoping to see a lot more cross-disciplinary work with wine and other industries. I'm hoping that our cultural perspective of wine shifts to view it as a community essential accessible for everyone.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Equality in wine means listening to everyone's stories and valuing the systems of communication that prioritize authentic storytelling so that the general narrative includes all voices in wine - not just the people who traditionally run the industry.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
As an academic, I highly value diverse perspectives because this generates a more comprehensive understanding of people and communities. I'm hoping that my scholarly work reflects this perspective, and I have oriented my career to focus on amplifying others' voices and helping people find their voices.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
MAKE FRIENDS. Network, send emails, set up meetings, talk to people. Every opportunity I've ever gotten - literally every single one - has come from someone I already know. You won't get anywhere in wine writing if you don't prioritize building community.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
Kelly Cornett! Her podcast is fantastic and her vision is awesome. Rajat Parr and Ikimi Dubose-Woodson are also admirable for their commitment to educating and changing the community.