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Brenae Royal - Vineyard Manager for Monte Rosso Vineyard.

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

June 3rd, 2020 was my 7 year anniversary being in wine and working for the E. & J. Gallo Winery! When I was growing up, my grandmother had this giant backyard garden and I remember just loving getting out there in the soil, picking weeds, planting flowers, growing vegetables— whatever I could do, I was game. We laugh about this because my family are all doctors and teachers; none of us have any idea where my love for farming came from.

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

I became interested in wine because I found a glass of wine I really enjoyed — Apothic Red. I guess you could say it was a revelation, because it’s what started my interest in viticulture. I happened to meet some wine industry recruiters around the same time, just as I was about to graduate college and looking for my next steps. I got a viticulture operations internship in 2013, which led to me being named the Monte Rosso Vineyard Manager in 2015.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I’d say the most rewarding part of my job is the team I get to work with every day. We are passionate about being farmers and crafting the best wine in the vineyard, and we genuinely love what we do. It rarely feels like work.

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

Sure, being overlooked, or triple-checked. Having my boss tell someone that they’re going to help me even though I never needed help. There are too many to list.

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?

I think the number one way to become more aware is to recognize that there is space for all of us to shine. We are better when we work together and it does nothing for us to hold each other back.

When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?

I think we will see the wine industry as a whole continue to drive more inclusion of women and the promotion of women.

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 of us in C-suites and entrepreneurs starting their own wineries.

What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?

Do not be afraid to have an opinion about wine. Having opinions is what makes wine great because there are millions of ways to make it and do it successfully. Have confidence and use your voice.

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

More women of color in all aspects of the wine industry.

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

I’m contributing by recruiting more women in positions traditionally held by men. Women can do anything men can do in the wine industry and I want to see us represented in all facets of the business.

What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?

A Wonder Woman of Wine is unapologetically authentic and courageous in her pursuit of equality in the business and making/farming the best wine.

What other women of wine do you admire and why?

Krista Scruggs! She defies every “norm” in the wine industry and is completely comfortable in that space.

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