Updated: May 23, 2022
How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
I have been working in the wine industry for just about 7 years. I first discovered the wine industry when I was in Graduate School for my masters in geology and began working at a small wine tasting room in Santa Barbara, Kunin Wines. Within just a couple of months I discovered that I loved the wine industry and that there was an incredible interest in geology, and I never looked back. Today, I work with individual vineyards and producers helping them to map out and understand their terroirs. I am also very involved in education, where I help make the field of geology, and science in general when I can, more accessible to professions in all areas of the trade. I also have a podcast called Roadside Terroir, where we take the listener on an immersive road trip through their favorite wine regions--exploring the vineyards, tasting the wines, and trying to understand the connections between the place, the people, and the wines.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
Oh gosh, it was all in that first tasting room. I remember stacking the shelves with bottles one day after packing up some shipments and thinking how much I just loved everything about the industry. I loved the sense of community that I felt, and how everyone I knew was just as passionate and hungry to learn as I was. I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
I feel most content when I feel that my work is helping connect people to the earth through wine--I love that wine can be used as an enjoyable, pleasant way to understand how complex our planet is, and how connected we are to it.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
The best lesson that I have learned about balance, is that for me, balance doesn't happen every single day. I have stretches of time when I work very long, hard days, and am completely consumed by my work, followed by stretches where my body tells me that I need rest. I've been trying to learn to listen to my body more, and to allow myself to take a full rest when I need it, as opposed to just when it is scheduled. I have also been running for several years now, and find it very meditative. I am convinced that there is no problem that can't be solved by a long, slow run.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
I would love to see more diversity at the top of the industry. I think there are so many different challenges that different people face, whether they are women, LGBTQA, or BIPOC individuals that can only be addressed by people who personally understand these experiences. Greater diversity at the top means a deeper and more compassionate understanding at every level.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Equality to me means that everyone in the industry has access to the same opportunities, and that those of us who are in privileged positions in can help bring others up simply make room for more diverse voices and perspectives.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
Some days, I feel like I am not doing enough at all to create a more diverse and inclusive industry, and then other days, when I have to fight to be taken seriously, or justify why I deserve to be paid for my work, I think that maybe just being here and working hard every day is enough. Beyond that, I use my podcast to highlight the diversity of voices that can be heard in every wine region--this includes languages, accents, ages, and experience levels. I have become fascinated by the literal differences in peoples voices, tone, and expressions. So that even if we have an episode with 7 or 8 guests, the goal is that the voices will sound so different that we don't need to keep introducing the person.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
I like to encourage other geologists/scientists etc to get into the industry by enjoying and appreciating wine and the people who devote their lives to it. Accept that you will always be learning, and to take the time to listen to others, even if you may not think you agree with what they are going to say.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
There are so many! I am so lucky to be surrounded by friends and colleagues who are so supportive and encouraging of their peers. The first few who come to mind are: *Christina Rasmussen for her work ethic, patience, and gracefulness *Jaimee Motley for always sticking to her convictions while also remaining kind and thoughtful *Rajat Parr for constantly, constantly challenging himself *Alice Anderson, and Mikey and Gina Guigny for getting their hands dirty and inspiring so many people that conscientious farming is possible And many many others, especially the women I work with on a regular basis who constantly show me how to balance professionalism with kindness, warmth, and efficiency. *Including Rebekah Weinberg (Quintessa), Chantal Forthun (Flowers), Jaime Dutton (La Paulee), Jen DiDomizo (Acker Wines), and the whole team at Becky Wasserman and Company