Frances Gonzalez - Launched Vegan Wines, a subscription-based club & online wine shop.
How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
Vegan Wines was founded by me in 2017. I went vegan over 25 years ago after watching a video on cruel practices towards animals in other countries over tradition. At this time, I realized we eat animal because of tradition and I felt horrible about myself and stopped eating animals that same day. Today, I am grateful for our Vegan Wines platform to educate about veganism through wines as wines is something many enjoy drinking. I want to keep finding ways to reach out to people so they can understand wine is food and food is not meant to be animals.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
While on a wine tasting tour, I heard her guide say the words “egg whites” and my ears perked up. For the first time, I learned that animal products are frequently involved in winemaking, particularly during the fertilization and fining processes, which means the end product isn’t vegan.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Vegan Wines is growing because people are getting more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies. I am so honored when I work with winemakers that respect and work with us for change. One cannot do this alone and Vegan Wines is grateful to be part of this positive change together with others for our animals and environment.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
At the beginning I was not taken seriously by many. Some even took my ideas and claim them their own. I had to keep talking louder yet kindly to not sound like the over-sensitive vegan. I still work hard to fit in a male-dominated wine industry as a woman.
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?
Yes, and it is so sad to see this. There is enough for everyone and even more to go around. Women need to begin to see other females not as a threat but as a piece of the puzzle for world change. It is hard work and one cannot do it alone. We need to work together for success!
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
Strong leadership for positive change within the wine industry. I see women are working so hard for sustainability, wine-working ethics, and changes in leadership and this is all positive for wine, animal, and environmental communities.
What changes do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?
We are part of the wine industry as leaders. We are the ones making changes. I would love to see more women recognized as part of this not because it’s a holiday, or you have to make women on team quota for the year but because this is what is the new normal because SHE deserves it! She earned it through her hard work.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
Think out of the box and go for it. We need change and we need you. Don’t give up and always be respectful in how you express change, as we want that same respect back. Don’t ever give a reason for them to point doubt. Stay strong and focused!
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
The wine industry is still dominated by men, even if the women has more experience or education. We need this to change for equality to be achieved within the industry. This is why I love to work closely with WOTVS (Women of the Vine & Spirits).
In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
There is so much confusion in what makes a wine vegan. I want to clarify it not as a business owner but as a long-time vegan. I care about natural, no animal products in the winemaking and this includes respect for the environment and working ethics. I feel we are beginning to reach people with this message.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
Listen, keep learning, work hard, and support other women.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
Pascaline Lepeltier- changing the wine industry with truth. Mara Farrell- Consulting for Artisan Wine Brands and vegan. The two combos are heaven-sent in my heart. Janice Robinson- a female leader in the wine industry with a respected voice. She also is in belief that ingredients should be on a wine bottle and this is something I 100% and am working on thanks to her. Debra Brenner- founder of Women of the Vine & Spirits. A great woman leading a women supportive group for change and greatness for women. Blaine Ashley- Queen of Champagne! Works so hard in making good things happen for others in the industry and life. She is also the founder of New York Champagne Week and Vegan Wines is part of the event with the only 100% vegan champagne we could find.