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Hannah Crosbie - A London-based word-writer and wine-drinker. In 2020, she founded Dalston Wine Club

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

I’ve been learning about wine since I was semi-illegally serving pairings at a fine dining restaurant when I was 17. It was an interest that lay dormant for many years, until I moved to London. When I met the amazing like-minded London wine community, I finally felt confident to go public with my writing and ideas. I started out as a writer, but soon realised the real lack of inclusivity the wine industry had to outsiders; specifically, women around my age. Anyone will tell you that in order to learn about wine, you have to taste, taste and taste some more. But unless you're lucky enough to attend trade tastings, or you have the money to open several bottles of wine a night, there just aren't those opportunities for normal people to learn. That's where Dalston Wine Club comes in, it's definitely something I wish had existed when I was just starting out. It's the opportunity to taste 4 glasses of wine from a specific region, producer or variety, and learn more about them in a relaxed environment.

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

The Dalston Wine Club was the space were I was fully able to dive into wine and become excited in welcoming space!

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part by far is meeting all of the amazing people who attend the wine clubs, many of whom are young, female and have never felt confident to come to a wine event before. Seeing them have the confidence to ask questions and learn in a totally casual, zero-judgement environment is exactly the kind of thing I hoped to nurture through the events. Some have even gone on to start wine blogs or review pages of their own - that's truly amazing.

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

I've been lucky enough for people to be mostly nice to me (to my face), but wine is most definitely still a boys club. There's a need to overprepare, outperform and really stretch yourself, just to feel like you can be a part of the conversation. I've been in tastings where the person pouring the wines has acted markedly different towards groups of men and groups of women. I've been to trade tastings where there is not one POC in the room. We still have a long way to go.

When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by advocating for diversity and inclusion?

If you only hear one point of view, you'll only get one idea or one way of doing things. I think that's why the wine industry has been so stagnant for so long. Listening to people with different points of view and lived experiences to us will naturally foster a more diverse and inclusive industry.

What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?

More opportunities for people from lower economic backgrounds. Private schools only make up about 10% of the country's school, yet every other person I meet in the wine industry was privately educated - there's definitely a correlation there.

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

Not having to have a second thought about whether you belong or whether you should make your ideas heard.

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

Dalston Wine Club was started to bridge the gap between young people and exciting wines, to give them the same exposure to amazing tasting experiences as everyone in the trade does, at an accessible price. I think cost is one of the biggest barriers young people have to tackle to get into the wine industry. I know not everyone can afford the wine clubs I put on, which is why I also started the Dalston Wine Fund a few months ago - where proceeds from the wine clubs pay for a WSET Level 1 in Wine for someone who applies to the fund. The response we've had is amazing.

What message do you have for anyone now entering the wine profession?

If you feel like there's no one in the wine industry that you can relate to, or no one who wants to listen - keep looking. You'll find your tribe.
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