How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
My career in wine has felt like a lifetime and simultaneously has also just begun! I've been in the industry for just under 2 years after I found myself in a pandemic career-shift. Prior to wine, I was working in the music industry, where I was a Talent Buyer for almost 7 years booking shows for a handful of music venues and festivals around the country for C3 Presents. During my career at C3, my passion for wine started to bubble and I enrolled and passed WSET Level II at home. During the pandemic, I completed and passed WSET Level III and started my first job in the wine industry as a Tasting Associate out at Southold Farm + Cellar in Johnson City and also launched my business Wild Wine Saloon, which focuses on bringing natural wine education in an approachable format through consultations, group tastings and pop-up events. Currently, I still operate my Wild Wine Saloon business and also serve as the Central Texas Wine Representative for Pangea Selections, a natural wine importer and distributor based in Austin.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
Funny enough, I always think back to the first time I tasted Martha Stoumen's 'Out to the Meadow' white blend at the first Wonder Women of Wine Conference (now Lift Collective!) in Austin back in 2019. That was when I recall beginning to feel very curious about the wine industry and when Austin still felt super young in terms of the local natural wine presence. I was inspired by so many amazing women who were in attendance at the conference that I looked up to for leading the way in wine and had the ability to try some amazing natural wines that weren't currently available in Austin that I will never forget. I left there feeling energized and passionate to learn everything I could about natural wine, enrolled myself in WSET II and never looked back.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
My absolute favorite part of what I do is spreading the natural wine gospel to people in a way that's approachable and fun. My goal with wine is to make it accessible for people in a way that I wish it was accessible for me when I started getting into wine. In doing so, I'll never get tired of watching people catch the wine bug right in front of me that may have otherwise found it too intimidating.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
One of the biggest practices I'm learning to take on as it relates to wellness is prioritizing what meaningful work means to me and when to say 'no'. This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn after working in the music industry for so long, where I became programmed to take on anything and everything, even when it meant sacrificing a healthy, balanced life. By prioritizing and defining what meaningful work means to me, I'm able to find joy and balance in the every day while having 'work' not feel like 'work'!
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
More diversity, more representation and more natural wine on restaurant lists! Truly, there is so much work to be done in the wine industry. On top of wanting to see more diverse representation, I would love to continue to see people breaking down the barriers with wine education and seeing leaders champion approachability and inclusivity while actually doing the work! In addition, I want to continue to see thoughtfulness and intentionality in bringing great wine to 'weird' places. One of my favorite things to discover is great wine at gas stations, coffee shops, airports, or festivals where it's often overlooked and would love to continue to normalize making great wine accessible to all places within the industry.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
If we are going to see equality in the wine industry, we have to see people of all races, ethnic backgrounds, sexualities and genders in roles of power. Without representation we cannot grow to be equal in the industry. In order to create a more equal representation for this industry, it will require those in power to put forth a genuine effort to lift up the voices of the less represented by providing them with better access to education, experience and exposure in areas they have the ability to control.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
To start, I aim to achieve inclusivity in the wine industry in the way that I communicate with anyone about wine. Whether that be a client, customer, wine buyer, or novice wine drinker that I speak with, I try to make talking about it approachable so that there is less of a barrier to entry. In addition, I recently started an industry-based social meet-up in Austin with 5 other leading industry women who meet monthly at different wine establishments around town called Current Vintage Social Collaboration that aims to start a new "wave" of wine that garners the very idea of inclusivity in the industry. All are welcome!
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
If you don't have time, money or resources to take any of the accredited wine courses out there, start small and read books, or find a fun podcast and throw it on in the background in your spare time! I learned so much about wine from hand-selecting books and geeking out on podcasts that after a while, talking about wine started to become easy. Another tip I'd give is while there are so many regions and varietals out there that can feel daunting at the beginning of your wine education, I'd recommend sticking with a region or varietal you are interested in and buying bottles of just that for a period of time and then skipping to a new one. This will help you wrap your head around that region or varietal with greater depth rather than jumping all over the map when you are first starting out. Lastly, have fun and try new things! Wine is supposed to be fun and there are some amazingly talented and very cool people at your local wine shops and restaurants who spend every day buying wine they are passionate about. Get to know them and you will gain pieces of their knowledge just by proxy!
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
Helen Johanneson for being THE pillar for wine approachability, making it fun and just being an overall badass woman in wine. Speaking of great podcasts, I know several people (myself included) who have learned tons from her podcast, Wine Face.
Rania Zayaat for ACTUALLY doing the work for wine inclusion in the industry and being an overall lovely human and badass woman in wine.
Adrienne Ballou for being a woman PIONEER for minimal intervention Texas winemaking, always showcasing inclusivity and for being another badass woman in wine.