Kathryn Hermann - Six years ago, she founded 00 Wines with her husband.
How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
I am the proprietress of 00 Wines, a 100% family-owned and operated global luxury brand with wine projects in the Willamette Valley, Burgundy, and Champagne. I was drawn into the wine business 6 years ago by my husband Chris Hermann, who has been an attorney representing wineries for over 30 years. My career background is in product development and marketing for high-tech startups. When the Hermann family decided to start making wine in Oregon, we looked at each other and said, “let’s make it happen.” We’ve been growing the business together ever since. I run the day-to-day operations of 00 Wines and I’m currently focused on bringing elements of agile startup operations into 00 Wines so that we can spend less time running the business and more time focused on the high-end customer experience.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
On the first date with my husband, he pulled out a Comtes de Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre from the early 2000’s. Enjoying a white Burgundy with some age on it is truly one of life’s special pleasures. For me, wine is not just about what’s in the bottle. It’s about the people with whom you enjoy it with. By the end of the bottle, we were already making plans for the future together. And we’re working on those plans right now.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is learning spending time with people from different cultures and countries. From my little desk in Oregon wine country, I regularly work with people in Asia, Europe, and Australia to produce and move our wines around the world. I also love getting photo messages from people who are enjoying 00 Wines with a personal note about how our wines make them feel happy. Wine is the universal language of fun and togetherness.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
Sometimes people think that my husband Chris makes all of the decisions for the business and they defer to him. I think this is often the case in a family business when the business is run by a man and a woman. But we truly make all of the decisions together. Also, innovating within the industry has been hard for me because there is a lot of “that’s how we do it around here” mindset. Women are problem solvers. We make things happen. I like to solve problems by asking hard questions and pushing boundaries. I’m never satisfied with the way things are. I think we all can do better, each day. That’s not always taken so well by the old guard.
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?
We have to look at the history of our business before we can change the future. Women have been running wine business forever! By learning about the strong women in history and our elders who are still here, we will have the context and confidence to move forward as the next generation of women in wine, together.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
Women have tremendous purchasing power in the wine market. By supporting women within our industry in all job roles, we are also sending a powerful message to women wine consumers. I’ve personally heard many wine consumers express they are committed to spending money on women-owned wine business and wineries with women winemakers. By caring about each other within the business, we show our consumers that we care about them too.
What changes do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?
As in our wines, I seek balance in life. The wine business can be incredibly out of balance when it comes to gender representation, especially in the luxury category. I would like to see more women in executive and leadership roles in the high-end wine community. Also, luxury wine is a powerful asset class. It’s one of the only assets that predictably goes up in value over time (as long as you don’t drink it!). I’d like to see more women start their own serious wine collections.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
To take care of others, you have to take care of yourself. I’m still working on this one! When you enter the wine profession, you will experience many late nights with endless bottles of wine flowing. It is very fun, but you have to learn how to manage your professional wine life with your own enjoyment. Use a spit bucket, get enough sleep, and focus on your own wellness. Wine is part of a healthy lifestyle, if you can manage appropriately.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Each interaction we have is a movement toward or away from equality. Equality looks like treating people kindly, providing opportunities for career growth, and inviting everyone to be an insider. Wine is a global beverage, let’s think globally and act locally!
In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
At 00 Wines, we contribute our time, money, and wine to causes that work on issues of equality in wine. One of the most important organizations that we support is ¡Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction. For over 25 years, ¡Salud! has been dedicated to providing healthcare services and outreach to Oregon vineyard workers and their families. And for over 25 years, ¡Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction has been the only opportunity to access Oregon's most exclusive Pinot Noir cuvées, straight from the winemakers who produce them.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
All women of wine are wonder women to me. Whether women are office administrators sending invoices or on the front lines in the tasting rooms, or in the cellar racking wines, we are all wonder women making this industry move. It takes many strong, hardworking wonder women along the journey of the wine from vineyard to glass to make it happen.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
I admire many women historically and presently in the wine industry, but there is one woman that I admire the most: Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, who grew up to become Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin. She took over her father-in-law’s Champagne business at 27 years old, invented the riddling table, produced the first vintage champagne, and beat her competitors into the Russian market to celebrate the ending of the Napoleonic Wars. Then she built an incredible mansion in Reims. She’s my type of gal.