How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
I've been with H-E-B for 21 years, and a Beer & Wine Manager for 7 of those. What started as a part-time job through college has led me to a career that has lasted more than half of my life.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
I was looking for a career change from being a Store Manager, and I sought advice from a mentor of mine. He suggested that I become and Beer & Wine Manager because I'm a foodie, and after a few months of studying, that's how I changed paths.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
I love being a part of customers' lives- whether they are celebrating an anniversary, birthday, birth of a child, a promotion, or just gathering with friends to try a new recipe. It is so rewarding to help them find the right beverage for the occasion, especially when they come back and let me know how much they enjoyed it. It's also really fun to share stories about winemakers and breweries with our customers, bridging the gap between the maker and the consumer.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
I love being outdoors, and enjoying nature with my dog Pepper really recharges me. With all of the constant interaction we have during the work day, it is nice to disconnect and listen to the sounds of a trail crunching under my feet, a running stream or river, birds chirping, wind blowing, and just let all the stress go.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
I hope to see more women's stories being shared and heard, to show the younger generations that representation matters. Hopefully we have more women not just going into labs, but cellars. We need more POC in visible leadership positions in the industry.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Creating a seat at the table for everyone. When I attend industry events, I want to see diversity in wine leadership, and representation from all walks of life. Everyone's voices should be heard, and we need to shake up the status quo.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
In my role, it's important for me to share the stories of female winemakers with our customers. By sharing their stories, it helps change the perception of the wine. Customers are more educated than ever, and I urge them to do the research and learn about the great women who are out there doing the work. I'm also working on an initiative with women in our H-E-B wine business to create a peer-to-peer mentorship program to support and empower each other.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
Don't be afraid to be loud and take up space. Our industry is historically male-dominated, and we still need to learn how to make our voices heard. It's true, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, so don't be shy to share your thoughts and opinions.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
I had the opportunity to interview Philana Bouvier for a "Women in Wine" class I was teaching in March. As an AAPI, I am so glad to see other women like me in the industry. It has definitely felt like there are very few of us. She was so successful at an early age and climbed the ranks in wine quickly. What she's doing now to change the landscape of the Napa wine world is so inspiring to me and I love sharing her story.