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Lydia Richards - Owns & Operates Wine education and Events company Vino Concierge and Co

Updated: May 23, 2022

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

I have been working in the wine industry for five years. Previously, I worked in Marketing and PR in the fashion industry, but always kept coming back to wine. I took wine and food pairing classes after work, and slowly but surely, it started taking over my life. In 2015, I decided to fully commit, take sommelier and WSET lessons and make the official career change. I created my private wine education and events company, Vino Concierge, in 2017. As of 2022, I also work as a PR Manager for Palm Bay International & Taub Family Selections.

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

There were a lot of little moments that fueled my love for wine. After graduation from University, I lived in Paris for a few months to learn the language. Living with one of my closest friends, who was French and a real wine connoisseur, really opened my eyes to the different French wine regions, styles and the culture behind it, from then on I was hooked!

What is the most rewarding part of what you do?

I love teaching consumers, especially Black and Latinx, about wine, making it fun, approachable and open. My cultural duality as both Black and Latina allows me to connect and engage with them on a much deeper level. I love seeing people's faces light up once they start figuring out their wine preferences and also realizing that they can bring them to their culture and everyday lives, pairing them with their favorite foods, etc.

What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?

It's been a journey, but I started exercising regularly. In the past, I had never been good at keeping up a regular exercise routine, but now, it is an essential part of my day. Even if I have a crazy one ahead (happens often!), I try to at least do 15-30 minutes of cardio or yoga, and it truly has done wonders for my well being. Additionally, I have also adopted a more balanced and healthy diet, lowered my alcohol intake and incorporated daily green smoothies with superfoods like acai, spirulina, turmeric, moringa, etc. While I definitely see the physical changes (my skin has improved, weight, and more), the most important thing has been my mental health - I feel more productive, sharp and with energy to take on the day. It is a constant work in progress and while I do not limit myself extensively (I still love my wine and my yummy, fatty foods), I've realized it's all about balance!

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

More job and educational opportunities for BIPOC looking to enter the industry and/or further their careers. We need more diverse professionals in positions of power and decision-making, as this will have a trickle up and down effect that will be long-lasting and impactful for a more equitable industry.

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

The moment I walk into a room filled of wine professionals and I'm not the only BIPOC person there.

How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?

Through our work with @hispanicsinwine, I really do believe we are creative a more inclusive industry, particularly for Hispanic/LatinX individuals. We created this centralized digital space for individuals to feel welcomed by the industry, to find important English and Spanish resources, to provide a sense of community with other Hispanics & Latinx alcohol and hospitality professionals, and more importantly, to educate the public about our communities and amplify the diverse talent and knowledge we offer and promote more representation in the industry. One of the key moments for me, realizing that we are building something beautiful, was when we created the first-ever @latinxwinesummit in October 2021. We enjoyed powerful discussions that have and will continue to change the landscape of the wine industry. I'm so proud of what we have accomplished and I am so excited to continue the work, can't wait to share with you all our upcoming projects!!!

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?

Network, network, network! Take advantage of every opportunity you can get to interact with people already working in the industry! From DM'ing them on Instagram to attending events, make sure you are connecting with people who have a career progression you aspire to have. Building strong personal and working relationships is key.

Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.

So many incredible people I can name that are doing amazing work, but the first that come to mind are (future is indeed female!): -Maria Calvert (@mariarcalvert): my partner in wine and work wife is one of my favorite wine people. Her passion for advocacy and helping others inspires me everyday, and makes me want to work harder and harder! -Ikimi Dubose (@writesbyshe): I don't think anyone works harder than Ikimi, I do believe she should run for office. I love her enthusiasm and passion for every single person and project she takes on with @rootsfund. I'm so lucky I get to work with her through my work with Hispanics in Wine. -Tahiirah Habibi (@sippingsocialite): Honestly, I could go on and on, but she's truly the GOAT. I'm constantly inspired by her and all the incredible initatives that she has implemented in the industry. Her work will go down in our industry's history. -Chasity Cooper (@chasityscooper): Another incredible wine professional ,I'm so at awe of her work diversifying wine journalism through her incredible writing. I always look forward to reading all her articles as soon as they published and can't wait to see what she does next. -Anna-Christina Cabrales (@annachristina722): Her wine knowledge and passion are remarkable; I love hearing her speak about a wine she loves, her talent to convey a wine's history is wonderful. Also, her work with @sommnation_live is inspiring!
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