Maria Magdalena Sosa - An ambassador for Bodega Garzón for wine education in U.S. & Canadian markets
For how many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
I have been involved in multiple fun facets of the wine business since 1999. I studied Agricultural Engineering in Chile and specialized in Viticulture & Oenology. After graduating, I had the opportunity to do research on health properties of red wine phenolics at the University of California, Davis. Years later, I worked in the cellars and became assistant winemaker at Spring Mountain Winery in St. Helena, CA. After returning to Chile, I worked as an assistant Winemaker for Viña Santa Carolina, and later became PR Manager for Carolina Wine Brands. Most recently, I have been collaborating with Bodega Garzon from Uruguay (my home country) as an ambassador for wine education. I am based in Seattle, where I do the education, support the commercial team with all the tastings, festivals, wine conferences and presentations in US and Canada. My idea, once my kids leave the nest, is to spend longer periods of time at Garzon getting more involved with winemaking practices.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
Growing up in beautiful agricultural countries like Uruguay and later Chile, made me be certain that I wanted to find a career path that would allow me to be in close contact with nature and plants. I have also developed a passion for different art disciplines through my life, from drawing to acrylic painting, photography, sculpturing and ceramics. As I was casually touring Viña Santa Rita in Chile with my family, I had the opportunity to listen to Alvaro Espinoza (the winemaker), and discovered the variety of creative dimensions and artistic aspects of wine making. That was the moment I realized could channel my passion for art in wine making.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Bodega Garzon has given me the opportunity to represent my country through their fine wines. As an Uruguayan, I am proud to show Uruguay’s emblematic grape Tannat and honored to share it with the rest of the world.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
I became in charge of the cellar crew when working at my first job. Being the only women present in a cellar full of men became frustrating at times. Not being heard or taken seriously made me want to prove that I was prepared to the work better.
Women are victims of the patriarchy as well, and often are harder/more judgmental of other women as a result. How can we as women become more aware of our own prejudice towards each and change that behavior?
I believe that recognizing and realizing how underrepresented women are in manager positions in the agricultural industry should help us come together to find creative ways to voice our opinion and demonstrate our capabilities to create, supervise or manage in the wine business.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
The industry of wine is growing, therefore as a community should encourage and lift women up. Women in this industry have great talent and should have the opportunity to demonstrate it in higher-impact jobs.
What changes do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?
Hopefully more women in higher decision-making roles. Many women have great people skills and the ability to see and solve problems differently, and would make great business leaders given the opportunity.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
Be persistent. Be creative. Be bold. This is what the wine industry needs today.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Being shown the same appreciation by the media and consumers for your contributions to the industry, as well as receiving the same opportunities to grow and be successful.
What ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
As a brand ambassador, I get to share my work and talk about wine everyday. I want to share my passions and inspire women as much as men in the industry.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
Innovative, hardworking, self-confident, authentic and passionate about wine.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
Madeline Puckette, author of Wine Folly’s wine book, is a woman in wine I admire because she is devoted to disseminating wine knowledge through her book and other media (posters, drawings, charts, art), making wine knowledge easy to understand to everyone.