Meghan Siemers - Sustainability Systems Manager of Gundlach Bundschu Winery
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've been in the wine industry for almost two years now. I started out across the country in Florida working as a sustainable and organic farmer whilst earning my masters degree in Global Sustainability and Climate Change. Now I get to combine the research of ever-evolving sustainability science and the application of innovative agricultural techniques and technologies to achieve the end goal of mitigating climate change and producing beautiful wines.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
I really wanted to work in an agricultural sector that could have a legitimate impact on the health of our land & atmosphere. Keep in mind, being midwestern raised, I really had no idea about the wine industry prior to my introduction to it around 2017. When I actually saw the rolling hills of vines and massive amount of acreage a single ranch could take up, as well as the amount of money available in the industry, I immediately knew the impact winegrowing could have on sustainable agriculture as a whole and needed to be a part of it.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
There is something so special about witnessing your work come to life and educating others on what's happening. Whether that's watching cover crops grow, increasing wildlife and native plants, or finishing a disease and pest-free growing season, the reaction from neighbors and coworkers to the ebb and flow of our ecosystem and vines never gets old.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
My weekends are sacred self-care time dedicated to recharging, hiking & cooking! I love trying new things and exploring. Every weekend, my fiance and I try to hike somewhere new, and on Sundays I love making a recipe from scratch, particularly ones I've never made before. These things, along with my cats Rex and Xander are medicine for my soul.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
I hope to see less producers greenwashing the term "sustainable" and more taking legitimate climate action through regenerative agriculture and carbon reduction or neutrality plans in both grape growing and production.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Increased opportunities and access. If not born and bred into the wine industry, it can be a difficult one to understand or tap into as it comes off as quite exclusive. However, take one step inside a trade show and the opportunities and sectors within are endless. Once these opportunities are introduced to people from all walks of life, I believe we will start to see more equality.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry
Honestly, being a part of BCo makes me feel as though I'm contributing to DE&I initiatives of the industry. Majority of our leadership team is female and we are making active efforts to expand our diversity even more. In addition, as a woman holding a managerial position that is typically male-dominated, I also feel I am helping to dwindle down the amount of double-takes women in the future will receive when stepping out into the vineyard.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
Be confident in your abilities and never stop learning.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
Mimi Casteel—a powerhouse Oregon viticulturist dedicated to regenerative agriculture. She has such a strong, articulate voice for describing the regenerative movement and its necessity that I really look up to. Towle Merritt— aside from being my boss, Towle’s work ethic and passion for the job always keeps me motivated and hungry for even more. He has a knack for innovation and never settles for less than your or his best. Jim Bundschu—as the patriarch of the Bundschu family, it’s impossible to not be inspired by this epic farmer. His connection to the land and zest for nature and farming helps me stay rooted in my own values and aspirations. Mike Benziger— Mike is a huge pioneer for “green” wine, creating the first certified-Biodynamic wine from Sonoma County. The ability to create a movement is awe-inspiring, but to do so in an industry so rooted in tradition is truly amazing.