How many years have you been in the business?
I have officially been in the business for 10 years.
Tell me briefly about your /background and your current position today.
I enjoyed a successful career in Finance, when I discovered my true love and created a career for myself in the world of wine. I am a Certified Specialist of Wine, French Wine Scholar, WSET Certified, and currently a student in the WSET Diploma program. I started my business Corks and Cuvee in 2014 as a wine consultancy. I opened my first wine shop and tasting room in 2018.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
My “aha” came when I realized my travel, dining, and all my spare time was spent studying wine.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love introducing clients to new varietals and sharing the stories behind the wine. My wine career allows me to connect with people all over the world. I get a history, geography, and tasting lesson with every bottle of wine. I am always a student and I love being in position to learn more about what I love to do every single day.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
I have had many assume I am not the owner of my wine shop. I have gone to many professional tastings where I was the only person of color and people assuming I was in the wrong place. I had the owner of a wine establishment tell me he knew what I wanted because he knew African American women liked Moscato. Needless to say, I passed on the suggestion and the location.
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 should look at our commonalities and opportunities to learn from each other. Collaborations are the best. I just recently entered into a collaboration with another wine sister who lives in Oregon – Wine Sisters of the Vine®.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
You will add voices to the conversation that should be heard. When you support women, you support family and community. Women should have a seat at every tasting table in the world.
What changes do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?
I would like to see great female winemakers not referenced as great female winemakers but great winemakers. I would like all wine professionals no matter the race, gender, etc.. be referred to a wine professionals without the leading descriptor.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
I would give this message to both women and men entering into the wine profession. Love what you do, work hard, be confident, pay it forward. Always remain a student – when you think you know all there is to know you don’t. Finding a mentor is always beneficial. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Equality in the wine industry looks like the fabric of America. All races, all genders, all people represented.
In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
I am contributing by showing up every day. I have an all-female staff at my wine shop where we welcome all. I provide education to them free of charge and I provide career path opportunities. I have also partnered with another amazing wonder woman of wine to bring light to this very subject. I am so excited about my collaboration with Wine Sisters of the Vine®. The focus is all about diversity, inclusiveness and highlighting diverse human beings in the food, wine, and hospitality industries.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
Women who are creating their own lane in this space, women who show great courage in creating their lane, women who create opportunities for other women, and women who give back to their communities.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
Kerry Boenisch: I admire Kerry because she, through her writing, gives voice to all aspects of wine. She grew up on a vineyard in Oregon and still lives there today. Kerry understands the importance of diversity and inclusiveness in the wine industry. Elina Brager of Cellar Filler: We have been going through our wine education journey long as I can remember. She is a dynamo. I love her. Steffani Farrell Bethea: Another female wine shop owner who was so helpful when I shared with her that I wanted to start my own wine shop. What Steffani showed me is a perfect example of one of the previous questions asked about how women help other women in this space. I would be remiss if I did not mention Ophelia Santos, who taught the best WSET 3 course ever, and Andrea Robinson, MS.