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 wine for around 9 years now. When I got out of the military, I felt like I had lost my sense of identity. I ended up in San Francisco and got offered a job at a small European wine bar. I knew that white wine went in the little glass, and red wine went in the red glass and that I had a lot to learn. Years passed and I left to work for Donkey and Goat in Berkeley and as a buyer for Vino Volo. It was really exciting to buy from small producers and give them exposure in the airport. I moved back to Dallas in 2021 to be near my family and try something new. I saw Pangea Selections, an Austin based importer and distributor, was hiring and I was able to connect with the owner, Grant. I've been working for Pangea now for around 6 months as the North Texas sales rep.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
It sounds corny to say but Burgundy. We did a side by side of Sonoma Coast and Pommard at my first job and I was hooked. When I was first studying wine, I couldn't figure out why all the conventional wine tasted like skittles to me. I was able to take some classes from San Francisco Wine School and that's when I learned about all the manipulation of flavors. It's still shocking to me that people don't know how many chemicals are in conventional wine.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
I love building and being a part of a community! It’s a really exciting time to be living in Dallas with so many people moving here from all over. New bars & restaurants are opening every week so we have the opportunity to bring wines to a new audience. I personally love seeing more diverse wine lists in the area and I think our neighbors do too.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
Being organized and planning my schedule has been the most helpful tool in sales. I love spending time with my friends, sharing a meal and wine together. I enjoy exploring new cities, but also love hiking around Texas with my partner and our dog.
What changes do you hope to see in the wine industry in the next five years?
I hope to see more hybrid wines in shops and restaurants around Texas. Christopher and Jannea from The Two Eighty Project & Erin Rasmussen from American Wine Project are making some of the most exciting hybrid wines out there. With wildfires and frosts devastating harvests every year, we have to start taking hybrids and co-ferments seriously.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Equality to me means that everyone is getting a seat at the table. For far too long, wine has been inaccessible to the majority. Just like sharing wines with different backgrounds, we can gather together and share our own stories. It also means protecting our peers and making sure they have a safe, diverse workplace.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive wine industry?
There is a lot of cultural elitism with natural wine when at the end of the day, wine is just wine. I have gone into all kinds of accounts that might not be familiar with natural wine, so I have that opportunity to make it fun & approachable. I volunteer to pour wine for many different spaces that are inclusive and affordable, making them accessible for everyone.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the wine industry as you?
Listen and ask questions. You learn a lot by just paying attention. Advocate for yourself! If you feel like something is wrong, say something. When in doubt, cookies are a great way to make friends.
Name some people who inspire you in the wine industry and please explain why.
Julie Buckner and the safe space she has created in Dallas. She is never afraid of taking a risk.
Jirka Jireh and her work with Industry Sessions is incredible. I love seeing her reach and I hope to work with her one day.
Richard Aspillera for giving me a chance and continuously mentoring me.
And all the womxn i've been able to work with & meet along the way, thank you for showing up!