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Stephanie Franklin - Houston Remote Corporate Sales Specialist for Bending Branch Winery

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 business for about 3 years now. I worked in Corporate Sales and Marketing for over 14 years. I left the corporate world and worked for nonprofit organizations for about 5 years. After studying WSET 3, my purpose became clear, I wanted to plant a vineyard, become a winemaker and provide wine education. My first wine opportunity was a Wine Field Contributor in June 2019 where I profiled Slow Wineries in Sonoma. My first harvest was with Troix Nois Wine in August 2020. My second internship/harvest was with Bending Branch Winery in Comfort, TX. I now work for Bending Branch Winery as a Houston Remote Corporate Sales Specialist.

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

My aha moment was when I studied WSET 3 in 2019. I knew then that I wanted to be a vintner and plant a vineyard.

What is the most rewarding part of what you do?

The most rewarding part of what I do is that I'm doing something that I love. I'm learning different areas of the wine business which is very exciting.

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

I take time for myself each morning to pray/meditate. I block out all of the noise. I'm always doing something and sometimes you need to be still.

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

I hope to see more people of color in the wine business, specifically more growers and vintners. I hope to see wages that fair for everyone.

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

Equality in the wine industry looks like equal opportunities for everyone, no matter the color of your skin, gender or your religion.

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

I share what I learn and the opportunities that come my way, such as internships, mentorships and scholarships. Partnering with like minded people to bring more awareness about diversity and inclusion in the wine industry.

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

I would tell this person to be sure that this is what they want, it' hard work and long road ahead, but stay the course. Do everything with love, keep believing and keep pushing. It's bound to happen and NETWORK!

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

First of all, there are several people in the industry who I admire. Theodora Lee is a lawyer with a passion for wine. If you don't know her story please read it. She's a phenomenal African American Vintner and her wines are amazing. She's so down to earth. I had the pleasure of meeting her about a year ago. She gave the best advice about wine business. Another person in the industry who I admire is Ntsiki Biyela. She's smart, ambitious and the first black female winemaker in South Africa. I met her at a wine dinner in Houston. She also gave me some great advice about the industry. Shout out to all women in women!

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