How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
Since my childhood, I was involved in winemaking because for Georgian people, winemaking is a undividable part of the lifestyle. My family has their own vineyards and we were always making our family wine for regular use. I was taught viticulture activities by my father and got very interested in nature and vines. I have a Master degree in Wine Tourism (WINTOUR) after graduating a year ago. During my study, I had to live and work in old wine countries like Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. My study program prepared me for winemaking activities, I met very talented winemakers, tasted amazing wines and slowly realized I wanted to be a part of wine industry. When I came back to my home country of Georgia, I decided to make my dream true and started working on a new project which turned out quite successful. I founded a Georgian wine and tourism school in Kakheti (the main wine region of Georgia) and collaborated with Gogi Dakishvili (one of the great winemakers of Georgia). The school is dedicated to spreading wine knowledge in Georgia, and to implement international standards and help local professionals improve their knowledge. Now we make trainings and master classes for local and international audiences. I hope soon I can find partners and create an amazing community as passionate about Qvevri and Amber wines as I am. Winemaking was another brave decision for me. I’ve made wine for five years but I only started bottling my wine in 2019. I take winemaking very seriously and believe there is so much to learn. However my passion is so true that I just can’t live without wine. This is how my wine brand Vinome was born.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
Before winemaking I was working in the tourism industry. Thanks to my previous profession, I discovered the amazing world of wine. I was asked to plan a personalized wine tour around Georgia for a wine journalist, Miquel Hudin, who was planning to write a guidebook about Georgia. During the tour planning, I got connected to almost all the wineries and winemakers in the country. I had the possibility to travel and visit the most incredible wineries, taste wines and listen to winemaker’s stories. Each winemaker had an amazing story and philosophy. Those conversations and wine trips were opinion-changing for me. Since that trip, I was more oriented to wine tourism and soon I changed whole my career into wine.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding part of my job is to be able create my own wine. This gives me ability to emphasize myself , my style and signature.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
I think every woman, including myself, has experienced some kind of prejudices in her life. Since I came back to Georgia, I started working hard to develop my wine school project. However, I had to face many difficulties from my colleagues. Still many people think that women in the wine industry can’t be professionals like men. Many people didn’t believe me or trust my ideas just because I was a young female. Sometimes I am even judged by my appearance just because people’s preference about hard working people is not exactly what they see in me. Such situations helped me to gain patience and self-respect, and I got more wiser and confident. I realized that you should follow only your heart and believe yourself.
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 and change that behavior?
Ohh how strong women could be if they realized together they are the strongest. Our problem is jealousy; we are so concerned on each other’s success or career that at some point we lose ourselves. A little bit more loyalty, friendship and understanding is a key. I always try to be in touch with as many women as possible. This creates strong community and way more opportunities for both sides.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
We can create special wine fairs, online platforms, social networks and conferences where women will share their experiences to each other. It would be great if there was a mentorship opportunity for young women to get advice from successful women winemakers. Last year I became a scholarship holder in Women in Wine Expo. Unfortunately the conference was postponed because of COVID-19. Despite the current situation, I still got to meet amazing women in wine. We created great online conversations, introduced our wine to each other and started planning future collaborations.
What changes do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?
I hope our community will get stronger, maintain more power and inspire thousands of women to create amazing projects.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
Believe in yourself and fight for your dreams. There will be people who will be doubtful about your project. Maybe some of them advise you to wait because you are not ready enough. Some will tell you that you are too young, or some just start teaching you how you should act. But always remember who you are. Remember what your heart wants. Be true to yourself and keep walking towards your dreams.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Equality for me is same opportunities for everyone. When your products are not judged due to who you are, but by the quality and work you put into it.
In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
I am managing two wine projects in Georgia and one of them is the Georgian Wine & Tourism School. As a woman, equality is very important for me. So my wine school has a quotation, meaning we accept same number of male and female students each time.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
I have a special role model who is exactly a wonder woman for me. Her name is Francoise Mayard. I had a chance to work with her in France and I was amazed by her fierce character and all the working skills she had. A wonder woman of wine is someone who faces all the difficulties, has inner peace and confidence. She has control over any kind of situation, takes risks and is never afraid of being mistaken. A wonder woman of wine is a decision maker, and her work is priceless. She is a great example of how the impossible can become possible.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
I admire women in viticulture and the work women do in the vineyard. Taking care of vines is something super inspiring for me. I respect women who put such effort into creating a healthy vineyard.