Tanisha Townsend - Professor in Paris, where she also hosts food and wine tours as Girl Meets Glass.
How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
I’ve been in the wine industry for about 11 years now. My background was IT, but through a chance meeting and wine festival in Maryland, I moved into wine marketing, training, teaching. I’m currently a professor in Paris, where I teach wine courses and host food and wine tours as Girl Meets Glass.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
The real “aha!” moment, when I knew I could actually have a career in wine, came during a visit to Bourgogne. I was there to become a Certified Bourgogne Wine Educator. After a week of tastings and visits, just seeing the magnificence of it all…I knew that wine was going to be more than just a side hustle or weekend project. Wine then took a front seat in my life.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The people I get to meet! I mean yes, I drink amazing wines too, but I get to meet people from all over, all walks of life, with so many different experiences. We only share a few hours together during a tour or a tasting, but there are some that have stayed with me and continue to keep in touch and follow my journey.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
I can’t recall any prejudice experiences simply because I am a woman, because I am also black and THAT is usually the ‘issue’. There have been a few instances of people saying ‘oh, I didn’t know you all were into wine…’ And I respond, “Who exactly is ‘you all’??”
Women are victims of the patriarchy as well, and often are 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?
I think exactly that: actually be aware. When certain feelings or thoughts start to rise up in us, take a step back and look at ourselves and really think about the situation. Is the situation really a problem, or is it us?
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
All of the benefits! Women are amazing cheerleaders and to have a group of cheerleaders rooting for and supporting you is such a good feeling.
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 more of us! And definitely in owner, CEO, executive positions.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
Do it! This industry is a lot of hard work and studying and networking, but the rewards are absolutely magnificent and worth it.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Equality looks like equal opportunities and equal pay for all.
In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
I believe I’m contributing to equality in wine by showing up, speaking up, and sharing myself and my knowledge with others.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
A wonder woman of wine is sharp, confident, fearless, she speaks her mind and doesn’t hesitate to lift others up.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
I admire Marie-Ines Romelle of Marie Cesaire Champagne, the first black woman to own and produce Champange. Her story of resilience and perseverance is just wow… she never gave up! And her champagne is DELICIOUS!!