Veronica Meewes - Social Media Manager sharing stories of many wonder women of wine across the globe
How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
Food and beverage has always been a big part of my life; I’ve worked in various front and back of house roles starting in high school. I studied writing, photography and sociology at Sarah Lawrence College, but when I began writing about food and drink in 2005, it was really nothing more than a hobby. I’d just moved to Austin and was working in the non-profit world— first for a city-funded art program for teens, and then at a residential treatment center for kids who had been abused and neglected. Writing about such creature comforts was a welcome respite from the stress of each workday. When I was offered the position of Austin editor for Zagat, I saw this as a sign to take the plunge and begin writing full-time. My articles have appeared in Forbes Travel Guide, Food & Wine, Texas Monthly, Tasting Table, GOOD, PUNCH, The Today Show, The Local Palate, Serious Eats, Austin Monthly, Texas Highways and more. These days, I work on a variety of different projects, from copywriting for Whole Foods to book projects (I just edited the newly released Odd Duck Almanac with the restaurant group behind Odd Duck, Sour Duck and Barley Swine). I also began working at eastside wine bar APT 115 this past winter, which has been a great lesson in talking — as opposed to writing — about wine and the people making it.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
I wish I had a romantic story about one particular bottle that really opened my eyes to the possibilities of wine. However, it was a more cumulative progression than that, kickstarted by my various travels. (There are certainly a couple of destinations that especially piqued my interest— namely Germany and Chile.) Over the years, I started to see wine as much more than just an accompaniment to food. There is so much history, geography and philosophy contained inside each bottle, and I find that fascinating.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Meeting all the incredible makers and creators I’ve had the opportunity to connect with across the glove. The freedom of a freelance lifestyle is also certainly rewarding, and I am thankful every day to have the opportunity to explore the world and the many ways its cultures are deliciously manifested.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
I still encounter people who are surprised when they find out I am traveling by myself. Or who think a woman sitting at a bar or restaurant alone must be waiting on a date— or looking for one. But I’ve been fortunate enough to not personally experience much more prejudice than that (at least, not to my knowledge!)
Women are victims of the patriarchy as well, and often are harder/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 becoming aware of these prejudices, first and foremost, is the first step. The next is actively working to support and empower other women rather than see each other as competition.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
I believe that the more diversity there is in any industry, the better and stronger it will be!
What changes do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?
More women in leadership positions and equal pay.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
I would say it is imperative to trust in yourself enough to take risks — and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We are all constantly learning, which is one of the things I love most about wine.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Equality means respect and equal pay regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. Gender is just one of many factors at play.
In what ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
As a writer, I have the unique opportunity to tell stories, including some that have never before been told. And now, as Social Media Manager for W.W.O.W., I can also help tell the stories of all the talented and intrepid wonder women of wine already out there— and in turn, hopefully inspire others to join this industry.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
Fearless, passionate, hard-working, benevolent
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
Last year’s inaugural W.W.O.W. conference was hugely inspiring thanks to the many amazing speakers participating. I was especially moved, as I know other attendees were, by Victoria Cote’s brave words about the discrimination and abuse she’s experienced as a young sommelier. I also love the way Marissa Ross has been able to use her platform as a writer, as well as her following on social media, to educate across a variety of demographics. And while her content can be zany and entertaining, she does not shy away from discussing important issues and acting as an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. In an industry linked so often to leisure — and indulgence — it can be all too easy to avoid discussing these difficult topics.. and imperative that we don’t.