There are more women breaking into the wine and restaurant industries than ever before. According to the Wine Institute, “women have put a new face on the industry, taking lead roles in sales, marketing, hospitality and distribution. There are also increasing numbers of women sommeliers, traditionally a position held by men. Women have proven they can succeed in all areas of the wine business through hard work and dedication.”
By following these five steps my dream of working at a winery came true.
Gain Confidence Through Education
Wine certifications will provide credibility and confidence for breaking into the wine industry. There are several wine certification programs in addition to one-day wine workshops spanning broad wine knowledge to focused discipline. Committing to any type of formal training exposes you to likeminded peers and future mentors, as well as post-nominals to use after your name on resumes and business cards.
Form a Network of Industry Connections
Networking is key in any industry, especially in wine. Make as many female connections in the business as possible. No matter where you live, start a dialogue with industry professionals. Many of my initial contacts before studying at NVWA came from my initiative to connect with wine professionals on LinkedIn. Ask for referrals! Attend local wine-related events, join wine groups, and attend local/national trade association events are great exposure.
Surround Yourself with Strong Women in Business
Find wineries that are proponents of women in wine providing internship opportunities. Boutique and larger wineries offer structured internships during harvest (September – November) to help with production and business development work. Sharon Kazan Harris, Owner and Director of Winemaking at RARECAT Wines offered me my first internship in the summer of 2015!
Make Your Dream a Reality
Focus on working at a winery that has women in top positions. Finding strong women leaders and long term mentors is invaluable to your future success. Create opportunities for yourself by knowing what you want and asking for it! Women already working in wine love to support those breaking into the industry. My internship turned into a full time job at RARECAT Wines!
Don’t Ever Give Up
There are more women joining the wine industry than ever before. Your dedication and passion for working in wine must prevail. Commit to these steps and you will be one step closer to starting your wine journey and realizing your dream!
Jennifer Curry, WSET grew up in New England and works F/T at RARECAT Wines splitting her time between North Carolina and California. She oversees the RARECAT Wines Ambassador Program and loves learning about the wine business and technical side of winemaking, having made her first Provence style Rose’ during the her 2015 harvest internship. Curry has traveled around the world and loves to blog about her travel, food, and wine adventures.