May 24, 2023
Karin Rockstad, Spanish translator, WSET Educator, SWS, FWS, IWS, Albariño Ambassador, Certified Advanced Cava Educator
Nikki Erpelding and I attended the Women in Wine Expo in London just a couple of weeks ago. It's a unique event where women in all aspects of the wine industry come together for networking and learning. There are so many different roles in the wine world, and if you work in one of them, you may not know much about the other ones. This was a chance for winemakers to talk to marketing experts, educators to talk to grapegrowers, etc. And we all got to talk to a cork producer! Super cool!
This is also a special gathering, as it focuses on women, who are still underrepresented and less celebrated in the wine industry.
We listened to talks from Queena Wong of Curious Vines, who is a champion and mentor to women studying for MS or MW qualifications, along with newcomers. We also got to hear her a second time a few days later at the London Wine Fair as she moderated a talk on retaining female talent.
Sally Evans spoke about starting her own Bordeaux winery, Chateau George 7, in her mid-50s. Sally had no wine experience other than loving wine and now her wines win awards. Laura Riches of Laylo told us the story of she and her friend believing that good boxed wine could be made and that the packaging could also be appealing, so they started a company.
There are women in wine organizations throughout the world, so it was a pleasure to to learn about what's happening in New Zealand, Portugal, and Ireland. Nicky Grandorge, Micaela Fonseca, and Sinéad Smyth showed that no matter how far apart we may physically be, we can connect and support each other.
Women across the globe are (still) dealing with the same issues in the profession, such as gender bias, harassment, and lost opportunities because women still do the lion's share of work in their family homes. The WIWE was a great space to discuss these topics and find possible solutions.
We spent a day down in Kent (traveling on an old double-decker bus!) at the Balfour Winery, a gorgeous setting for some delicious "British bubbles." This estate makes sparkling wine in the traditional method using Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Meunier. The UK wine industry is growing by leaps and bounds and sparkling wine is their signature. This area has the same soil types as Champagne and now, the same climate as Champagne did years ago. Look for other producers in the London Wine Fair link above to find out if they are exported to where you live. They are not to be missed!
The keynote presentations were by Semya Bas, Senior Manager of Brand Strategy at Constellation Brands, and Ritu Singhal of Fine Wine & Champagne India. They discussed issues facing women in the Turkish and Indian wine industries, which are even more complicated than elsewhere. I felt inspired when hearing the stories of these growing wine regions. I had had Turkish wines in the past, but never Indian ones. I didn't even know India made wine! How great to know that there are women winemakers in these places fighting to put their regions and themselves on the map, and in wine lovers' glasses.
Women from 26 countries attended this Expo and the grand tasting at the end of the event showcased some of them. What sheer bliss to taste wines from Sweden, Portugal, South Africa, Mexico, New Zealand, India, and The Republic of Georgia, where the Expo was held last year (see my Instagram posts @garbanzo.grrl for that).
To my sisters in wine, I highly recommend this event, so follow it on social media @womeinwineexpo and the founder Senay Ozdemir @senay_pr. Senay and her team did a wonderful job of welcoming us and providing a platform for such meaningful connections. I send out a huge thank you to them! Who knows where we'll all meet next year?
Thanks also to my roommates, Nikki (@winegirl365), Elizabeth (@elizabethhigley_wine), and Cyndy (@cyndypellegrin), consummate wine professionals and just a whole lot of fun to be around!
(Photo credit to the above shot of the Thames River and London to Cyndy - wow!)