The fourth annual Women in Wine Leadership Symposium (WWLS) held Monday, October 5th at the Helen Mills event space in Manhattan gathered leading women in the industry to explore critical issues facing women in wine today. The WWLS, hosted by The Winebow Group, is the first event of its kind with a mission to empower and educate women in the wine industry through a series of provocative panel discussions and wine tastings. Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine, one of America’s foremost authorities on food, wine, style and design, and author of the recently published cookbook, Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen, opened the conference with a keynote speech. Madeline Triffon, the first female Master Sommelier in the U.S. and the in-house Master Sommelier for Plum Market, moderated the panel discussions.
Over 100 women wine professionals participated in the half-day symposium: winemakers from around the world, sommeliers, retailers, educators, and journalists. Panels addressed topics such as “Taking Intelligent Career Risks” and “Fostering Diversity through Inclusive Leadership.” Women winemakers and winery owners led a guided tasting and wove personal histories and career insights into their comments. The passion and commitment to quality of the women in Winebow’s portfolio was further illustrated during a walk-around tasting with wines from 36 properties in 10 different countries.
Energizing the audience, Cowin had no qualms sharing her personal career challenges. On the topic of embracing failure as a path to success, Cowin revealed that when she joined Food & Wine, she couldn’t cook but had other key skills needed to lead the magazine, which she has done successfully for 20 years, greatly enlarging and diversifying the publication’s offerings and audience reach.
Speaking on the “Taking Intelligent Career Risks” panel, Jennifer Iannolo, Founder and CEO of the Concordia Project, highlighted the importance of evaluating real risk vs. imagined risk and posed the question, “Are we afraid of making mistakes and facing personal failure, or are we afraid of serious financial repercussions?”
Fellow panelist, Laura Williamson, MS, Wine Director, Mandarin Oriental New York, who has taken many risks throughout her professional life, shared, “It’s critical to have the knowledge to empower and support yourself, especially when you’re young. Do your homework! Arm yourself with knowledge— it’s an anchor and a shield against risk.”
On the “Fostering Diversity” panel, Dr. Jeanine Prime of Catalyst, a non-profit organization with a mission to expand opportunities for women and business, shared findings from their research, “Inclusive Leadership: The View from Six Countries” (May 2014). Research showed that leadership which fosters belongingness among team members creates a sense of inclusion and leads to innovation and creativity. She explained, “Employees feel unique when they are recognized for their specific talents. Employees feel they belongwhen they perceive similarities and important commonalities with their coworkers. These two equally important components need to be balanced for effective leadership.”
Fellow diversity panelist, Anna Lee Iijima, Contributing Editor, Wine Enthusiast, shared, “It requires courage to be your true self without being accused of being too sensitive or too ‘PC’. It’s important to engage people in conversation and point out that what they’re saying is insensitive as they may not even realize their comments are not okay.”
June Rodil, MS, Wine & Beverage Director, McGuire Moorman Hospitality, commented, “It’s important to feel comfortable in your own skin.” Rodil finds an effective way to continue to grow within her current position is to take on a leadership role in mentoring. “It’s important to give a sense of pride to employees and make them feel included.” She also commented on the importance of seeking mentors among women with similar jobs/responsibilities even if they are outside of your organization.
Clarice Turner, Senior Vice President, Americas Business, Starbucks, (also a member of the Starbucks Diversity Council) advised, “We need to insist on diversity for the value it brings to business.” Clarice emphasized the importance of measuring inclusion and making managers accountable for their actions, a practice advocated by Catalyst.
Moderator Madeline Triffon is recognized as a guiding light and mentor in the industry. As the WWLS moderator for three years running, Triffon shared her thoughts, “I’m personally inspired and encouraged every year I participate in this symposium. The panelists collectively display courage in sharing their stories and assessing lessons learned in a whole-hearted manner not often seen.” She continued, “Women at all stages of their lives and careers benefit from attending.”
The full panelist lineup included: Lee Campbell, Andrew Tarlow Group; Dominga Cotarella, Falesco; Jennifer Iannolo, The Concordia Project; Anna Lee Iijima, Wine Enthusiast; Gina Langone, BJ’s Wholesale Club; Carole Meredith, Lagier Meredith; Viviana Navarrete, Leyda; Maeve Pesquera, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse; Jeanine Prime, PhD, Catalyst; June Rodil, MS, McGuire Moorman Hospitality;Clarice Turner, Starbucks; Lissi Wieninger, Weingut Wieninger; Laura Williamson, MS, The Mandarin Oriental.
The Women in Wine Leadership Symposium program is guided by an advisory board comprised of leading women in the industry:Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW; Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW; Lisa Granik, MW; Karen King; Linda Lawry, DSW, CWE; Teresa Low;Pascaline Lepeltier, MS; Carla Rzeszewski; Melissa Sutherland; and Beth von Benz.
For more information, a video highlight reel and photos please visit: http://www.winebow.com/wwls. For press inquiries or access to the full photo album, please contact Elyse Genderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-605-0370.
About The Winebow Group
The Winebow Group comprises national importer and distribution houses that offer comprehensive portfolios of fine wine and craft spirits from around the world. The company represents some of the most established, family-owned properties in prominent growing areas, as well as a new generation of winemakers and distillers who are dedicated to innovation and quality. With a focus on education and outstanding customer service, The Winebow Group’s distribution network reaches nearly half of the wine consumption in the U.S. and includes the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Washington D.C. This unprecedented reach and level of service make the company unique in the fine wine and craft spirits sector. For more information, please visit TheWinebowGroup.com.
About Cornerstone Communications
Cornerstone Communications, Ltd. is a full-service public relations, marketing and event management agency specializing in wine, spirits, food, and travel clients. With over 25 years of experience, Cornerstone Communications has built a reputation in expanding brand awareness with fresh approaches and providing effective marketing solutions for luxury products. For more information, visit www.cornerstonepr.com.
Contact: Elyse Genderson
SOURCE The Winebow Group