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Women in Wine Putting Their Unique Twist on Sustainability

image of napa winery

When you hear the world sustainability, what comes to mind? For some, it’s how we as humans can do a better job at taking care of Mother Earth. For others, it’s products that are considered biodegradable or made from recycled plastics and other natural products. Whatever your definition, one thing is for sure: Sustainability requires all of us to take responsibility and use what we’ve got to improve the life we’re currently living.

Within the wine industry specifically, sustainability isn’t just focused on the agricultural processes that help to produce some of our favorite wines and the manufacturing process for the bottles, cans and boxes our wines end up in. Rather, it can be viewed as a more holistic approach to improving the entire industry from the vine to the glass. This includes social sustainability within wine organizations.

For decades, wine has and continues to be a male-dominated industry with slow advances in diversity and inclusion being made. According to the 2020 Gender Equality Study by The Wine Nerd and Lift Collective, “61% of respondents estimate it will take 10+ years to reach equality in wine.” While that timeline might seem painfully long, there are trailblazers who are demonstrating that radical change can happen from the vineyard all the way to the board room.

12 Women in Wine Making Strides in Sustainability

Meet twelve women who are uniquely using their platforms to make strides of sustainability within the wine industry.

  • Lindsay Hoopes: A second generation proprietor and life-long wine enthusiast, Hoopes is dedicated to enhancing Napa Valley’s farming communities. With Hoopes Vineyard, she has adopted regenerative agricultural practices and bio-diverse farming initiatives – all of the vineyards are complete with “holistically grazing” animals, water recycling systems, and bio-diversity practices aimed at enhancing the overall health of their ecosystem.

  • Chevonne Ball: A certified sommelier and French Wine Scholar, Ball has made the Willamette Valley her home and is changing the way people think about Oregon wine. She was recently named one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers of 2020 and a Rising Star by SevenFiftyDaily. As the founder and owner of Dirty Radish, her travel company, Ball offers specialty wine tastings, consulting and curated experiences that are engaging, insightful and enjoyable.

  • Simonne Mitchelson and Justin Trabue: In the summer of 2020, wine industry changemakers and colleagues Mitchelson and Trabue decided to launch Natural Action Wine Club, a nonprofit that not only supports BIPOC natural winemakers, but also encourages more people of color to explore careers within the industry. “We aim to play a part in fostering an equitable environment that reflects the world around us and betters our society as a result,” says their website.

  • Chenoa Ashton-Lewis: A third generation grape farmer, Ashton-Lewis’ winemaking journey began during a visit to her family’s vineyard in Sonoma County. Along with Will Basanta, Ashton-Lewis began their winemaking journey in October 2019 and have since been making Ashanta Wines their way – following no traditional wine making practices by sourcing their fruit from 80% female growers who farm with organic and/or biodynamic practices. Ashanta Wines are unfiltered and unrefined with zero sulfur dioxide additions to allow for the purest form of the fruit to shine.

  • Justine Osilla: While she was heavily encouraged by her family to pursue a career in medicine, Osilla followed her heart and turned her love for wine into the career of her dreams. Since betting on herself, she’s had the opportunity to work in every facet of the industry: from sales and marketing to vineyard and cellar management. When she isn’t sharing her journey on her Instagram page, Osilla studies enology at Fresno State University.

  • Founders of Be The Change Job Fair: With over 25 years in the industry combined, these four women have brought together their talents and passion for wine to bring forth change. Cara Bertone, Philana Bouvier, Lia Jones, and Rania Zayyat were meant to sit on a conference panel in March 2020, but instead connected via Zoom to create the beverage industry’s first job fair with a core focus on diversity and inclusion.

  • Founders of Hispanics in Wine: While working in wine public relations, Lydia Richards and Maria Calvert had the idea to create an organization that provides Latinx professionals feel empowered and encouraged to pursue careers in the wine industry. With over 30 members in community, Hispanics in Wine will continue to grow and amplify Hispanic/Latinx roots in the beverage industry.

We can’t wait to see what these amazing women in wine accomplish in 2023 and beyond.