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First Annual "Women in Wine: Fermenting Change in Oregon" Sells Out

by L.M. Archer
July 10, 2019

Turner, Ore. - Change is thirsty business. On July 8, 2019 more than 200 beverage professionals gathered under sunny skies at Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner, Oregon for the first annual “Women in Wine: Fermenting Change in Oregon.”

“We’re thrilled with selling out over 200 tickets, with an all-volunteer committee, and with this beautiful day at Willamette Valley Vineyards,” said committee member Carrie Wynkoop, owner of Cellar 503.

The full-day function pivoted around speakers, panels, and presentations geared towards personal growth, collaboration and connection. “Oregon is super-collaborative, and there are many events, and there’s a lot of sharing that goes on,” explained fellow committee chair Briana Seeley, vice president of consumer sales for Adelsheim Vineyards, “But we realized there wasn’t something that was specific for women in the industry. More importantly, we wanted to talk about things that were outside of the wine industry, up-leveling the professionalism of individuals, and providing [necessary] resources.”

Powerhouse speakers like Meg Crofton, former president of Disney Parks and Resorts, touched upon the importance of following one’s ‘inner compass’ to guide one’s life path. DRY Soda CEO Sharelle Klaus and Philana Bouvier, VP of new business development at Young’s Market Company, took on the topic of ‘Empowering Female Leaders,’ while bestselling author Cheryl Strayed dove deeply into ‘Risk Taking and Challenging Yourself.’ Additional break-away sessions covered issues like ‘Unconscious Bias’ with Susan Freeman of “Women’s Business Connection,” ‘NextGen Marketing Solutions’ with Jason Parks of Barkley, and ‘Leadership Styles’ with Sarah Graves of inviteCHANGE. Overarching themes centered around leadership, mentoring, and authenticity. “I always think it’s powerful to have people gathered in a room who are all thinking about things with intention,“ said keynote speaker and Portland resident Cheryl Strayed, “And how to celebrate, too, the powerful work that women have done in this industry.”

Attendees ranged from winery and small business owners and their employees, to distribution companies, legal firms representing wineries, and wine industry support organizations. Most participants journeyed from nearby Willamette Valley and surrounding areas, while others ventured from as far as southern Oregon, the Columbia Gorge, and Washington state. “These types of events are an important opportunity to remind ourselves of our successes, and a chance to gain perspective on areas [where] we can continue to grow as we shape and influence our industry,” observed Robin Hawley, Associate Winemaker at Sokol Blosser Winery, “I really appreciate hearing from leaders in other industries about their experiences. Strong leaders are the same, regardless of industry and, I think, also regardless of gender.”

Audience age and gender demographics varied from Millennials to Boomers, plus Generations X ,Y and Z, and a few intrepid men. “I thought it was a terrific event,” said James Frey of Trisaetum Winery, “I took my daughter Tatum, who’s going to be a junior at the University of Oregon this fall. Our industry, like so many others, needs more women winemakers, more women in positions of leadership, if we are going to reach our full potential. Events like today are a great step, not only to starting some of the conversations that really need to take place, but also great for inspiring those who will be our future leaders. I think my daughter found it to be not only inspirational, but aspirational as well.”

Host Willamette Valley Vineyards provided the breathtaking backdrop and locally-sourced luncheon. Generous sponsors included Travel Oregon, Country Financial, CRUSH Creative Packaging, Northwest Distribution & Storage Wine Co., Signature, Mobile Bottlers, Southern Glazer's Wine & Spirits, Columbia Bank, Cork Supply, JD Fulwiler & Company Insurance, Ponzi Vineyards, Willamette Valley Wineries Association, and Young’s Market, with swanky swag bags from Women’s Diversity Group, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Elephants Delicatessen, Saké One, Jack Daniel’s, and Union Wine Company.

The robust Women in Wine: Fermenting Change in Oregon ( volunteer committee boasts a bevy of influential industry leaders: Carrie Anderson, on-premise sales rep, co-president Women’s Partner Network of Young’s Market Company, Christine Clair, winery director of Willamette Valley Vineyards, Tom Danowski, CEO/executive director at Oregon Wine Board, Annette Gregorich, Director of Human Resources for Young’s Market Company, Chris Hein, vice president of food & beverage at The Old Spaghetti Factory, Kristin Marchesi, director of operations for Beck Family Estates, Laurie Lewis and Renee Neely, co-owners/co-winemakers of Hip Chicks Do Wine, Merritt Olson, director of sales for Mitchell Wine Group, Amy Prosenjak, president of A to Z Wineworks, Briana Seeley, vice president of consumer sales for Adelsheim Vineyards, Alison Sokol Blosser, co-president/CEO of Sokol Blosser Winery, Susan Sokol Blosser, Founder of Sokol Blosser Winery, Deborah Steinthal, managing director of Scion Advisors, Anne Weaver, Co-Owner/CEO of Elephants Delicatessen, Cheryl Wilkerson, Administrative Assistant/Event Coordinator at Young’s Market Company Oregon, Brent Workman, VP Portland branch manager at Young’s Market Company Oregon, and Carrie Wynkoop, Cellar 503 owner.

This committee clearly set the tone for future events. “I think that we are all clear that we’d love to have this event happen again,” concluded Carrie Wynkoop, “And continue to capitalize on the folks that were here this year, grow it to be a larger venue, and attract more and more people to be able to talk about these important issues.”

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