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Inspiring Leadership Through Education: 21 Women Leaders Awarded Scholarships by the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation

by Press Release
November 14, 2019

Healdsburg, Calif.—To better empower and support the professional development of the next generation of women in the wine, food and beverage business, 21 women leaders were awarded educational scholarships by E&J Gallo Winery's Women Behind the Wine Educational Fund in collaboration with the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation. The scholarships are supported by an annual $100,000 donation by E&J Gallo Winery, through its Women Behind the Wine platform, to the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation.

Scholarship winners were welcomed on Thursday, November 7th to J Vineyards & Winery for an awards celebration hosted by Gina Gallo, Vice President of Estate Winemaking at E&J Gallo Winery, Nicole Hitchcock, Head Winemaker at J Vineyards & Winery, Deborah Brenner, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Women of the Vine & Spirits, and Béatrice Cointreau, Board of Trustees Member, Women of the Vine & Spirits Board Foundation.

"Thanks to the generous donation from E&J Gallo Winery, the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation is able to provide scholarships to foster the next generation, cultivate leaders, feed the talent pipeline and attract more women to join us in the food and beverage alcohol industry," says Deborah Brenner. "Receiving a scholarship can literally change someone's career trajectory and provide benefits that go well beyond financial assistance."

"These funds are helping support women in our industry and contributing to their success as empowered leaders, now and in the future," says Gina Gallo. "Their unique and diverse voices are making wine and food more innovative, interesting and daring. I am proud of our family winery's legacy of supporting education and inclusion through programs like the Women Behind the Wine Educational Fund."

The 21 scholarship winners include three who earned $10,000 grants for Master of Wine, Master Sommelier and university-level studies. The 18 Fuel Your Dreams Award winners received up to $3,000 to help provide education, resources and opportunities to thrive in wine, spirits, food and related industries.

The $10,000 Elizabeth Smyth Student Scholarship was earned by Yordanos Gebru, a master's degree student in Vineyard and Winery Management at Bordeaux Sciences Agro, France. The $10,000 Master Sommelier Scholarship was awarded to Mariya Kovacheva, MS, Brand Account Manager Wine South U.S. at Pernod Ricard. Mariya earned her Master Sommelier certification in September 2019. The $10,000 Master of Wine Scholarship was earned by Sarah H. Bray, DipWSET, wine writer and brand consultant, SHB Communications.

Fuel Your Dreams Scholarship Award Winners include:
Julia Ammons, Arizona
Michelle Beathard, Florida
Cristin "Moxy" Castro, Texas
Bryanna Cooper, Washington, DC
Chasity Cooper, Illinois
Tracy Cryder, Arkansas
Rachel Ford, Georgia
Brenda Kowen, Texas
Madison Malott, New York
Omolola Olateju, New York
Jennifer Pyle, Montana
Keely Rosenthal, North Carolina
Kelli Silva, California
Cedar Stoltenow, Illinois
Meghan Vergara, California
Nicole Walsh, California
Chelsea Young, Georgia

To learn the inspiring stories of each winner, contact Kristina Kelley at For more information about the scholarships, visit the Women of the Vine & Spirits Foundation or Women Behind the Wine websites.

About Wine Dialogues
With support from E&J Gallo Winery, Wine Dialogues engages industry retailers, experts and consumers in a conversation about the business and social aspects of fine wine retailing through current research, trends and commentary. Women Behind the Wine is an extension of the E& J Gallo Winery culture that encourages personal and professional development and celebrates the collaborative and innovative environment that is created when a person is recognized for their individual talents and potential. 

About Women of the Vine & Spirits
Women of the Vine & Spirits is the world's leading organization dedicated to empowering and advancing women in the alcohol beverage industry. Women of the Vine & Spirits is an organization for members to connect through our global and diverse network and collaborate across all industry sectors. Together, we are a committed community taking action and making a positive impact on the alcohol beverage industry, worldwide. For more information, please visit

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