Morgan Perry, 4.5.19
How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
I have been working in wine for about ten years. I started off in wine PR & marketing, working at a creative agency in NYC. After my “aha” moment (see next question), I started taking WSET classes to better educate myself about all the intricacies of wine.
I got into yoga around the same time, and after I resigned from being VP of the agency, I took some time off to do my yoga teacher training. To mix up the final class I was to teach, I added in some wine facts and ended the class with a wine tasting post-savasana. Thus, my current company, Vino Vinyasa, was formed, about two years ago. (I also still do wine PR as a consultant, for the region of Alto Adige and for a few other clients on a project basis!)
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
I had been marketing wine for several years, but it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to go to Chile on a press trip that it all started to make sense to me. Meeting the winemakers, seeing their passion, visiting the vineyards and wineries and learning more in depth about the process (and of course getting to taste the fruits of their labor) made me want to learn even more.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing my student’s eyes light up when they learn something new for the first time, receiving feedback that they appreciated my teaching style and the takeaways I am able to give them in such a short timeframe.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
Most of the prejudices I have experienced have been based on my perceived age (and in turn, experience). Because I am petite and naturally look young, some people have (wrongly) assumed that I am not qualified to have a seat at the same table as them.
How can we as women become aware of our prejudice and change our behavior?
I try not to be intimidated by people who may know more than me. By asking intelligent questions and demonstrating my eagerness to learn, I hope I am seen as driven and curious.
I have also been guilty of not speaking up when I have felt uncomfortable, and more women need to be strong enough to speak up when this happens. The movement has begun and many of us have been inspired by its momentum.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
Women across all industries need to feel empowered to step into high-level positions, and we need to make sure that’s a realistic goal. Now is the time to give women the tools and support they need to be as successful as (or more successful than!) their male counterparts.
What change do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?
I hope to see more female leaders and business owners in the industry.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
Being driven and not giving up will take you far in any industry. As a self-employed entrepreneur, I have found that taking a fresh, creative approach in an industry that is steeped in tradition has brought my company into the spotlight time and time again. There is room for creativity and change, so think about how to differentiate yourself.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Females getting not only the respect they deserve, but also the salaries they deserve.
What ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
I work with women across the industry on a regular basis—highlighting female winemakers in my classes, volunteering my time for female-focused events, and I have hired four smart, successful women to work for me at Vino Vinyasa.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
A risk-taker who isn’t afraid to go for what she wants.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
The first person who comes to mind right now is my friend Victoria James. Aside from all the success she has had as a sommelier and beverage director, she has written two books, contributes to a number of media outlets, is a social media powerhouse and an overall rockstar who has overcome a lot. Anyone who heard her keynote speech at W.W.O.W can attest to her overall bad-assery.
But there are a number of women who also come to mind: Rebecca Hopkins and Cathy Huyghe hold a special place in my heart because they help folks find ways to incorporate wellness into an industry known for being anything but healthy.