Molly Austad, 4.12.19

Photo by Maggie Bankston

Photo by Maggie Bankston

How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.

I started in the industry as a hostess when I was 16, so about 12 years now. In college I worked summers at a wine bar in San Antonio. It wasn’t until I moved to Austin, however, that I found my passion for wine. Currently I am the beverage manager for Jeffrey’s and Josephine house.

Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?

When I was a server at Josephine House in 2014 I was fortunate enough to be part of a tasting led by our then beverage director and a wine collector who introduced me to Burgundy. Specifically wines from the Cote de Beaune. I had never tasted wines of that caliber before and it was an eye opening moment for me. It’s what made me want to discover what other wines were out there.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Guest experience. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a life changing experience at a restaurant and it’s my hope that our guests get to have an experience like that at our restaurants every single night.

Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?

We work in a very open minded city. Occasionally you’ll get a guest that asks for a Sommelier and is surprised when a woman walks up to the table, but it’s never been an issue. Fortunately, I work alongside some of the most supportive and professional men in the business so prejudice isn’t something I come into contact with often.

How can we as women become aware of our prejudice and change our behavior?

I think respect is earned through hard work and professionalism. If we can keep up that standard we will be recognized and appreciated for what we contribute to our industry.

When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?

I think every wine professional has something unique to contribute to the conversation of wine. Different views and opinions raise questions and inspire thought. I think by supporting each other as women we are more likely to voice those opinions and learn from each other.

What change do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?

I would like to see more of us! More women getting certifications, more women on the floor. There is always an excitement in our restaurant when all of our female employees are scheduled on the same day because it’s rare to have so many of us under one roof.

What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?

Be humble and open minded. There is so much to learn from both men and women, mentors and peers in this profession. You never know what amazing opportunities may present themselves if you remain unpretentious.

What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?

Hiring the best person for the job regardless of gender.

What ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?

I went from a serving position at Josephine House, to a lounge server at Jeffrey’s, to Captain and up to management. Our company supports hard work and dedication. By working my way up I hope I’ve been inspirational to our staff as a whole.

What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?

A woman who is earnest, respectful, progressive, and driven.

What other women of wine do you admire and why?

There are many women of wine I admire. I’ve worked alongside and under some powerful and brilliant women. My current inspiration is a coworker who came from retail, worked for her promotion within the restaurant, and has become a leader on our team. Her dedication to studying the world of wine and seeing her translate that into sales on the floor while providing the utmost hospitality to our guests is truly admirable.