Brianne Day, 9.6.19
How many years have you been in the business? Tell me briefly about your background and your current position today.
I have been fully in the business since 2008. I first fell in love with wine, then winemaking and then decided I wanted my own winery. I worked first in production learning to make wine, and then began working in other parts of the industry to learn how to market, sell, and distribute wine. I have been a server, a Wine Director, a retail worker, a tasting room manager, a distribution rep, a barrel rep, and a cellar hand.
I have been a winery owner and winemaker since 2012 and currently make about 6000 cases annually.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into wine?
I had just turned 19 when I traveled internationally for the first time. I was in northern Italy when I first really had an “aha!” moment and it was more about the cultural connection and means of cultural expression that wine provided that first drew me in. It stuck with me forever. That and also the realization that I was magically able to take a place with me through wine, and experience that place anywhere.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Oh god, all of it. It is such a rewarding endeavor. I get so much personal pride when I take a risk with a wine and it turns out well. Everyone else on the planet could hate the wine, but if I think it’s right and well made, no other opinions matter.
Conversely, when I make a wine and people really respond to it, and choose to experience my craft in their lives, when there are thousands of other wines to choose from, that’s huge for me too.
Can you describe any prejudices you’ve experienced in this industry as a woman?
Yes, it’s been mostly simple or ignorant men and women who say thoughtless things to me sometimes. Or they don’t talk to me at all, they direct all questions to the nearest man. When this happens, it doesn’t really bother me. It hasn’t happened from anyone I respect or who has influence to better my business. No one who is important to my business acts this way to me.
I’ve had equipment reps come in and say, “Is the winemaker is here? Could I speak with him?” and whenever that happens I tell the rep that the winemaker isn’t available, with zero explanation. If these bozos want to sell a winemaker equipment, maybe do a little homework and find out whose name is on the sign outside.
I’ve also had neighbors in the area say incredulous things to me about being a woman who started the business - that my parents or husband must have made it possible. I try not to be offended by it, I feel that it’s an opportunity to expand their world view.
Writers, buyers, distributors, and serious consumers have all been great and haven’t shown prejudice based on sex. It’s possible that I didn’t get jobs in the past because of my gender but I don’t have any reason to think that’s the case.
How can we as women become aware of our prejudice and change our behavior?
In general? Or toward women? I guess, generally speaking, when I find myself being judgy I try to note it, and call my own attention to the fact that I am doing it, so I stop and figure out why I am thinking those thoughts. There’s usually some sort of inner insecurity that drives it, when it happens to me.
When it comes to wine, what benefits do you think we’ll see as a community by better supporting women?
Well, I think it extends beyond wine. Women being given a fair and equal shot, on equal footing, will only result in a better and more stable world situation. Supporting small business owners puts money back into the community as opposed to a corporation. Publicly respecting and valuing women teaches the next generations that gender doesn’t determine life path, women deserve respect, that girls don’t have limits that boys don’t.
What change do you hope to see in regards to women in the wine industry in the next five years?
I hope that equality becomes normal enough that we don’t need to talk about gender anymore. I want to be called a “Winemaker” and not a “Female Winemaker”. I want it to be about the wine and not my gender.
What message do you have for women entering the wine profession?
Just to go for it! It’s a fun, deep and interesting rabbit hole to go chasing down. Work hard, don’t expect anyone to make it happen for you, and love it.
What does equality in the wine industry look like to you?
Again, I think for me it’s when being a woman in the wine industry is so normal we can stop talking about it. No one calls a doctor who is a woman a “Female Doctor” or an lawyer, or architect, or many other professions - but when it’s a new thing, an industry women aren’t typically a part of, we get this extra descriptor. I want women in wine to become so normal we don’t need to put our gender in the title.
What ways would you say you are contributing to equality in wine?
By being a strong and fair business owner, who expects to be treated equally. Not with special favors for being a woman, and not with disrespect or lack of opportunities for being a woman either.
What are some defining characteristics of a wonder woman of wine to you?
I really don’t know, I’m sorry.
What other women of wine do you admire and why?
Virginie Joly, for taking on her father’s legacy, and making it her own by adapting it to her own values.
Rachel Driver Speckan for being a powerhouse and building her career in the midst of becoming a mother to two kids.
Alice Feiring, for speaking what she believes is true even when it isn’t or wasn’t the popular belief. I don’t think it would be comfortable or easy to be a magnet for criticism in this way, but she’s standing up for her beliefs and I respect that.