March 2, 2019 9:00am-4:00pm

March 3, 2019 10:00am-2:00pm


The Sunset Room

310 East 3rd Street

Austin, Texas 78701


Business Casual

What to Bring:

Pen and notebook


Coming in from out of town?

We are partnering with The Carpenter Hotel for a discounted rate using a custom promo: WWOWCON

Instructions for booking:

  1. Log on to The Carpenter Hotel website

  2. Click Book Now at bottom of page

  3. Search dates

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  5. Enter promo code WWOWCON to get discounted rate


W.W.O.W. 2019

March 2nd 2019

A forum of national wine professionals discussing personal experiences with, and solutions for, fostering gender equality in the wine industry.



March 2, 11:20 am

We are thrilled to welcome Karen MacNeil as the keynote speaker for our inaugural conference. The former wine correspondent for the Today Show was the host of the Emmy Award-winning PBS series Wine, Food and Friends with Karen MacNeil, the first food and wine editor of USA Today and has been published in more than 50 newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur and Town & Country. Karen MacNeil is the only American to have won every major wine award given in the English language, including the James Beard Foundation’s Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year award and the International Wine and Spirits Association’s Global Wine Communicator of the Year award. She is also the creator and Chairman Emeritus of the Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America in the Napa Valley, which has been called “the Harvard of wine education,” and the author of the award-winning book The Wine Bible, the single best-selling wine book in the United States. 



Entrepreneurial journalist Senay Özdemir has a vast breadth of experience spanning many different facets of the wine industry. After writing for multiple Dutch publications, she founded the women’s magazine SEN before moving to Austin to teach at UT’s School of Journalism. When she couldn’t source wines from her native country of Turkey, she began importing wine, and then went on to found a wine marketing agency called House of Red & White to promote winemaker’s untold stories. She is also a TEDx speaker, the executive producer of the first documentary about women leadership in the wine industry and she is currently organizing the first Women in Wine Expo in Europe this spring.

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Shifting Paradigms in the Wine World
March 2, 9:15 am

How can we eliminate gender-based barriers and create an environment of inclusivity in the male-dominated wine industry? One way of disrupting the status quo is to shift the focus from accreditation and experience to education and equal opportunity. The women leading this discussion run Austin organizations that embody such inclusivity.

Peggy Hanley, Wine & Food Foundation of Texas
Mandi Nelson, ATX Somm Society
April Alejandro, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits

The Path Less Traveled
March 2, 9:50 am

As winemaker who is queer, black and female, Krista Scruggs represents a triple minority in an industry she is proudly helping to diversify. After working for one of the largest wine conglomerates in the country, a harvest season in Cahors inspired Scruggs to change directions and begin a renegade path to winemaking, studying under Deirdre Heekin at La Garagista before launching ZAFA Wines. In the past year, she has debuted her first Vermont-grown vintage of biodynamically-farmed hybrid grapes co-fermented with foraged apples, bottled pét-nat crafted from Texas-grown hybrid grapes and opened a Burlington tasting room in collaboration with Shacksbury Cider. This past summer, Wine Enthusiast named her one of the industry’s top 40 young innovators. Scruggs will be discussing her experiences as a minority in the industry where she’s forged her own path to success as the owner of ZAFA Wines.

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Life as a Wine-to-Five-Mom
March 2, 10:25 am

Working mothers everywhere can attest to the difficulty of achieving work-life balance, but mothers in the wine industry face a unique set of challenges. These leaders in Texas wine distribution and supply will discuss the effect of motherhood on the representation of women in leadership roles and talk about how becoming a parent affected their own careers. Other topics covered will include maternity leave, advocation for equality and solutions to help support to parents in this industry.

Vilma Mazaite, Domaine Select Wine & Spirits
Meghan Caiazzo, Victory Wine Group
Soncy Chin, Favorite Brands

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A New Frontier in Texas Winemaking
March 2, 12:50pm

With more and more innovative winemakers committed to using Texas-grown grapes, planting varieties native to warm Mediterranean climates and garnering acclaim in international competitions, it’s an exciting time for Texas wine. Rae Wilson founded Wine for the People in 2010 to promote Texas wine through monthly wine club tastings and special events. She established a Texas Hill Country vineyard in 2015 and produces Dandy Rosé, a dry rosé made from 100% Texas-grown grapes, and The Grower Project, single-site wines crafted to highlight the state's terroir. After studying Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis, Adrienne Ballou went on to lead the barrel program at Jester King Brewery before returning to the world of wine. She is currently the winemaker for Southhold Farm + Cellar, and she released a limited run of 100% Texas-grown Mourvèdre in 2018 under her first label, Lightsome Wine. These two trailblazers of a wine region still in its infancy will discuss their experiences in the industry, what measures should be taken to ensure more women move into lead winemaking positions and how they are using their positions to build a sustainable platform for diversity.

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To Test or Not To Test
March 2, 1:25 pm

Accreditation is a huge topic in this male-dominated, testing-centric world we live in. But how do women validate their success in the wine industry? Many women choose to measure their successes as a wine professional without taking these exams. We will hear unique viewpoints from a Master Sommelier, a Master of Wine, and a non-accredited wine professional. All three will explain how they prefer to measure their success and why they chose their individual paths.

Marissa Ross, Bon Appetit
Christine Canterbury, MW
Rania Zayyat, Wonder Women of Wine, Advanced Sommelier

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The Minority Report
March 2, 2:00 pm

In 2016, 62% of all graduates from UC Davis’ Viticulture and Enology program were women, yet only 10% of winemakers in California are women and only 4% of the state’s wineries are owned by women. Cathy Corison, the first woman to work in a Napa cellar, will discuss how she navigated the road to hard-earned success without the help of a single investor. She will be joined by other trailblazers who are dedicated to elevating female wine entrepreneurs in the state of California.

Cathy Corison, Corison Winery
Martha Stoumen, Martha Stoumen Wines
Amy Bess Cook, Woman-Owned Wineries
Samantha Sheehan, POE Wines
Alison Smith Story, Smith Story Wine Cellars

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Get Up, Stand Up
March 2, 2:55pm

Women are typically great advocates for others. But in a world where men have historically held leadership roles, advocating for yourself can be intimidating, to say the least. Female leaders in the wine industry will conduct this important discussion on self-advocacy. Learn how to understand and convey your value as a professional based on your experience, skill set and years in the industry. By teaching women to feel more confident asking for what they deserve, we hope more leadership positions will continue to be filled with female talent.

Kelli Frizzell, Serendipity Wine Imports
Josefa Concannon, Louis/Dressner Selections
Cara Bertone, Folio Fine Wine Partners
Melissa Sutherland, Author/Panebianco Wines


Letters to a Young Wine Prodigy
March 2, 3:30 pm

 After Victoria James took her very first wine course, she dropped out of college to become a cellar hand in Manhattan, work harvest in Sonoma and pursue sommelier certification. By the time she was 21, she was certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers and pouring wine in Charlie Palmer’s Auerole as one of the youngest sommeliers to work in fine dining. In the past seven years, James has gone on to work at some of New York’s finest restaurants, win multiple awards, and pen the best-selling book Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé. These days, James is a partner at Gracious Hospitality Management, which includes Michelin-starred Korean steak house Cote, where she is the beverage director. James will discuss what it was like to navigate the New York wine world as a young female sommelier, the decade of journals that have led to her next book project and the non-profit she is launching in hopes of putting more women in positions of power in the beverage industry.

March 3rd 2019

4-hour tasting exhibit featuring female-owned wineries and female winemakers, importers, and other trade. Three 30-minute panels between 11am - 1pm. Attendees may sign up for two panels.


Rising Above Beer Bro Culture
March 3, 11:30 am

Women in the beer industry have historically faced — and still face — many of the same challenges seen in the wine industry. In this panel, female leaders will discuss how they advocate for gender diversity in their workplace and create an environment of inclusivity against all odds.

Sarah Jane Curran, Beer Me!

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Women Making History
March 3, 12:10 pm

Ghislaine Dupeuble, the newest winemaker at her family's 15th century domaine in Beaujolais, recently became one of the youngest people in history—and one of very few women—to receive the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole. Awarded by the French ministre d’agriculture to the likes of Jacques Pépin, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Louis Pasteur, and even Kermit Lynch himself, the medal recognizes those who have made and continue to make a significant impact preserving France and its agricultural resources. The award is a particular honor and accomplishment after only 20 years since joining the family’s 500-year-old estate. Ghislaine will highlight the important history of women in wine and speak about the passion and savoir-faire of her late parents, Damien and Danièle, that laid the groundwork for her success.

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Ready for Liftoff
March 3, 12:50 pm

In a country where women only receive 2% of the funding invested by venture capitalists, launching any kind of business is challenging for female entrepreneurs. But industries where women are already historically underrepresented, such as the wine industry, present a unique set of trials. This panel will shed light on the resources available to women interested in launching a wine business while offering tools for communicating effectively, handling rejection and achieving ultimate success.

Mary Derby, DAMA Wines
Cathy Huyghe, Enolytics
Amy Bess Cook, Woman-Owned Wineries
Julia Dixon, The Gravity Imports
Jenny Lefcourt, Jenny & Francois Selections