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

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


The Sunset Room

310 East 3rd Street

Austin, Texas 78701


Coming in from out of town?

Reserve a room at The Carpenter Hotel for a discounted rate using promo code: WWOWCON

Instructions for booking:

  1. Log on to The Carpenter Hotel website

  2. Click Book Now at bottom of page

  3. Search dates

  4. Click Advanced Search

  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.




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. 

Shifting Paradigms in the Wine World

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 two women leading this discussion run Austin organizations that embody such inclusivity. Peggy Hanley is the Executive Director of the Wine & Food Foundation of Texas, a non-profit which, to date, has donated $1.7 million back into Central Texas by cultivating the local wine and food community through educational and social events. Mandi Nelson is a sales manager for European Cellars and co-founder of the ATX Somm Society, an organization committed to education and mentorship for wine industry professionals.


The Path Less Traveled

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 Garagiste 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.


Life as a Wine-to-Five-Mom

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. Meghan Caiazzo, founder of Victory Wine Group; Soncy Chin, sales manager at Favorite Brands; and Vilma Mazaite, regional manager for Domaine Select Wine & Spirits, are all mothers who are also leaders in Texas wine distribution and supply. They 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.


A New Frontier in Texas Winemaking

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 assistant winemaker at Calais Winery, and just released a limited run of 100% Texas-grown Mourvèdre this year 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.


Letters to a Young Wine Prodigy

 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.


To Test or Not To Test

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 Somm, a Master of Wine, and a non-accredited wine professional: Marissa Ross, a comedy writer whose approachable wine blog WINE.all the time. gained a following that led to a web series and natural wine podcast. Now the wine editor for Bon Appétit, this self-proclaimed “leisure enthusiast” chronicles her zany grape adventures on Instagram and has become an incomparable influence in the world of wine. All three will explain the reason they chose their individual path and how they prefer to measure their success.


Get Up, Stand Up

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. Kelli Frizzell, the senior sales manager for Serendipity Wine Imports; Cara Bertone, regional manager for Folio Fine Wine Partners; and wine writer Melissa Sutherland, author of the upcoming book Drinking Italian Whites, will lead this discussion on self-advocacy in the wine world. 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.


March 3rd 2019

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