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  • Writer's pictureNelly Ward

Women in Wine

Changing careers from finance to wine, I have found myself transitioning from one male-dominated industry to another. I have never really given it a lot of thought, but I guess I was quite lucky in my professional career to receive support from both men and women I have worked with. Looking back at my years in the financial world, I can say that the industry's dynamic is different - it's the survival of the fittest, and women have proven that they can be as successful as men when it comes to dealing with money. In fact, they are more organised and efficient and can also make better decisions by following not just logic but also their intuition.

In the wine world, the situation is much less advanced. For centuries, it has been a gentlemen's game, closely guarded from women's touch. Of course, there are pioneering women here as well, from Madam Clicquot to Sarah Morphew Stephen, the first female Master of Wine; to Jancis Robinson OBE, MW, whose name is synonymous with wine now; and researchers like Dr. Laura Catena, who dedicate their lives to the advancement of the industry. What makes this so unique is that women really like to work together in their mission. You can see it every day, but it becomes even more apparent at big events like the Women in Wine Expo, in which I was lucky to be involved for the second consecutive year.

When Senay Ozdemir, the woman behind this prestigious international event, asked me if I wanted to be part of the organising team again, I didn't have to think twice. This year's 4th edition of WIWE took place in the wonderful city of Porto, which welcomed us with great weather, wonderful people, and absolutely spectacular venues for the conference: The Taylor's Port's stunning rooftop gardens with amazing views of the sunset for the reception, the brand new riverfront chic hotel The Rebello for the second-day masterclasses, and the WOW Gallery for the conference and tasting on the last day. The event was packed with activities, entertainment, and information, uniting over a hundred women from 27 countries. You can read my full recap article on the WIWE website later this week.

Here, I'd like to share my personal experience from behind the scenes. It all starts with one wonderful woman, Senay Ozdemir, the driving force behind the WIWE. Her determination and passion for delivering a positive environment where women can learn, network, and have fun has once again delivered an unforgettable 3-day event. There is a lot of work involved to make it happen, and I couldn't be more proud to stand by her and deliver my support together with her loyal team. The fully packed program went beyond industry insights from different parts of the world, the discovery of unique grape varieties at the tasting masterclasses, and sustainability discussions. It delved deep into personal stories of women, who are not scared to share their struggles and celebrate their success.

Photo Credit: Emily West

All our efforts pay off when you see the smiles on the delegates' faces and the tears of happiness in the eyes of those who attended it not for the first time. These ladies don't just make business connections; they become friends. And it's felt by the newcomers as well, who are not left behind and are welcomed into the family with open arms. The unity, the sense of safety, and belonging to a supportive community are what make this event so special. The stories shared and the memories made will warm the hearts until we meet again next year.

Photo credit: Women in Wine Expo

The most curious thing that stood out for me during those 3 days was the results of the survey conducted by the Burgundy School of Business MBA students about female wine consumption. There were a lot of answers, but the one that struck me the most was the fact that when asked about their wine knowledge, women tend to be less confident in their level than men, even with the same or higher official qualifications. And I know this is a fact from personal experience - even after finishing my WSET Diploma and becoming a certified educator, I still feel like I don't know enough about the world of wine. Perhaps, though, us women should have more confidence in our own knowledge, expertise, and skills, as we are definitely not falling behind the men on that. If we have proved it in the finance world, we can definitely prove it in wine, especially with all the incredible support we give to each other. Cheers to the ladies in wine.


© All images on this page are subject to copyright. 2023-2024 Nelly Ward (Unless separate credit is stated)

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