Wine (and Hope) for the People

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My one souvenir from a weekend at the Wonder Women of Wine gathering bears a single slogan, but multiple messages.

Wine for the People is a community-minded producer of Texas-grown natural wines, led by the unstoppable Rae Wilson. Promise you’ll try her Sangiovese, okay?

But beyond that, “Wine for the People” is an ethos for our industry. It invites anyone and everyone to savor the world’s beauty.  And shouldn’t we?  This mystical  beverage–“just fucking fermented  juice” in the words of the fearless Krista Scruggs of ZAFA Wines–has somehow remained  provenance of the elite for its entire history. Notably, it is a beverage that’s historically excluded women, since the time of the Greek symposia. This is true, despite the legend that women discovered the very first wine fermentations.

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That’s partly what made this weekend’s gathering so pivotal. Times are changing (slowly, but still…!) . During my decade in the industry, I’ve hoped for wine, and all the world’s beauty, to be more accessible to a wider range of people. Could that be happening?

The women I met this epic weekend made me think maybe (maybe!) so.  A Jersey girl who grew up in poverty and suffered haunting abuse is now wine director of a Michelin-starred restaurant. A mother who endured deep postpartum depression eventually recovered to head up a major food and wine organization. An expatriate of the USSR is now returning to her motherland to help the women of Georgia (including a 96 year old grandmother)  succeed as winemakers.


Throughout the weekend, stalwarts like Cathy Corison and Karen MacNeil gave examples of real change in the ways women access and enjoy wine. We’re doing it, y’all.

“Wine for the People”, indeed. This beverage (not so mystical after all,  as it turns out) has always held the power to unite us in uncommon ways. While it might be a luxury, beauty should never be out of reach.