5 minutes reading time (984 words)

Interview with Michelle Mandro, Founder and President of Wine Country LLC


While a traditionally a male-dominated field, the wine industry has seen an increase in the representation and influence of women in recent years. Michelle Mandro, founder and president of Wine Country Women, LLC, is aiding in the deconstruction of the wine industry's "Old Boys Club" stigma. She is breaking the (wine) glass ceiling as a women leader and executive in the industry.

Wine Country Women is a national organization which is a woman-owned luxury lifestyle and entertainment brand that showcases the extraordinary women in wine country through lifestyle books, broadcast media, signature events, and more. Mandro is reshaping the wine industry by making wine country accessible and highlighting the women working in the field. She promotes diversity and provides female networking and business opportunities through her organization. She began her career in wine as the executive director of the American Institute of Wine & Food and has over 15 years of experience in the industry.

In an interview with Garden State Woman, Mandro expanded on the growth of women in the predominantly male-dominated field, the pivotal role Woman in Wine Country has in redefining the wine industry, and she even shared some delicious wine pairings for various dishes to indulge in this holiday season.

Q: The wine industry has traditionally been a male-dominated field. How has the presence of women in the wine industry grown?

A: Wine Country Women has been celebrating the remarkable journey of women in the wine industry since 2017 which has helped draw attention to career opportunities. My work has showcased the stories of trailblazing women who have broken barriers, challenged stereotypes and made their mark on the wine world. There's been a significant increase in the representation of women as winemakers and winery owners. Their presence grows steadily and reflects a fundamental shift towards gender equality in the wine industry.

Q: How is Wine Country LLC breaking through stigma and empowering women to step into executive positions?

A: Wine Country Women is playing a vital role in breaking down gender-related stigmas and empowering women in the wine industry through our lifestyle books, podcast, events, and scholarship program. We are breaking through stigma and empowering women in several wayss.

  1. Visibility: By sharing the stories of successful women in the wine world, Wine Country Women heightens the awareness of their contributions, challenging the traditional image of the industry as male-dominated.
  2. Role Models: The stories provide inspiring role models for women who may want to pursue careers in wine, demonstrating that they can achieve success in various roles within the industry.
  3. Networking and Support: We organize events and gatherings, fostering a sense of community and support among women working in wine. This can be critical for breaking through barriers and sharing experiences.
  4. Changing Perceptions: We are changing the perception of women's roles in wine by highlighting their expertise, leadership, and entrepreneurship, and thereby challenging stereotypes and stigma.
  5. Empowerment: By celebrating the achievements of women in the wine industry, Wine Country Women encourages and empowers them to take leadership roles, start their own ventures, and contribute to the wine world in a meaningful way.

Q: Can the up-and-coming female presence in the wine industry be applied to other industries?

A: The female presence in the wine industry has evolved over the years, and while there have been significant advancements, it still has some unique challenges when compared to women in other industries. Here's a few comparisons:

  • Male Dominance: Like many industries, the wine industry has historically been male-dominated, but this is gradually changing with more women in leadership and decision-making roles.
  • Progress: Women have made notable strides in the wine world. There is an increasing number of female vintners, winemakers, and sommeliers.
  • Entrepreneurship: Women are increasingly starting their own wineries and wine-related businesses, contributing to the industry's diversity and innovation.
  • Supportive Communities: Wine Country Women was on the forefront of placing a spotlight on women and aims to empower and connect them. Other supportive communities and initiatives have followed suit.

Compared to some other industries, such as technology and finance, the wine industry has a unique cultural and historical context. While progress is being made, it's important to acknowledge that challenges related to gender diversity exist in various fields, and each industry has its own dynamics and obstacles.

Q: What wine pairings do you suggest for the holiday season?

A: During the holiday season, there are many opportunities for creative and unique wine pairings that can enhance your meals and celebrations. Sparkling wine, champagne, and rosés are my go-to favorites since they pair with almost anything. Here are some additional ideas:

  • Roast Turkey: For the traditional holiday turkey, a crisp Chardonnay or a fruity Pinot Noir can be excellent choices. You can also experiment with a sparkling wine like Champagne or Prosecco for a touch of elegance.
  • Ham: The salty and sweet flavors of ham pair well with a slightly off-dry Riesling or a fruity Zinfandel. The acidity in these wines can balance the richness of the meat.
  • Prime Rib: A robust red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon complements the bold flavors of prime rib. This wine has firm tannins which stand up to the meat.
  • Seafood: If you prefer a seafood dish, consider a crisp and dry Sauvignon Blanc with dishes like shrimp cocktail or oysters. For richer seafood options like salmon, a Pinot Noir can be a great choice.
  • Desserts: Pairing wine with desserts can be delightful. For fruit-based desserts, a late-harvest Riesling or Chardonnay can be fabulous choices. For chocolate desserts, a Port wine or a rich red Zinfandel can work very well.

Personal taste plays a significant role in wine pairings, so experiment and find what works best for your palate and the dishes you're serving during the holiday season or consider providing a few wine options for your family and friends to try!

For more, visit winecountrywomen.com.

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