WIW Hit Its Stride

The Garden State Women in Wine Caucus Has Hit Its Stride

Statistics about women in the U.S. wine industry are murky. Do an online search and you won’t find much, and what you will find is often contradictory or focuses on California. But you don’t need a statistical study to know that there are far fewer women in the wine industry than men, particularly in leadership positions: owners, vineyard managers, and winemakers.

In New Jersey, women are taking matters into their own hands to support each other and encourage colleagues to learn new skills to advance their careers in the state’s wineries.

The Garden State Wine Growers Association’s Women in Wine Caucus was launched three years ago. Victoria Reader, then assistant winemaker and vineyard manager at a New Jersey winery, spearheaded the effort, and now women have an organization to network with others in the industry, learn about opportunities in wine, hone skills, and much more.

Training Women for All Winery Jobs

Women are often overlooked for training for more labor-intensive work that needs to be done in the vineyard or the winery. So, Women in Wine offers free training for women in the industry by women in the industry thanks to a USDA specialty crop block grant.

Of course, a group born during the pandemic meant that meeting in person wasn’t easy to do, so the inaugural training session didn’t happen until 2022. The first training the group offered focused on heavy machinery—forklifts and tractors. Held at Cream Ridge Winery, women from various wineries received hands-on training on the two machines, walking away with skills they could take back to use in their jobs. More recently, Madeline Cozine, vineyard manager at Working Dog Winery, led a dormant pruning workshop.

The group has also done comparative tastings, such as tasting NJ Cabernet Franc alongside wines made from the same grape in Virginia, New York’s Finger Lakes region, and France. And, Women in Wine just bottled its first exclusive wine, a white that commingled 2022 fermented juice from Amalthea, Cream Ridge, Blue Cork Winery, and Auburn Road Vineyards. It’s now resting in a bottle awaiting release.

The group’s next endeavor will be its biggest one yet.

Meet and Greet and Women in Wine Panel at Alice Paul Institute

On May 21, our Women in Wine Caucus will host an event starting at 11AM at the Alice Paul Institute in Mount Laurel. Paul, a suffragist, dedicated her life to fighting for equal rights for women.

“The event will be held in an incredible space that’s devoted to a woman who made history, and will host women who are currently making history,” says Staci Dempsey, Chair of the Women in Wine Committee. “We’re bringing together passionate industry women who are excited to share their experiences. The inclusive day is for any woman who is curious about how to start in the wine industry, women who are currently studying for a career in the industry, and women already in the industry who want to network with other like-minded professionals.”

The day will include a Meet and Greet and a panel discussion geared toward encouraging and educating women in the industry as well as those who are curious about what opportunities there are in New Jersey wine. Local wine journalist Robin Shreeves will moderate an impressive group of panelists:

  • Leigh Ann Wilson: Winemaking and Business Development at Cedar Rose Vineyards
  • Jules Donnini: Owner and Winemaker at Auburn Road Vineyards & Winery
  • Madeline Cozine: Vineyard Manager at Working Dog Winery

Complimentary light bites and tastings of New Jersey wine are both in the works. Keep an eye out on the GSWGA Women in Wine page, the group’s Instagram page, and the Garden State Wine Growers weekly newsletter for more details as they become available.

© 2024 Garden State Wine Growers Association Supported in part by a grant from the NJ Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism
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