Home ZINE Issue no 4 aka The Elephants in The Winery - Fall/Winter 2020 Celebrating Nearly a Decade of Advancing Women in the San Diego Wine Industry

Celebrating Nearly a Decade of Advancing Women in the San Diego Wine Industry

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Celebrating Nearly a Decade of Advancing Women in the San Diego Wine Industry

Nearly ten years ago, Courtney Quinn got a call from a former wine instructor to check out a new wine group in town called the Women’s Wine Alliance. The next day, she was sitting in the organization’s first meeting, full of wine professionals.

At the time, Courtney was fairly new to the wine industry. Just two years prior, she left her job in fundraising, sold her home and traveled to Napa Valley for a wine immersion program. When the program ended, she moved to Mendoza, Argentina where she found her passion: creating a wine import/distribution company for small, family-owned wines. “I went all in about learning about wine,” said Courtney Quinn. Little did Courtney know, but that first meeting at the Women’s Wine Alliance wouldn’t be her last. In fact, today, she’s the current president of the group.

“Some of the people who were in that very first meeting are still involved with the organization today. But, what I think inspires me the most about this group is we really have a ripple effect,” said Quinn. “I have seen so many of our members, where they have been similar to my story of being at this beginning level, then through this group receiving different mentorship … and then growing themselves to now be in a role of leadership where they’re continuously passing it down as well. That to me is what really makes our group continuously inspiring to other people,” added Quinn.

Today, the Women’s Wine Alliance is made up of 60 members who, as Courtney explains, “represent every aspect that would touch a bottle of wine.” From winemakers to writers, retired or new to the industry, the alliance is a volunteer, non-profit organization for women, within the San Diego wine industry or those seeking careers in the industry. The alliance provides a space for women in the wine industry to learn, gather and grow.

“They have such a passion for wine and the 20-year-olds know they can learn so much from the older generation and even the older generation knows they’re learning so much from the new one. So, it’s this fascinating dynamic that I wish, if we weren’t in these times of COVID, you could see and experience it for yourself,” said Quinn. 

While the pandemic has changed the way we gather, the strong network of these women hasn’t– adding a new level of importance to relationships and community. “Some of our members, their lives have been completely turned upside down. They’ve either lost their jobs, lost every contract they have. It has been quite frankly one of the most challenging times we’ve faced as an industry. Even in 2008, it was an impactful time but still less of an impact and this long of an impact,” said Quinn.

“We reached out to our members and said we’re here for you, whatever conversation you want to have, any one of our board members will be on a call with you as soon as you want a meeting,” added Quinn.

This is just one of the many examples of the community built in the Women’s Wine Alliance, focused on as Quinn calls it, the “collective group together.” Along with relationships, the group is striving to advance the education of women in the wine industry. In the last four years, the Women’s Wine Alliance has provided 17 scholarships to members to help them take classes and grow in their careers. Just recently, the organization created a diversity pledge to advance diversity and inclusion in their network of women.

If you’re interested in becoming a member, you can learn more on the Women’s Wine Alliance website. Expect to be greeted by one of the board members to learn more about your goals in the wine industry. If you’re not in the wine industry, you can follow the Women’s Wine Alliance on Instagram at @womenswinealliance to stay up-to-date on the San Diego wine industry.