Three wine professionals tell their story
We asked a few questions to three women who work in the industry, among them producer Sara Vezza, an officially-recognised Donna di Vino (Woman in Wine) by the National Women in Wine Association, Roberta Lanero, a teacher and sommelier and Erika Mantovan, a journalist and sommelier.
As a producer what is the W factor you relate to the most–the impetus for the choices you make every day in your winery?
“At heart I’m a bit of a tomboy: maybe an unusual claim to make!
But I’m the estate’s only woman–my whole team is male.
I think that there are chords that only a woman’s sensibility can strike and I’m very much in touch with this part of myself.”
What prompted you to become a winemaker?
“Mostly the example set by my mother. Since I was a child I dreamt of being like her, a mother, a beautiful, charismatic career woman, and then my feeling for this land and this sensation of attachment and belonging that run so deep.”
Did being a woman in this male-dominated world ever scare you? Did you ever find yourself in difficult situations because of this?
“I wouldn’t say difficult situations, but generally I’m either loved or hated: it’s not easy dealing with a very determined woman!”
Why do you have a green philosophy? What values pushed you most to this choice?
“Mainly respect that comes from a profound attachment to the land: I feel a part of it–I’m deeply rooted in it.
I’m also the first person to go out in the vineyards and drink my own wine, so this respect is for myself too!”
Talking about respect for the environment, do you have other projects for the future?
“Together with other producers we are figuring out a way to upcycle local waste, for both social and environmental reasons; the idea is to transform paper, plastic and organic waste into something useful for our whole community. We’re working on it…”
How do you acquaint your customers with the experience of wine?
“About two and a half years ago we started Adopt a Row, a project to build loyalty and encourage our customers to keep coming back.
In just a few months the community of Adopters has grown and today we are a family of nearly 100 people.
I really enjoy talking about the more technical aspects of my work, tasting wine together with them and explaining in detail how various projects motivate us!”
On the 8th of March what wine will you propose as a toast for all women?
“Champagne all the way!
As a professional do you believe that there are wines that better express the terroir and appeal more to women?
“Every denomination wine expresses a terroir, especially if the label mentions a particular vineyard, estate or township etc.
As for which wine appeals more to women, I see two types of consumers. On one hand, we have “cultured” consumers who are indifferent to trends, adverts or the claims to higher quality made by famous brands; on the other hand, we have consumers who are drawn to the trendiest wine of the moment (for example Prosecco or “women and red wine”).”
How did you get into the world of wine?
What a question! Wine gives me a fantastic, incredible feeling; already in high school I was interested in the world of wine–I loved to sip a glass as an aperitif and already had “In vino veritas” as my motto in the school yearbook.
My passion really took hold a few years later. I was working in a hotel in Courmayeur. With all the questions tourists asked about the wine I was serving them, I felt compelled to increase my knowledge, and so ventured further into the field.
I was immediately struck by the vast amount there was to know and also how it was continually changing. I really related to that as a person. So I decided to enroll in a sommelier course. I travelled to France, to Champagne and Bordeaux and to Portugal, all of which were instrumental in my training. At the same time I started my own wine blog.
Marco Zamperini was the most important influence in my career; he’s a real communications genius. During an event organised by Carlo Vischi he told me to treasure my ideas and find the right people and occasions to put them into action!
He helped me understand the direction i wanted to take in this industry: I realised that I wanted to talk about wine and the feelings it can transmit.
Why did you choose to work in this industry?
I often think it was the industry that chose me; whenever I tried to leave the wine business, I ended up even more involved than before.
I graduated in economics, management and tourism in 2010 and wrote a paper on wine labelling and the multiplier effect that results from the use of the QR code.
After my degree I began working in a media centre where I learned a lot about communications in the wine industry.
I’m a bit of a free spirit so I decided to go freelance and work with wineries, tourist offices and so on; then in 2012 I began working with a wine importer/distributor–I still handle sales for them.
My training, experience and the opportunities I have every day let me grow and learn; the opportunity to exchange ideas with wine personalities, visit wineries or even just read a label are all a source of inspiration and knowledge.