Desiree Harrison-Brown, Meaghan Odum, and Jessica Yanez are using their unique voices to be the change we want to see in wine.
Written by Sedale McCall
“I wanted to be a particular person that I saw in a restaurant. Dapper, Italian-cut suit, pointed-toe shoes, wonderful black serviette draped over his forearm, bottle held high. I told myself, ‘I can be him, I have to be him, I will be him.’”
For many, this is the wine business. You work in restaurants, work in wineries, and take really hard exams so you can identify grand cru villages in Chablis or call a 2018 Burgundy in a blind tasting. But there are so many ways to be a part of the industry, from writers to social media marketers, podcast hosts, apparel, consulting, and more.
These three amazing women, from different parts of the business, discuss how they work in wine without waiting tables or crushing grapes.
The Value of Being Yourself
Authenticity is a virtue for these women and drives their business success.
“When I first started, I wasn’t positioning myself as an expert”, said Desiree Harrison-Brown, a social media influencer, wine educator, and owner of The Wino Shop.
“I was just sharing my journey, hoping to inspire others to try a new bottle here and there. It’s grown so much, I’m so proud of the community I’ve built”
Meaghan Odum, a content creator at @TrillWineWife, highlighted how her brand allows her to be herself. “I’m the lemon zest, I’m not the peaches and cream,” she said. “There’s a lot of people that want to dip their toes in it, but they’re scared of what people would think about how they’re described, I don’t care what people think of me, I’d rather you meet me first.”
For all of these women, being themselves allows their followers to express themselves.
Be The Change You Want to See
These women also set their goals to change the culture of the wine industry. Each has their own version of how they hope their non-traditional paths can give others the opportunity to join, be heard, and shine.
“I never saw or heard anything that was reflective of voices across communities of color and I wanted my podcast to reflect that,” says Jessica Yanez, podcaster at the Wine and Chisme Podcast, who created her page as a way to shine a light on her community and others like here. “I wanted to be the place to share stories and let people know their voice is valued.”
Meg has had an amazing year, connecting with some of wine’s shining stars. And she is hoping to use her newfound success to open doors for others who have been unable to find access in wine.
“It should be marketed more for us [people interested in wine] to know about events in the industry, those doors should be opened,” she said. “I want to be a driving force for other people to be able to excel and know about things in the industry, without putting too much pressure on themselves.”
Plans for the Future
These creators have bright futures ahead of them and each of them will open doors for others who want to enter the industry in their own way.
Desiree hopes to continue to build The Wino Shop by creating a team, while she continues to find partnerships as a social media influencer.
“It’s so cool to see minority-owned brands popping up, it would be really cool to help them build their community. Running a small business is hard and it can be hard to focus on social media and education. So that would be something for me in the future.”
Jessica will continue to focus on the BIPOC community in wine and building out her Hispanic-owned winery directory, the first of its kind. “I would like to travel and help educate other Latinos and communities of color to make wine more accessible. I hope people use the directory to find wineries and hear these stories on the podcast.”
Meg is very focused on giving her wine followers more access to the industry and plans to continue building her page and using her platform to help others around her. “I think lots of people like my spirit. I don’t give the typical tasting notes and wine snobbery,” she said. “I want people to know that you can be at home with your kids and drinking wine and further yourself in wine.”
These women are sharing their stories, creating pathways to redefine wine culture, and helping others find their own way into wine. You can follow Desiree at @winonoire on Instagram and visit her apparel shop at https://thewinoshop.com/. Jessica continues to tell her stories on the Wine and Chisme podcast which you can find on all podcast platforms; her website is available at www.thewineandchismepodcast.com and she is @thewineandchisme on Instagram. Meg is @TrillWineWife on Instagram and you can see what she’s up to at https://trillwine.com/