WineGB presents a series of interviews with inspiring women in the industry to celebrate International Women's Day

To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, WineGB has teamed up with Women in Wine London to stage a series of inspirational Instagram Live interviews with female professionals who are shaping Great Britain’s wine industry today.

Running from International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March through to 15 March, the weeklong campaign will put a spotlight on the career paths of some of the industry's most exceptional women. As well as looking at those who are working in viticulture and winemaking, the series of interviews will also feature those who have founded successful wine businesses, those working in retail, hospitality and communications.

The range of careers and career paths these interviewees have taken will be discussed and advice given will, it is hoped, actively encourage anyone interested in joining the UK wine industry or the wider wine trade at large.

Each of the eight 30-minute-long discussion interviews will be hosted first, live, on WineGB’s Instagram channel at 6pm each evening (@winegb). For those who cannot view the sessions live, replays will be available on IGTV, and on WineGB’s YouTube Channel as well as on the WineGB and Women in Wine websites.

See below the timetable of Instagram Live events:

Monday 8 March

Lynsey Verrillo - Co-founder of Blackbook Winery and chair of WineGB’s Diversity & Inclusion Group

Lynsey has spent her professional career working across consultancy, travel and payments sectors, with a commercial focus: developing customer strategies, business development and proposition development within leading UK & global brands. Her career in wine started when her partner Sergio began constructing plans for an urban winery near their home in London. Lynsey became unexpectedly and quickly immersed in the wine business, fortuitously coinciding with a maternity leave so they could truly get the brand off the ground together. Lynsey leads most of the Blackbook activities outside the winery including marketing, planning and finances, she has actively embraced the family business, and spends much of harvest time in the winery, helping to shovel grapes, punch down a tank of pinot or rinse out a barrel. She is a member of the WineGB South East committee, and is the chair of WineGB’s Diversity & Inclusion working group.

Tuesday 9 March

Sophia Longhi - Wine Communicator

Sophia Longhi is a wine communicator, blogger and wine tastings host. Before fully immersing herself in wine, Sophia was running a social media marketing business, where she created content and managed the social platforms for a number of London restaurants and bars. When one of her clients launched a new wine list, Sophia attended a team tasting hosted by its curator, Joe Wadsack. She’d never seen wine be presented in such an enthusiastic and energetic way before and she was hooked - the next day she signed up for the WSET Level 1 course.

As a writer of restaurant reviews for several online publications, Sophia decided in 2018 it was time to set up her own blog, Skin and Pulp, initially as a way to journal her WSET studies. The blog enabled her to dive deeper into the world of wine, as she began to write up trade tastings, vineyard visits and wine reviews. She was also able to interview accomplished people in the wine industry (a highlight was Sarah Jane Evans MW), which inspired Sophia to go further.

During her WSET Level 3 studies, Sophia began working as a wine advisor and later as Brand Co-Ordinator at an independent wine bar, Grays & Feather. She loved interacting with customers and teaching them about the wine list, and soon she was hosting her own regular wine tastings there, as well as at other venues around London. When COVID struck, Sophia restructured her work in wine for the online world, and she is now designing direct-to-consumer wine workshops, as well as working with PR companies on wine brand campaigns, writing articles and hosting virtual wine tastings. Sophia is particularly passionate about championing women in wine and hosts a weekly Instagram Live called #WednesdayWineWomen.

Wednesday 10 March

Laura Rhys MS - Master Sommelier and Global Ambassador, Gusbourne

Laura’s career in wine started as a Sommelier in 2004. The early years were spent alongside the industry’s finest, including World Sommelier Champion Gérard Basset MS, MW. In 2009 Laura won the prestigious “UK Sommelier of the Year" title and in 2010 achieved Master Sommelier status from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Laura’s time as a Sommelier saw her visit many of the world’s vineyards and head up wine teams for restaurants, including Gerard Basset’s Hotel TerraVina and Michelin-starred, award winning La Trompette.

Inspired by the passion of the English winemakers she met and excited by the quality of the wines she tasted, Laura continued her career at the pinnacle of the rapidly evolving English wine industry.

Laura joined Gusbourne in 2015, as Global Ambassador, where her role encompasses ambassadorial and development duties both in UK and internationally. She also works closely with winemaker Charlie Holland and the winemaking and vineyard teams. Based in London, Laura judges for Sommelier competitions as well as national and international wine competitions. She is an active member of the Court of Master Sommeliers Europe and a regular host of tastings, wine dinners and seminars.

Thursday 11 March

Sam Linter - MD and Head Winemaker, Bolney Wine Estate

The Bolney Wine Estate is a third-generation family business in Sussex and the home of one of England’s oldest and most beautiful vineyards. The vines were planted by Sam Linter's parents, Rodney & Janet Pratt in 1972. They started with just three acres to begin what was then the sixth commercial vineyard in England. Today, the winery consists of 160,000 vines planted over 104 acres.

Sam took the reins as Managing Director and Head Winemaker in the 1990's, having inherited her parents' love and passion for making luxury English wine. Under her leadership, the estate creates award-winning still and sparkling wines; winning UK Wine Producer of the Year in 2012, Winery of the Year in 2017 and Family Business of the Year in 2020 and for herself, Sam is a Director of WineGB. Sam’s beguiling commitment has also passed down to her daughter, who is an active member of the team.
The pioneering spirit of Sam Linter has led the estate to invest heavily in specialist machinery including a 60 hectolitre press, a disgorging line and in 2018 eight new wine tanks. In 2019, the estate merged with another vineyard, doubling its acreage. All this investment has allowed the winery to triple its production, providing the capacity to make 500,000 bottles. Bolney also offers contracted wine making services.

At the winery, there has been significant investment to make it a visitor destination. There is now a restaurant, offering stunning views over the vines and a Vineyard Shop selling the best of local produce. In 2020, when the pandemic struck, Sam made the decision to switch investment expenditure onto the website, which now offers an efficient & delightful virtual retail experience including very popular, virtual wine tastings.

Friday 12 March

Tamara Roberts - CEO, Ridgeview Wine Estate

Tamara was appointed CEO of her 25-year-old family English sparkling wine business, Ridgeview in 2014. Tamara’s career began with obtaining a Degree in Law and Accountancy then working in the London financial services industry. In 2004 Tamara took the decision to join Ridgeview in order to grow the business, originally as General Manager and then promoted to CEO within 10 years. Tamara is responsible for the day to day running of the business, ensuring all areas are working together to achieve the best results and representing Ridgeview to stakeholders and the outside world. Tamara has overseen the growth of production in that time from 25,000 bottles per annum to 400,000 bottles with plans to increase production incrementally over the next 5 years. Tamara is also a director of Wine GB the national trade body and the Wine & Spirits trade association. In 2020 she became the first English wine professional to become President of the prestigious International Wine and Spirit Competition.

Tamara is actively involved in the local business community. As a testament to Tamara’s experience, professionalism and reputation she was recently awarded ‘Sussex Business Person of the Year’ in the 2018 Sussex Business Awards. Tamara is passionate about creating Ridgeview as a wonderful ethical place to work with sustainability at its heart and respect and of client, customer and community relationships. With ambitious growth plans, Tamara’s vision for Ridgeview is to focus on brand awareness, exciting opportunities in tourism and export as well as nurturing and growing the current Ridgeview portfolio of fantastic UK clients.

Saturday 13 March
Alex Valsecchi - Vineyard Manager, Albury Organic Vineyard

Alessandra Valsecchi was born on 'quel ramo del lago di Como che volge a mezzogiorno...' (from the best seller of Alessandro Manzoni 'I Promessi Sposi’), which means 'that branch of lake Como that sees the Midday Sun…’ - or in other words, in the perfect place for grape growing!

When Alessandra finalised her doctorate in Fruit Culture & Viticulture at the University of Milan, back in 1996. she moved to the UK and worked at Hilliers Nurseries in Hampshire, a world renown tree nursery, where she embraced techniques in propagating and growing ornamental trees. Alessandra then moved to Surrey and was employed by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) at Wisley Garden, where she was responsible for the vines collection, the model fruit gardens and the nursery area, as well as managing the team and running the operation in the orchard. Alex, as she’s widely known within the UK wine industry, was then greatly involved with not only shows but also students and members of the public education. During her time at the RHS, Alex took on the challenge of planting a small demonstration vineyard, after travelling to NZ on several occasions (a combination of bursary trips and sabbaticals) making her mission to successfully grow quality grapes in the UK.

After 10 years at the RHS Alessandra set up her own business, La Vite - consulting in Fruit Culture and Viticulture, and as a self employed contractor took on the management of Albury Vineyard back in 2009…and the rest is history.

Sunday 14 March

Rebecca Gibb MW - Master of Wine and Wine Journalist

Rebecca Gibb MW is an award-winning wine journalist, editor and author of The Wines of New Zealand. Securing her first editorial role at UK wine trade magazine Harpers after being named UK Young Wine Writer of the Year in 2006, she has since edited several print and online publications. Rebecca contributes to prestigious titles including Decanter, World of Fine Wine, LUX and Wine Business International, in addition to running a consultancy The Drinks Project, which provides business development, brand representation and marketing assistance to wineries. She also launched a wine and spirit puzzles business, Bamboozled, in October 2018.
In 2015, Rebecca became a Master of Wine. In a record class of 24 graduates, she was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award and the Bollinger Medal in recognition of outstanding tasting ability. Having lived in New Zealand for six years (2010-2016), Rebecca has since returned to her native north-east roots in the UK.

 

Monday 15 March

Rebecca Palmer - Wine Buyer, Corney & Barrow

 

 

And your interviewers:

Regine Lee MW - Head Of Operations at Liberty Wines and Co-founder of Women In Wine LDN

Previously a management consultant, Regine joined the wine trade in 2010 and has a wide range of industry experience. She worked at WSET for several years to develop their Asia-Pacific markets, and is currently the Head of Operations at Liberty Wines. She has also had roles focussing on trade marketing, education and sales.

She also has had winemaking experience at Jordan Wine Estate in Stellenbosch through the Premium Independent Wineries of South Africa’s inaugural Women in Wine vintage programme in 2014. Regine is a co-founder of Women in Wine London, a trade networking group which organises events to develop women professionally and provide a forum for discussing key developments in the industry.

In 2018, Regine became a Master of Wine. In 2020, she has been recognised as an IWSC/WSET’s Future 50 Award Winner and a nominee for WSET’s Outstanding Alumni Award.

 

Hannah Van Susteren  - Head of Marketing at Bancroft Wines and Co-founder of Women in Wine LDN

Originally from Vermont, Hannah moved to the UK in 2008 and pursued her Master's Degree with Sotheby's Institute of Art before entering the wine trade in 2011. She spent eight years with Atlas Fine Wines - their first recruit -  where she ran Marketing, Public Relations and Events. In 2019, she joined UK importer Bancroft Wines as Head of Marketing. Hannah is also one of the three on the leadership team of Women in Wine LDN, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing education and networking opportunities to women in the industry which now has over 500 members. She received her WSET Diploma in 2015.

 

Julia Trustram Eve - Head of Marketing, WineGB

Julia's working life has been devoted to wine, working first for an importer/distributor of South African wines, moving in to wine education, a wine tour company and independent retailer. For the last 30 years, it has been the GB wine industry that has occupied her time, starting work at Chiltern Valley winery and brewery based near Henley, then joining English Wine Producers, the then newly-formed marketing group in 1993, running the operation and leading the marketing and promotion of the group's vineyards up until its merger with UK Vineyards Association to form Wines of Great Britain in 2017. Julia now heads up the marketing of WineGB both for its members and promoting to the outside world through events, campaigns, PR and communications.

Julia has talked extensively and given tastings over the years; has judged in IWC and IWSC and completed WSET exams up to Diploma, as well as the MW study course. Wine and tourism are particular passions.

 

Joana Albogas - WineGB digital media officer

Joana plays a major role in driving online awareness to the British wine industry. She has spent the last 1,5 years curating and managing content, and is currently most passionate about the work she is doing to communicate the innovation and premium quality driving Great British wines. Through her commitment to this role, she has significantly grown WineGB’s online audience across different channels and developed a really engaged community.

With a degree in Economics and marketing experience within world renown Fashion & Lifestyle brands, Joana has developed a unique perspective when it comes to finding the right balance between authenticity and prestige, while staying true to a brand's identity, always keeping informed of consumer insights and data. Influenced by her multicultural background and ever increasing enthusiasm for Wine, she aspires to increasingly run meaningful campaigns as well as to continue to communicate in such way that what can be overwhelmingly complex about wine will still feel tangible to anyone interested in knowing more.