How did you get started in the wine industry?
Megan: After graduating with a degree I didn’t want to pursue, I was looking for a field that had three things. Physicality; I did not want to just be sitting at a desk all day. Travel; it is encouraged for those starting out in the industry to do harvests across the globe to learn about different styles. Creating; I wanted to be able to look at something that I helped to create. The wine industry seemed to have all this and more. So I began taking wine and viticulture classes at Napa Valley College. Three months later I found an internship and spent the first half scouting vineyards, making compost tea, and coordinating with vineyard owners. During the second half of the internship I worked in the cellar, which I loved, and from there I knew I wanted to work in the cellar full time. I continued to work harvests as a cellar intern, and sometimes a lab intern, while simultaneously taking classes until I received my A.A. in Winemaking 2021. Shortly after, I started working at Anaba as a full-time cellar hand.
Paula: I worked at various tasting rooms in college, which I really enjoyed, and it opened my eyes to the various careers available in the wine industry. Once graduating with a Bachelor’s in Marketing, I got a job in marketing and graphic design for a large winery in Napa. I worked there for three years and it was really interesting to see the sales side of the wine industry as well as how a large winery operates. As much as I liked my job on the marketing side and selling wine, I realized I wanted to actually be making it. So, I enrolled in Santa Rosa Junior College’s Enology program and started taking courses in Chemistry, Enology, Viticulture, etc., eventually earning my A.A. in Enology. In 2020, I quit my graphic design job and found a harvest internship at Gloria Ferrer Winery. I have been in love with the production side ever since!
Where and what did you study in school?
Megan: I received a B.S. in Animal Science from Cal Poly in SLO then also got my A.A in Winemaking from Napa Valley College.
Paula: I received a B.S. in Marketing from Sonoma State and later on got my A.A. in Enology from Santa Rosa Junior College.
What has been the most rewarding part of working in the cellar, or working generally in the wine industry?
Megan: It is rewarding to be happy to go to work each day to help move a cool product to the finish line. It’s pretty cool to hold a bottle of wine that I helped to create and to think back on all the good times and challenges that made that year memorable.
Paula: I think it is really rewarding to be able to see a product from start to finish. Seeing the entire process from the grapes being grown outside, bottling the wine, and being sold to happy customers is really cool to see. I have a lot of pride in the wine we make, and it is great to be able to make a product I truly enjoy.
What is your favorite Anaba wine? What is your favorite wine region?
Megan: We have so many good wines but I most recently really enjoyed the 2019 Turbine Red. And my favorite wine region… probably all of the places I have worked because it gives me a personal connection. So I love Napa Valley, Sonoma, and the Willamette Valley. I’ve come to realize I enjoy many wines from Italy and Spain so I hope I visit there one day.
Paula: My favorite Anaba wine is the Soberanes Pinot Noir. It is really hard to pick a favorite wine region. I am drawn to Pinot Noirs from Santa Lucia Highlands and the Russian River and I am a sucker for a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Although, there are so many more wine regions I am sure are amazing that I am not familiar with (yet).
What has your experience been like working in the cellar or the wine industry as a whole with it being male-dominated?
Megan: I will be honest… It has sometimes been difficult but it is also something that pushes me to be a better worker. Sometimes I feel like I need to push myself to be stronger or work harder than the men might. I have experienced people who think I cannot do something like carrying a 5-gallon bucket full of wine or pushing a bin full of stems around, which is fine until I see that I am being discounted from helping in some tasks. I have also been told of a few wineries that specifically do not hire women in the cellar. To get away from this toxicity, when applying to Anaba I specifically asked how many women they hire for harvests and was also happy to know that we have a female head winemaker. This has definitely helped me find a place where I feel more equal.
Paula: I try to align myself with companies that employ more women in leadership, like Anaba. This has helped me work alongside people that truly see women as their equals in the workplace. I have still worked with men that try to give me the ‘easier’ task or think I cannot do some of the physical aspects of this job. It makes me want to push myself and work harder than the men in the room. Sometimes it is difficult because working in production is a really physical job so I think certain men in the industry will view females as weaker if they can’t do some of the heavy lifting. But if I do need to lift something heavy, I like to lean on my fellow women in the cellar vs. asking a man for help.
Favorite/Least favorite task you have to do in the cellar?
Megan: There are so many things I like about working in the cellar… But I would say my favorite is barrel work– I love topping, racking, tasting, and barrel downs. My least favorite thing is probably cleaning drains.
Paula: I love working in the lab and running various tests on the wine. I also enjoy any wine movement work: barrel downs, rackings, and topping. During harvest, I like blasting some music and doing punch-downs. My least favorite task is probably cleaning drains. It needs to get done but it definitely isn’t the most fun job.
What are your goals in the wine industry, and where do you ultimately see yourself?
Megan: I am really enjoying working in the cellar right now and I have a lot to learn. I do think I would find being a winemaker really interesting, but could also be interested in being an enologist or cellar master. Working with a small team at Anaba allows me to see a lot of the processes that go into making wine, but there is so much more that goes into production decisions that I would like to see.
Paula: My goal is to work as a Winemaker or an Enologist for a very small winery where I can wear many hats. I really love all aspects of the wine industry and since I have worked on the production, hospitality, and sales side, I would enjoy being able to use my various skill sets.
Is there anything that has surprised you while working in the wine industry?
Megan: The vast array of jobs and types of ways people get involved in wine. From sales to sommelier to vineyard management to processing fruit. Also, it is great to see how passionate people are about wine. It is very inspiring and helps to motivate you when so many around you are striving to create a phenomenal wine.
Paula: I was (pleasantly) surprised that you will always be learning. You can be very knowledgeable about a certain varietal or maybe a certain region but there are so many different wine regions, styles, and varietals, that it is impossible to know everything. There are also always new techniques and technology being invented that even if you think you are a ‘master’ in your field, there will be a new method or style around the corner.