Women In Wine Part I ft. Madeline Puckette & Whitney Adams

We already know that women can do it all.

They even can dominate the wine industry (a traditionally male dominated field). August has been a month full of celebrating women. There has been National Girlfriend’s Day, the day the 19th amendment was signed, my birthday, and Women’s Equality Day.

For the next two weeks I’m going to be brining you short little interviews for four amazing women I got to chat with about how they got into wine, why they did and what advice they have for someone trying to get into this wonderful industry.

The first two spotlights are on Madeline Puckette (who is basically a household name in the wine world) the author of Wine Folly and a sommelier and Whitney Adams, a sommelier, a YouTube guru (with 35k subscribers!!) and super freaking funny person.

The Author, Illustrator & Somm – Madeline Puckette 

How did you get started in wine?

Right before I lost my design job during the financial crisis of 2008 I started working weekends at a wine bar in Reno, NV.  When I was laid off I can remember my manager crying, saying that she thought I was meant to do better things.  It sounds great in retrospect but at the time it felt like falling off the edge of a cliff.  I was a talented designer but also pretty directionless.  I went to the wine bar afterward, and my boss, Rick, was kind enough to give me more hours.  I dug into wine. I loved the culture around wine and the people I met while working at the wine bar.  Suddenly, I found my direction! 

What gave you the idea to write Wine Folly? Is there a Wine Folly 2 in the making? 

The Wine Folly book was actually a side-step away from our initial goals for the project.  We were contacted by a publisher who saw my infographics and wanted to partner on a book.  This is a bit selfish, but the first image that popped into my head was my grandmother being so proud of her granddaughter and telling all her friends!  Fortunately, my partner, Justin, was way more level-headed about the opportunity and got us a literary agent who found us the right publisher for the concept (Penguin books).  The book is now published in over 20 countries; even Mongolia!  

What advice would you give to a woman wanting to break into the world of wine?

I would say that for anyone in wine and travel, it’s easy to get caught up in receiving free trips, free wine, being ingratiated and feeling important.  However, at the end of the day, it’s about the value that you offer your customers (whether they be guests in a restaurants, readers of a blog, etc).  The more responsible and cognoscente you are of their needs, the better off you’ll be.  For this reason, a good mix of humility will keep you on course.  At the end of the day, the wine business is still a relationship business.  

What’s your go-to wine at the moment?

I am non-monogamous when it comes to wine.  Right now, I’m digging Xinomavro from Greece, Sémillon from Australia, Bobal from Spain, Grenache from Roussillon (France), and Lambrusco di Sorbara from Italy… and a few more too!   

Buy Wine Folly here.

The YouTuber & Somm – Whitney Adams

Photo by Betsy Newman

How did you get started in wine?

I was an actress working in restaurants to support myself, and after moving to LA from NYC, my love of the wine really took hold. I was a hostess at CUT in Beverly Hills and was so enamored by our wine director at the time, Dana Farner. I saw a woman in a male dominated field, doing her job so well, and I was inspired. I put acting on hold and left CUT to manage an Italian restaurant that was in the process of getting their wine license and a year or so later I was taking my sommelier exam and traveling Italy to really begin my wine journey. When I came back, I started working for a new wine shop that had just opened, Domaine LA. I heard about it while in Italy and loved that it was owned by a woman, Jill Bernheimer. So within weeks of me coming back to LA, I tracked down her email address and asked for a job! I was her first real employee and I stayed for 6 years.

What gave you the idea to start your Youtube Channel, The Whitney A Channel?

I feel really comfortable in front of the camera and video content seemed like the next frontier after blogging. While writing was a great outlet for me for a while, TALKING is where I excel and have the most fun. Seemed like a natural progression for me and one I should’ve made years before I actually did. 

What advice would you give to a woman wanting to break into the world of wine?

Study a lot, taste a lot, work hard, and meet or reach out to as many people you admire in the wine world as possible. DIVE IN. Cultivate relationships. When I first started, I had a wine blog, did freelance wine writing, worked at two wine shops and a wine bar, and was a wine rep for a small Italian portfolio. Then I added a sommelier title to the mix and worked on the floor of a restaurant I loved and hosted a podcast about wine. The wine world is diverse nowadays with tons of possibilities. Try it all and see what sticks and what makes you most happy. Don’t be afraid to forge your own path either. I left all of my jobs behind to finally go out on my own and get in front of the camera, create content, and talk about wine the way I wanted to talk about it. 

What’s your go-to wine at the moment?

I’ve been drinking a lot of chilled reds this summer. One wine that I fell in love with, and have had on multiple occasions, is Martha Stoumen’s Post Flirtation. It’s bright and happy, lower in alcohol and so damn drinkable.

Check out Whitney’s YouTube Channel here.

 

Look for part deux next week where I’ll be interviewing 2 more amazing women in wine!

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