America’s Top Wine Professionals: Gina, Michaela and Claudia

GinaMichaelaClaudiayCan a man do an equally good job of marketing wine to women as a woman could do?

Is a woman better prepared to market to women wine buyers than men?

Is there any reason to believe that women have better palates than men?

Is there any advantage women have over men when it comes to making wine?

These are just some of the questions I’m tempted to ask a panel of highly accomplished wine professionals at the upcoming Women for Winesense Annual “Women In Wine” Panel Discussion on September 12 at the Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma. I’ve been asked to moderate this year’s event at which three of America’s most accomplished, trailblazing and intriguing people will hold forth on a number of issues. I’m just not sure these are the right questions to pose to the impressive panelists.

This years panel includes:
Gina Gallo—Winemaker for EJ Gallo’s Premium Wines
Michaela Rodeno—Owner of Villa Ragazzi and former CEO at St. Supery and VP Marketing at Domaine Chandon
Claudia Schubert—President of Diageo Chateau & Estate.

The thing is, while all these panelists are women and it’s tempting to pose questions that explore the issue of being and become a powerful woman in the wine business, doing so seems like a lost opportunity. Were it three male panelists, would I ask them to explore the meaning of being and become and powerful man in the wine business? No. I wouldn’t. On the other hand, there is no question that the number of women in not just executive positions but executive positions at very large and powerful wine companies is few. You have to ask why? But do I have to ask “Why”? I still haven’t decided.

Still, and importantly, Women For Winesense may be the organization best positioned to help advance women in this industry. Their chapters across the country are not merely filled with women wine lovers (and a few men), but often their membership consists of some of the most accomplished women in the wine industry, making support of, membership in, and active participant in the activities of Women For Winesense among the best career moves a woman striving to move up in the industry could make.

Four years ago, Time Magazine ran a story entitled “Women Will Rule Business”. In it they noted the following:

“The workplace-research group Catalyst studied 353 Fortune 500 companies and found that those with the most women in senior management had a higher return on equities — by more than a third…Are the women themselves making the difference? Or are these smart firms that make smart moves, like promoting women? There is growing evidence that in today’s marketplace the female management style iWWSs not only distinctly different but also essential. Studies from Cambridge University and the University of Pittsburgh suggest that women manage more cautiously than men do. They focus on the long-term. Men thrive on risk, especially when surrounded by other men.”

See, now this is where I see fertile ground for the upcoming Women For Winesense annual Panel Discussion. Anyone paying attention has noticed that men and women do manage differently. What do Ms. Gallo, Ms. Rodeno and Ms. Schubert think about this? Did and do they see the same differences as Time Magazine? We may find out.
I can’t recommend highly enough that you attend this upcoming event on September 12. It will be a fairly intimate event. No more than 100 people will be sold tickets. The space at the historic Buena Visa Winery is just large enough for that number. This means the attendees should have every opportunity to meet and speak with these three accomplished wine professionals as well as meet others. If nothing else, this is probably one of the best educational and networking events of the year in the Northern California wine industry.

Wanna go? Only a few places left. $95 per person. Yes, there will be wine. Additionally, there will be a great silent auction, the proceeds of which go to help fund the Women for Winesense annual scholarship program.

Tell me what you think I should ask as moderator. Better yet, come to the event and ask the questions yourself.


3 Responses

  1. Bob Henry - September 1, 2013


    As English clergyman and poet John Dunne observed:

    “No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main . . .”

    Gina, Michaela and Claudia have the benefit of internal marketing departments and outside professional services firms (ad agencies, market research firms, PR firms0 supporting them.

    (Aside: Gina’s sister Stephanie Gallo was V P of Marketing at E. & J. Gallo. An MBA grad of Northwestern University. Link:

    And those marketing department and professional services firm individuals comprise men and women who bring their individual and collective knowledge and experience and wisdom to into every marketing project.

    If you subscribe to the philosophy that “No one has a monopoly on good ideas — they are everywhere,” then the gender issue is moot.

    Gina, Michaela and Claudia receive the advice and counsel of women every day.

    ~~ Bob

    [Los Angeles wine marketing professional]

  2. Marcia Macomber - September 3, 2013

    Those are several excellent questions, Tom. (And I know you’ve thought of many more you could pull out of your hat next Thursday evening!) I, for one, am dying to know the answers to those questions and more. (But alas, we have only an hour or so to listen for gems from the panelists!)

    The Time Magazine article did stand out in my mind when it came out for its mention of women in business thinking long-term results. It will be interesting to hear how that facet of business plays into the panelists’ decision-making on a day-to-day basis for each of their companies.

    We look forward to seeing you and the panelists next week at Buena Vista to hear your views on the future of the wine industry and women’s future in the industry (if it is any more unique than men’s future in the wine industry). Natch! Undoubtedly we’re sure to get at least four different viewpoints!

    Marcia Macomber
    Marketing Director
    Women for WineSense – Napa | Sonoma

  3. Bob Henry - October 10, 2013

    Disseminated by Wine Business Monthly’s e-mail news blast today:

    “Goodbye, Wine Snobs: How E. & J. Gallo Winery Courts Millennials”

    Wine Over Ice? Younger Consumers Not Tied to Drinking Traditions

    [Link: ]

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