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Photo for: Meet the women who inspire and empower


Meet the women who inspire and empower

We celebrate women breaking barriers and inspiring others. Six London Competition judges shared career stories, citing influential women and emphasizing industry representation.

Women are shattering barriers and defying stereotypes across all industries, inspiring younger generations as they steadfastly pursue their dreams. As part of our Women's Day Celebration, we engaged with six of our London Competition judges to explore what motivated them to embark on their careers, which female figures served as their inspiration, and their perspectives on women's representation in the beverage industry. Here's what they had to say: 

What inspired you to pursue a career in the beverage industry?

Image: Adriana Valentini

Adriana Valentini - What inspired me to pursue a career in the wine industry was since the very early beginning the possibility to travel abroad getting to know the producers, the faces of the wine producers which are behind the labels of their own bottles of wines. Honestly, every big celebration brings alongside a bottle of wine which has been opened and which has created a memory to cherish forever.

Image: Beatrice Bessi

Beatrice Bessi - What inspired me was actually the first Sommelier woman I ever spoke to, 15 years ago back in my country in Italy. Talking to her made me feel her knowledge, power and passion and I wanted to be like her. Therefore from that point I started to make steps to move from my bartending experience and life, to the career of Sommelier.

Image: Joanna Nerantzi

Joanna Nerantzi - As a sommelier, my passion for wine and the art of wine tasting inspired me to pursue a career in hospitality. I have always been fascinated by the complexity and diversity of wines from different regions and grape varieties. The ability to learn about the history, culture, and craftsmanship behind each bottle of wine is truly captivating to me. The opportunity to share my knowledge with others and help them discover new wines that they may enjoy is incredibly rewarding. Being a sommelier allows me to connect with people through the shared experience of tasting and appreciating wine, creating memorable moments and enhancing dining experiences.Ultimately, my desire to continuously learn, explore, and deepen my understanding of the world of wine has been a driving force behind my decision to pursue a career in hospitality as a sommelier.

Image: Chiara Sieni

Chiara Sieni - When I arrived in London in 2011 my first job was in a restaurant as a waitress, but soon I realized there was another noble art of selecting and pouring wines! it began!

Image: Cheryl Cade

Cheryl Cade - My inspiration started with my mother, supported by my husband & then the local CAMRA group that was & remains one of the most female forward branches in the country.

Image: Nikolett Maczo

Nikolett Maczo - Hospitality is art, I have always been an artist.

Are there any female figures who have influenced you in any way? 

Adriana Valentini - Definitely a female wine producer: Dr. Laura Catena, the MD of Catena Zapata winery. She has been recognized internationally for her active role in promoting the Mendoza wine region and Argentine Malbec. As a globetrotter myself, I have extensively traveled to South America where I started getting to know her and her projects. I have read Argentina’s definitive wine guide, Vino Argentino, as well as Gold in the Vineyards, a compilation of the world’s most celebrated vineyards!

Beatrice Bessi - I believe that the female community is constantly growing but is still nowhere near where it should be. I would say all my female colleagues back in 67 Pall Mall, inspired me to keep pushing and to make me understand I was not alone. I still find a lot of inspiration every time I have the chance to meet my fellow females in the wine industry,  from being a candidate in the same examinations or competitions to fellow MS student or MW student. We definitely want to support each other and that's great to see.

Joanna Nerantzi - As a sommelier, I have been inspired and influenced by several female figures in the wine industry who have made significant contributions and achievements. Women have played crucial roles in shaping the world of wine, from winemakers and vineyard owners to sommeliers, educators, and industry leaders. One of the female figures who has greatly influenced me is Jane Anson, a renowned wine critic, writer, educator at Bordeaux École du Vin and author of Inside Bordeaux. Her expertise, passion for wine, and dedication to educating others about wine have been truly inspiring. Her extensive knowledge and contributions to the wine world have set a high standard for excellence and professionalism. Another influential figure is Laura Catena, a fourth-generation winemaker and the managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata in Argentina. Her innovative approach to winemaking, focus on quality, and commitment to sustainability have been admirable and have helped elevate the reputation of Argentine wines on the global stage. I am also inspired by other female sommeliers who have excelled in their field and have broken barriers in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Their expertise, professionalism, and dedication to their craft serve as role models for aspiring sommeliers.  

Chiara Sieni - Marimar Torres (sister of Miguel Torres from the Torres family) she lives and owns vineyards in Sonoma

Cheryl Cade - It’s difficult to pick different people. From all the fantastic women I’ve met & met daily in this industry. Not only writers but the women who are not seen, who run competitions, work daily in breweries & run pubs without recognition. There are so many wonderful people out there.

Nikolett Maczo - Every hardworking female colleague that I have ever met has inspired me.

How do you feel about the representation of women in the industry? 

Adriana Valentini - Generally speaking, women continue to be under-represented in many wine-related fields. Although we, as women, are progressively gaining front-row jobs and positions! Despite the fact that the percentage of men occupying high-responsibility positions does exceed the percentage of women, things are slowly changing. Women are making tremendous steps in areas that once have been occupied only by men. There are now winemakers, sommeliers, critics, oenologists, and wine influencers on social media who are no longer a talking point just because they are women. It’s a fact: they are great at doing what they are doing!

Beatrice Bessi - 3. As I said already, I don't think we are nowhere near the full equality of genders. We are still underestimated and under-represented. Every day we all need to make small and big changes to make sure this gap will be down to null. It starts with us, and it needs to follow through with the industry and the overall society.

Joanna Nerantzi - As a sommelier, I believe that the representation of women in the wine industry has been steadily improving in recent years, but there is still work to be done to achieve greater gender equality and diversity. Historically, the wine industry has been male-dominated, with women facing challenges and barriers in advancing their careers and gaining recognition for their contributions. However, I am encouraged by the increasing visibility of women in all aspects of the wine industry, from winemaking and viticulture to sommelier roles, wine education, and leadership positions. Women are making significant strides and breaking stereotypes, demonstrating their expertise, passion, and talent in a traditionally male-centric field. It is essential to continue supporting and celebrating the achievements of women in the wine industry, as well as promoting inclusivity and opportunities for women to thrive and succeed. By fostering a more diverse and inclusive wine community, we can benefit from a broader range of perspectives, experiences, and talents, ultimately enriching the industry as a whole. I believe that a more inclusive and equitable industry will lead to greater innovation, creativity, and excellence in the world of wine.

Chiara Sieni - I think we should be better represented; the number of Women in Wines is growing and growing, both in the viticultural and winemaking sectors. Also in hotels and restaurants the number of Women as Head Somm or Buyer is increasing but there is a need for more women.

Cheryl Cade - Since my mother was working in the sector where the career path was barmaid, landlady, etc but always supported by a man I feel the U.K. sector has matured there are still pockets of manly dominance but mainly especially with younger people I don’t think being a woman talking about or working in beer is seen as unusual. It’s not the same in the rest of the world & there is still work to do to have complete equality

Nikolett Maczo - This is still a man's world but we are definitely rocking it! 


Call for domestic and international submission is now open for London Wine Competition. Enter your wines before 31 August 2024 to get super early bird pricing. Register now and ship later to save.

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