Cellar Talk with Ondine Chattan
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Honoring Women in Wine:
Chattan shares her winemaking journey and how Angels inspire her
Interviewed by Elizabeth Smith
1. How did you get your start in wine?
I worked in tasting rooms to get a feel for the industry and wine consumers. I began my winemaking career with the marvelous Matt Cline at Cline Cellars in Carneros when it was a startup. I did everything from lab to vineyard sampling to bottling and blending. I gained an appreciation of what it takes to run a winery. We sourced fruit from multiple regions, so I learned to appreciate treasures that lie outside traditional varieties and appellations. This had a profound effect on my winemaking.
2. Where are you in your career now?
There was such intensity in my early years. I felt I had to prove myself working in large corporate wineries where there was endless change and realignment. I adapted, but there was a sense of discontent. Now I am confident, empowered, and creatively in control.
3. How do Naked Angels empower you as a winemaker?
The Angel community is remarkable. I have learned what they like (and don’t like) about wine, what draws them to wine, and why Naked Wines fills a special niche.
Angels provide the financial resources for projects that would otherwise be cost prohibitive. Emotionally they provide inspiration and encouragement, embracing our range and repertoire and allowing us to push the envelope.
We can align our ambitions with their interests, making it possible to pursue projects that might not fit a traditional model.
4. What’s a BIG lesson you’ve learned along the way?
The world needs authenticity and humanity. Like minds congregate naturally and open minds welcome differing perspectives. Being yourself – genuine, vulnerable, and accessible – creates fertile ground for growth.
5. What’s the message you have for other women winemakers?
There are many different paths to achieving a successful career in winemaking. We need more women on the innovation front.
6. What is your big hope for women in wine in the future?
I hope there will not need be a distinction of women versus men in wine – that we simply become a community of winemakers. I believe that we are near to blurring that distinction.
Lastly – is there a women’s empowerment organization or cause you support or would like to?
I am a big believer in women’s microfinance projects like Apolis Global. Like Naked Wines, it provides funding, direct connection to a human, and investment in that person’s success.
Elizabeth Smith is a freelance wine, food, and travel journalist as well as a communications and social media specialist based in the Napa Valley.