Cellar Talk with Penelope Gadd-Coster
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Honoring Women in Wine:
Gadd-Coster on change and not being afraid to do something different
Interviewed by Elizabeth Smith
1. How did you get your start in wine?
Mostly luck. I was looking for a career change and wine was one of the paths. A good friend of mine, a winemaker himself, encouraged me to go that path. We had gone to high school together in Livermore and wine was part of the culture. But I still wasn’t sure winemaking was something I could do not having come from a wine family or one that drank wine.
2. Where are you in your career now?
I am in a happy place! I am now in the best position to be a winemaker as a member of the Naked Wines family. After having a winery of my own and directing a large winery, I know how hard it is to be in the wine business. I am a winemaker again because of you, the Angels!
3. How do Naked Angels empower you as a winemaker?
It takes a LOT of time to “pound the pavement” to sell wine, taking time away from the winery and the vineyards. As I mentioned above, Angels have allowed me to be a winemaker, the part I love – making great wines to be shared with you!
4. What’s a BIG lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Be willing to make some big changes in your life and not be afraid to do something different. This can be a hard lesson, but so worth it. After 35 years in wine, I still wake up saying how wonderful it is that I get to make wine. How great is that?
5. What’s the message you have for other women winemakers?
We made it! Be strong, be humble, and know you are doing something great – both craft and science. Not all professions can claim this.
6. What is your big hope for women in wine in the future?
That women no longer see themselves being in a profession that is considered a male one. It doesn’t matter how many women are in the profession, we all have unique gifts. A profession should be just that, not attached to a gender or race. Even though there were some obstacles to getting where I am today because I worked in a male-dominated field for so long, I no longer see myself as not belonging.
Lastly – is there a women’s empowerment organization or cause you support or would like to?
Women for WineSense, a great group for mentoring, learning about the ins and outs of the wine business, and making contacts.
Elizabeth Smith is a freelance wine, food, and travel journalist well as a communications and social media specialist based in the Napa Valley.