By Allison Levine
The wine industry has traditionally been a male-dominated industry that has followed a patriarchal line from generation to generation. But women have been working in wine throughout history. They run the business, work in the lab, are the spokesperson, marketer and consummate host at the winery. As we celebrate Mothers’ Day, we honor our mothers who are our rocks and our role models. They are the ones who have always been there for us, have cheered us on and encouraged us. In the four wineries profiled below, daughters reflect on their relationships with their mothers while working together in the wine industry.
Trombetta Family Wines
While her parents met at Hewlett Packard, Erica Stancliff grew up in wine. Her mother, Rickey Trombetta Stancliff, and her father Roger began making wine in their garage in the 1990s before Rickey began working for Paul Hobbs. With encouragement from Hobbs, Erica went to study at Fresno State and in her senior year, her mother decided to start her own label. Just before she graduated from college, Erica got a call from her mother to come home and harvest her first vintage in 2010 and then return to school. Today, Erica and Rickey run Trombetta Family Wines, producing chardonnay and pinot noir from the Sonoma Coast.
“Starting the business together has been an incredible experience,” Erica expressed. “We are intertwined. We share a business, a hobby [horses] and talk on the phone five times a day. But it was my mother’s guidance that shaped the path for our pinot noir. She was the driving force behind the entire project.” And, while Erica makes the wine, Ricky is “amazing. She does all of the sales and marketing on her own but she also goes out on every single pick, helps with the leafing and cleaning the bins. I am so proud of her.” Erica explained
Familia Martinez Bujanda
Marta Santander Martinez Bujanda is the 5th generation in the Familia Martinez Bujanda, founded in 1889. The family business runs along the maternal side of her family. Her grandmother, who is 92 years old, was the only child of a single vineyard owner in Oyon in Rioja La Besa, Spain. She married Marta’s grandfather who became the vineyard manager and believed that the family winery should only work with estate fruit. She spent every weekend in the vineyard while raising her children. Marta’s mother and uncle, the 4th generation in the family, run the family business together which includes four wineries in Spain in Rioja, Rueda and La Mancha – Finca Antigua La Mancha, Finca Montepedroso, Viña Bujanda and Finca Valpiedra.
Pilar Martinez Bujanda, Lauren Rosillo (Director of winemaking), Marta Santander Martinez Bujanda, Carlos Martinez Bujanda
Marta always knew she wanted to work in her family’s business but she did not want to work on the technical side of winemaking. “I am a shy person, but my mother thought I would be good on the commercial side of the business. She did not push me to go into the family business and wanted it to be my own decision, but she always tried to educate me and help me in the best way without pushing,” explained Marta who joined the family business in 2002. “My mother and my grandmother taught me that you have to work hard, hard, hard and I am proud of our family business.”
CK Mondavi and Family
Sisters Angelina, Alycia, Riana and Giovanna Mondavi started working summer jobs from the vineyard to the cellar to the lab for their family when they were each ten-years old. And at every event their parents Janice and Marc Mondavi would host, they would help serve guests. Looking back, Alycia explained, “I realized they were setting us up with the foundation of a family business and with a solid work ethic.”
While the Mondavi girls grew up in wine, their mother did not. Janice graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and was recruited by Sutter Home as the Public Relations Hospitality Manager. She met Marc 37 years ago and got involved in the family business overseeing the properties, managing bookkeeping and payroll. “She is the best salesperson we have in the company,” Alycia declared. “She is our mentor from every angle and is one of our best friends. She is the backbone of the family. Our family is driven by our father’s passion and our mother’s strength. She keeps us together and is the heartbeat, and the mediator. She is the sounding board for everyone. Rianna added, “Mom is an active listener and did a great job of teaching us how to listen to people and listen to what they need. It is how we approach business and people.”
Today the sisters have two wineries together, Aloft and Dark Matters. Angelina is the consulting winemaker for the two wineries, as well as five other wineries. Alycia is a marketing consultant and oversees the day-to-day operations of Aloft and Dark Matters. Rianna, after working in wine sales for a distributor, lives in Dallas and manages national restaurant account sales for CK Mondavi and Family. Giovanna, the baby of the family, is currently working in finance but cannot imagine not working in the family business one day.
Jackson Family Wines
Katie and Julia Jackson grew up in the wine industry. Katie first fell in love with the industry after working harvest at one of the family wineries. Julia decided she wanted to work with her family after working harvest in France when she was 21. Both recognized the hard work, passion and camaraderie involved in making a bottle of wine. While their father, Jess Jackson, was an icon in the wine industry, their mother Barbara Banke worked side-by-side with him and has been an influential driving force in the family business. “My mom embodies strong and effective female leadership, and through her example, showed me that our wine industry was accommodating to both men and women leaders. She also taught me a very pragmatic approach to business,” explained Julia. Katie added, “I’ve always admired my mom’s long-term, strategic thinking. She always sees a couple of steps ahead as to what we should do next to be successful long-term, including how we can continue to innovate how we make wine in order to be better environmental stewards. I appreciate how fearless my mom is. She is a natural leader whose take-charge attitude and authority are immediately recognized. She has never been afraid to voice strong opinions or to take a strong stance about something, and I really admire that about her.” They are especially proud of their mom being the first woman to win the “Person of the Year” award from the Wine Enthusiast.
Today Katie is working as the VP of Sustainability and External Affairs for the company and Julia is learning the ropes at the company, including leading a Think Tank focused on enhancing the health and well-being of their employees. They recognize their mother’s signature touches on the family business, including a keen eye for finding great vineyards. “She was the driving vision behind my family’s recent expansion into Oregon’s Willamette Valley as well as making our first wine in South Africa. Her desire to own good quality land is a tremendous inspiration to me,” said Julia. In addition, their mother has made the company’s focus on charitable giving and social equity in the company a priority.