Home Wine Business Editorial Wine’s Most Inspiring People: Julia Coney—Writer, Educator, Speaker

Wine’s Most Inspiring People: Julia Coney—Writer, Educator, Speaker

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Over the last year and a half, Julia Coney’s influence within wine continues to deepen, inspiring wine professionals to become more thoughtful about how their work can make a meaningful impact on the industry. The day after “Blackout Tuesday,” Coney took to her Instagram account to share her experiences of racism within the wine industry, and how simply posting black squares (or continuing to ignore the problem) wasn’t going to incite change. The two-part video (titled “Racism and the Wine Industry: Your Silence is Betrayal”) garnered over 24,000 views, and prompted long-overdue conversations and necessary action around diversity and inclusion in the beverage industry.

But she didn’t stop there. Immediately after posting the video, Coney launched Black Wine Professionals, a resource for wine industry employers and gatekeepers, professionals, and the food and beverage community. Additionally, the organization provides educational opportunities and scholarships for Black wine professionals to gain certifications and increase their wine knowledge. For the second year, the organization has partnered with Champagne Laurent-Perrier USA to provide five scholarships to the Wine Scholar Guild’s Champagne Master-Level certification. Outside of her work with Black Wine Professionals, hosting virtual chats with wine professionals on her platform, and mentoring other wine professionals, Coney also serves as contributing editor for VinePair, is the wine consultant for Sweet July Magazine, leads wine seminars across the country, and is one of the newest members of the University of California-Davis Executive Leadership Board.

Julia Coney—Writer, Educator, Speaker
Julia Coney—Writer, Educator, Speaker

It’s clear that Coney doesn’t just talk about it; she’s committed to doing the work and doing it well. However, she acknowledges that she can’t do it alone. “This work is hard, lonely, and rewarding at the same time, and that’s okay,” she says. “To whom much is given, much is required.”

What many may or may not know is that Coney started off as a beauty blogger in 2006­—sharing tips about primers, lip gloss, night creams and other essentials to lead a glamorous life. About a decade later, and with encouragement from family and friends, she expanded her writing to incorporate her love for wine, food, and travel. Attending the 2016 Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California was the launch pad for her career in wine, and she hasn’t looked back since. Her captivating personality saturated with a hefty dollop of Southern Hospitality encourages wine lovers at all levels to want to step out of their comfort zones to improve their craft.

In 2017, Rick Dean was attending the Wine Bloggers Conference for the first time and reached out to the event’s Facebook page looking to connect with other attendees. “Julia was the only person who reached out. We met for dinner on the day of my arrival, and she then proceeded to introduce me to everyone she knew,” he recalls. “That kind of openness and generosity to all is rare. But no less, it is important to the work she is now doing on diversity, equity and inclusion in the wine industry.”

While Coney acknowledges the industry has changed over the last 18 months, she believes the work isn’t about making one stride, but about lifelong work. “When I started writing and talking about DEI (diversity, equity, inclusivity), it was 2018,” she recalls. “We’ve come far, which is good, but we still have a way to go. There is still much work to be done to ensure people feeling safe to speak out and that their voices and experiences matter.”

"There is still much work to be done to ensure people feeling safe to speak out and that their voices and experiences matter.” —Julia Coney
“There is still much work to be done to ensure people feeling safe to speak out and that their voices and experiences matter.” —Julia Coney

If there’s anything we all should have learned over the last year, it is that diversity is not simply a box that can be checked. Coney pushes for continual learning, unlearning, growing, making mistakes, and correcting of those mistakes in order to bring forth the real change. “What keeps me inspired to keep going is seeing the change happening right before my eyes,” she says. “The movement that has started will continue, but we need to more Black and brown people in [wine] distribution, sales, and part of the supply chain.”

Ultimately, Coney believes in the goodness of people, and often keeps a quote from the late John Lewis at the top of mind: “Nothing can stop the power of a committed and determined people to make a difference in our society. Why? Because human beings are the most dynamic link to the divine on this planet.”

Chasity Cooper

“This work is hard, lonely, and rewarding at the same time, and that’s okay.” —Julia Coney
“This work is hard, lonely, and rewarding at the same time, and that’s okay.” —Julia Coney

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About Wine’s Most Inspiring People: Each year, Wine Industry Advisor chooses 10 individuals within the wine industry who showcase leadership, innovation, and inspiration. For the first time in 2021, WIA opened up the submission process to the industry at large. With over 100 nominees, the editorial team selected the top 10 individuals who they felt has truly positively impacted the US wine culture over the past year. Read more here

Wine's Most Inspiring People

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