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Over 100 Attend the Dream Big Darling Dreamer Summit in January


The professional enrichment seminars for emerging women attracted speakers, industry notables and scholarship recipients from around the country

Paso Robles, CA – March 6, 2024 – Over 100 national Dream Big Darling community members gathered in Paso Robles on January 9th for the nonprofit’s inaugural Dreamer Summit, a day of panel discussions, insights, networking, workshops and wine tastings.

The day was part of a broader, two-day Dreamer Summit & Exploration Tour program that awarded 21 scholarships to emerging women professionals in wine and spirits. Recipients, who came from throughout the country, were generously provided travel and accommodations by Hope Family Wines. The events included Paso Robles wine community notables along with speakers and subject experts from around the country, offering professional enrichment seminars as well as outings for a deep dive into Paso Robles wines and wine culture.  

“Our goal at Dream Big is to not only educate and connect our community, but to inspire,” says Dream Big Darling founder and Full Cup Solutions principal Amanda Wittstrom Higgins. “This program was focused on real-life stories, tools for success and most importantly, the infectious passion that comes from bringing so many talented people together in one environment. There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing the energy and excitement that comes from sharing wine, wisdom and dreams of the future to come.”

On January 9th, attendees convened at the Vina Robles Production Facility space for four in-person sessions: Telling Your Best Story, Bringing Your Dreams to Life, The Four-Ounce Pour and Paying It Forward. Shall We Wine CEO Regine Rousseau, Wine Business Monthly Managing Editor Erin Kirschenmann and Founder of Resplendent Ink Content Consulting Susan Kostrzewa openly discussed their own wins and challenges in identifying their personal brands and offered concrete ways to effectively engage with trade, media, and consumers. The Wine Group Chief Revenue Officer Amy Hoopes and WineDirect CMO Andrea Smalling offered out-of-box insights, real-life anecdotes and some laugh-out-loud moments on ascending the corporate ladder, mentoring talent and ensuring one’s respected space in any organization. Anna Maria Ponzi spoke about finding balance and savoring life as tied to her The Four- Ounce Pour concept and Dream Big Darling Board member Chuck Furuya M.S. talked candidly about establishing yourself in the industry—even when you’re a first in your family, community or culture—and being brave enough to take the path that’s truest to you.

Another highlight of the Summit was Nancy Gonzalez’s moving and personal account of her professional journey to become owner of Ulloa Cellars. The day wrapped with a Sip & Mingle reception at Paso Robles Wine Merchant featuring the wines of six women-led wineries from the Dreamer community. 

Day Two was equally inspiring, as national media and the scholarship winners began with an overview of the Paso Robles AVA presented by Chris Taranto of the Paso Robles Wine Alliance and longtime Viticulturalist Stasi Seay of Hope Family Wines. Attendees then broke into small groups for visits to top wineries in the region, guided by regional leaders: Cynthia Lohr and Kristen Barnhisel of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jordan Fiorintini of Epoch Estate, Maeve Pesquera of DAOU Estates, Molly Lonborg of Alta Colina and Samatha Taylor of Hope Family Wines.

Additional members of the Paso wine community then joined the group at Etto Pasta Bar in Tin City for the restaurant’s signature pastas, cheeses and meats with their wines on offer. Sponsored by DAOU Estates, the lunch brought together all attendees and Molly Dow of Justin Winery, Stephanie Terrizzi of Giornata Winery, Neeta Mittal of LXV Wines, Maeve Pesquera of DAOU Estate and Molly Lonborg of Alta Colina Winery. Pesquera delivered an inspiring message about the importance of community for future of women in wine as part of the lively lunch.

The day concluded with a blending and tasting session at Ancient Peaks Winery with winemaker Stewart Cameron, Wine Enthusiast Central Coast reviewer Matt Kettmann and Chuck Furuya M.S. The group tasted through different red varieties, discussing which elements are essential for a balanced and excellent wine. 

For more information on Dream Big Darling, go to dreambigdarling.org