Hispanics in Wine fosters advancement for wine workers
The co-founders of the organization Hispanics in Wine, Lydia Richards and Maria Calvert, are determined to create change in the industry for the group that makes up the majority of the vineyard workforce: Latinos.
On a recent trip to Napa, Calvert and Richards made an eye-opening discovery.
“We learned that some of the vineyard workers don’t even taste the wine they’re harvesting,” Calvert said. “That just speaks volumes to the limited accessibility and opportunities there are for individuals who are the backbone of the industry.”
“We saw the lack of (Latino) representation of people working in the industry beyond vineyard workers,” Richards said.
More than 70% of field workers in wine in California were likely born in Mexico, according to Philip Martin, professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis’ Global Migration Center.
Even so, Mexican people and other Latinos are often underrepresented in other roles in the wine industry — as business owners, wine professionals and wine consumers.
That’s why Richards and Calvert are collaborating with other organizations to present the second annual LatinX State of the Wine Industry Summit on Dec. 1 in Napa. This year’s theme is “Somos Visibles: Unheard Voices en Vino.” The conference will highlight Latino leaders in the wine industry and include panel discussions on professional development. The daylong conference will be both online and in-person. Tickets are $125 to $215 and are available online at bit.ly/3zVeM2Q.
Richards and Calvert not only want to help Latinos rise through the industry ranks, they also want to highlight them as they’re ascending. They’ve collaborated with other organizations to create the Hispanic Wine Professional directory, a nationwide listing of Latino wine professionals such as wine educators and winery owners (hispanicsinwine.com/hiw-directory). In addition, they launched their online HiW Spotlight Series to showcase, through bilingual interviews, Latino wine professionals across the globe, such as wine producers, sommeliers and marketing experts (hispanicsinwine.com).
The co-founders said it’s important for Latinos to share their stories of how they came to play a role in the food and wine industry.
Calvert’s story starts in Quito, Ecuador, where she was born. She grew up in the New York borough of Queens, and she began her love affair with food and wine while studying abroad in Spain and traveling widely. In Porto, Portugal, she visited her first winery.
Richards, originally from Panama, said her passion for wine began when she lived in Paris and traveled to French wine regions. Today, she’s a certified sommelier from the Sommelier Society of America. As an Afro-Latina, she said she’s excited to mentor the next generation of Latinos, Blacks and other people of color in the wine industry.
Hispanics in Wine reaches 300 wine professionals, according to Richards and Calvert. They plan to focus on providing educational support for Latinos in the industry by funding scholarships and tuition for Latino wine professionals. They also aim to create networking opportunities through culturally relevant events and outreach efforts with vineyard workers.
The organization contributed $1,000 to a mobile clinic called the “Botanical Bus” that travels through Sonoma and Napa counties, meeting vineyard workers onsite to provide acupuncture and diabetes prevention, among other treatments and services. The mobile clinic is expected to treat 800-plus people in 2022.
Hispanics in Wine, Calvert said, hasn’t even scratched the surface in what they hope to achieve.
“We’re committed to not only spearhead initiatives that foster inclusion and equality,” she said, “but also promote, support and work with like-minded individuals and organizations tirelessly to achieve the same goals.”
You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at firstname.lastname@example.org or 707-52-5310.