Harvest Seminars go virtual with Femmes du Vin
This year’s annual Harvest Seminars, hosted by not-for-profit organization Femmes du Vin, aren’t going to be your typical wine event. You’re not going to find big fancy sponsor boards, promotional tables or merchandise, or have trouble parking at the venue.
Femmes du Vin, an international non-profit organization that facilitates mentorship and scholarship opportunities for women in the wine world are hosting what might just be the biggest wine event of 2020 – and it’s all online. “Last year, we were bricks and mortar in Halifax and Toronto. Coronavirus forced us to become virtual, which looking back is an absolute blessing in disguise,” says Emily Pearce, president of Femmes du Vin.
The 2020 Harvest Seminars will happen over a span of five weeks, hosting a large roster of over two dozen speakers. “This year we have 10 seminars and they’re virtual. This is a global event with the very best not just women – but professionals across the world – coming to the table to talk,” says Pearce.
Among some of the panelists are Jennifer Huether, Femmes du Vin’s director of education and Canada’s first female master sommelier, as well as TV and podcast host Priya Rao, and Nabilah Rawji, sommelier and wine director of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.
Pearce says this year’s event will be focussing on community-driven content like vegan wines, understanding the supply chain and even fair labour – with topics such as diversity and inclusion in the wine industry being at the top of the list. “We have incredible issues with diversity and inclusion, whether that’s women, LGBTQ, BIPOC, women over 50 – we have issues that are still permeating in our industry,” says Pearce. “We continue to work to navigate those and break down those barriers but there are still challenges.”
Pearce mentioned they also wanted the event to be accessible, so it will be a pay-what-you-can event, but you are able to gain full access to all 10 seminars if you purchase a $75 all access ticket. All proceeds go to Femmes du Vin’s scholarship fund – something both Pearce and Jennifer Huether are extremely passionate about.
“The entire board is putting in hundreds and hundreds of hours collectively, practically on a weekly basis, and I think it’s because we just want to see it be a success. We just want to raise as much money as possible for scholarships,” says Huether. “We’re just driven to create something that’s excellent and ultimately that will hopefully change a little bit of the conversation and dialogue around opportunities and who’s getting them.”
Heuther and Pearce both forged their own successful path in the wine industry but say they couldn’t have done it without standing on the backs of giants. “Find some really great mentorship because that can cut a lot of time and frustration,” says Huether.
They also stress that although the wine business can be a large and daunting industry, don’t forget that you bring your own special skills to table. “Go for marketing or some of the other roles,” says Huether. “Sometimes people gravitate towards the sommelier course or the wine course, but you can bring your expertise to the wine business on so many levels.”
Pearce says no matter what you choose to do in life, whether it’s a sommelier or not you have to put in the work and the time. “Earn your seat at the table and sit there confidently, because you deserve to be there.”