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Democratizing Wine

When you think of a wine drinker, what comes to mind? Perhaps it's a wealthy collector with a cellar full of treasures. Or maybe it's someone who simply loves wine, eagerly consuming anything they can get their hands on to learn more. But here's what you probably weren't imagining: the community of Latinas who harvest the very grapes that go into so many bottles of California wines.

I was greatly heartened to come across a recent Vinepair article about Zidanelia Arcidiacono, Sonoma-Cutrer's assistant winemaker, addressing this issue. The article mentions that Arcidiacono, 36, is trying to "democratize wine for people of all backgrounds and professions, especially within wineries. … At Sonoma-Cutrer, Arcidiacono wants to make sure that the women who work to grow and pick grapes — the very backbone of her winemaking process — are invited to taste and fall in love with the wines they help produce."

The daughter of a Mexican mother and Argentinean-Italian father, Arcidiacono grew up noticing that wine was generally viewed as a privilege to drink. Her mission is to change that perception, starting with the staff at Sonoma-Cutrer, where she hosts community tastings, health workshops, and career development consultations for the staff, in particular the women. She also holds tastings with the team that cultivates the vineyard.

If Arcidiacono succeeds in her plight, perhaps one day in the not-so-distant future, when the term "wine drinker" is mentioned, just about anyone would fit the bill.