PORTLAND, OR, February 1, 2021 — Speakers from all over the U.S. will be weighing in on critical Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) topics at the Oregon Wine Symposium February 16-19, 2021, which for the first time in its 16 year history will be held virtually. Comprised of more than 50 seminars curated by Oregon Wine Board (OWB) Education Director Bree Stock MW, and volunteers from the industry who populate the OWB Education Committee, the four-day Symposium events will have threads of DEI running through numerous presentations, including the Education Update and Linfield and OWB Labor Survey Presentation to be presented by Stock and Dr. Jeff D. Peterson of Linfield University. Keynote speaker and futurist Steve Brown will also address what inclusion looks like for the future multicultural wine customer.
The first day of Symposium features two seminars dedicated to DEI:
February 16 at 2:30 will see Creating an Inclusive Workplace Culture in the Real World with five presenters: Jessica Mozeico, Et Fille Wines and Mozeico Consulting; Michele Leedom, Clinton Street Consulting; Lindsi Taylor, Columbia Distributing; Bill Sweat, Winderlea Vineyard and Winery; and Myra Hubbard – Women’s Self-Empowerment Institute, Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc. This session will outline actions wine businesses have undertaken to create cultures of greater diversity, equity and belonging, and gives a solid starting point for businesses aspiring to create more inclusive cultures. It will also show tangible examples of what has worked and not worked for Oregon wine businesses.
Immediately following the above presentation at 3:15 will be the DEI Survey of the Oregon Wine Landscape and Calculating the ROI on Diversity for Business Success. Three speakers will present—Remy Drabkin, Remy Wines; Edward Hubbard, Hubbard & Hubbard, Inc.; and Rachel Adams of Assemblage. This seminar will underscore the importance of the results from Oregon’s first diversity survey, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Jeff Peterson, Drabkin and Adams, who have been collaborating for over a year to source this information.
Drabkin, along with the founder of Celtic Moon Vineyards, Dennis O’Donoghue, are the two most recent industry members appointed by the governor to the Oregon Wine Board. A McMinnville native and McMinnville City Council President, Drabkin is the first gay person to join the Oregon Wine Board of Directors. She has been active in her hometown through boards and committee membership, and Chairs McMinnville’s Affordable Housing Task Force and is the City liaison to its DEI advisory committee. She is also a founding member of the Willamette Valley Winery Association’s Diversity, Equity, Belonging and Inclusion (DEBI) committee and is continuing that work through the Education Committee of the Oregon Wine Board. Drabkin requires DEI training for her winery employees and successfully lobbied for mandatory instead of optional DEI training for McMinnville city officials.
True to Our Commitment to Change, written in June 2020, Symposium producer Oregon Wine Board strives to make better choices in equity and inclusion, pledging, “we are committed to cementing principles of equity thoroughly and thoughtfully into the work we are already undertaking in service to Oregon’s industry … We are actively reviewing our programs, which span education, marketing, media relations and research, to identify where we can take meaningful, sustained action.”
The first step of the DEI pledge–to assemble commitments from all OWB staff and Board to create a more inclusive organization—has shown itself in a numbers of ways. These include ensuring vendors are committed to DEI, inviting diverse media members to Oregon, ensuring diverse race and gender representation in messaging across all audiences and channels, and embarking on four months of rigorous DEI training for the staff and Board under a well-known thought leader, Michele Leedom, also a speaker at Symposium.
Also true to its Commitment to Change, OWB implemented a scholarship program for aspiring wine professionals of color in Oregon, underwriting attendance at the Oregon Wine Symposium as well as other wine education opportunities around the state. This action led to OWB providing 15 Symposium passes to mentors and mentees in the Wine Unify program, who may have faced economic hardship with the participation fee. OWB’s Bree Stock MW is also developing a webinar master class for mentors and mentees of the program, and will include BIPOC winemakers in a panel at another virtual master class on Feb. 2 from 1-2:30.
In addition, OWB partnered with AHIVOY, a local non-profit providing scholarships for education across viticulture, winemaking and wine business to Latinx vineyard stewards, to provide 18 students full access to the entire Oregon Wine Symposium program. Additionally, AHIVOY will see its first enrollment of students achieve the WSET Level 1 Foundation certificate sponsored by Stock, who is on the Institute of Masters of Wine Diversity, Inclusion and Transformation committee, and Linfield University’s Evenstad Center for Wine Education.
With Spanish interpretation offered for all Viticulture Track seminars, research updates, and industry awards presentations, as well as the entire program on Tuesday, Feb. 16, the Symposium continually strives to cover thought-provoking and inclusive topics for the wine industry, here in Oregon and abroad.
For a full list of programs, please visit the Oregon Wine Symposium site.
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About the Oregon Wine Board:
The Oregon Wine Board is a semi-independent Oregon state agency managing marketing, research, and education initiatives that support and advance the Oregon wine and wine grape industry. The Board works on behalf of all Oregon wineries and independent growers throughout the state’s diverse winegrowing regions. To learn more, visit industry.oregonwine.org