March is the month dedicated to showcasing and honoring women for their accomplishments in changing our culture and revolutionizing the world. While times have changed and ceilings continue to fall, women still struggle to earn the respect of their male counterparts, especially in certain fields.
One industry that is remarkably absent in this discussion is the wine industry. This group of growers and vintners has been demographically male-dominated throughout history, but in Western New York local wineries are breaking the mold for women.
Shane Gustafson is the owner and co-wine maker with her husband of Gust of Sun Winery in Ransomville, NY, which won Silver Medal in the 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.
Down the road, Mindy Vizcarra is now overseeing the winemaking operations, which is being done by several male co-workers, at Vizcarra Vineyards at Becker Farms. They also took home a Silver Medal in the 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition.A fifth-generation farm, Vizcarra is carrying on the family tradition but a leading female in the local industry and growing the business into an agri-tourism attraction.
South of them, Salamanca Estate Winery has both male and female winemakers who share equal responsibility in the winemaking responsibilities.
While not a traditional wine maker, Kristin Gregory is also breaking barriers as the chief-cider maker at BlackBird Cider Works. They have won several local awards including 2016 Silver Medal in the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition.
As we conclude women’s appreciation month, we must be proud of the continued work being done in our own backyard. Western New York continues to push forth in setting new precedents in many industries. While we spent the past month appreciating women it is imperative to continuing shining a light on the accomplishments being made around our community.
Dimitri Malliaris is the public relations intern for Full Plate Publicity. He is currently completing his bachelor’s degree at Buffalo State University in public communications with a minor degree in environmental science. He is in his final semester of college, and is currently the vice-president of PRSSA- Buffalo State Chapter.
Prior to getting his degree, Dimitri was co-general manager of Nektar and Ambrosia Restaurant in Buffalo, NY. He has spent his life in the hospitality industry. Following graduation, he hopes to work for the environment or renewable energy field doing public relations.