Wine Industry’s #MeToo Moment? Curious Vine’s Queena Wong Responds

Queena Wong, founder of Curious Vines, the supportive community that connects women in wine, has commented on the article that appeared in The Times T2 on, March 14th 2024.  With a headline: Is the wine industry about to have its own MeToo moment? journalist Kate Spicer shared experiences of women who work in the wine trade. Queena Wong had conducted a recent survey of women who work in the wine trade, where one in three described experiencing harassment.

All too sadly, what happened to ‘Fiona’ and ‘Amy’ aren’t isolated incidents. “Kate Spicer’s hard-hitting article highlights an issue which I have exposed and am now pushing hard on, that women in the wine industry face unacceptable levels of sexism, gender bias, and harassment.

What Women in Wine Want - October 2023

Together with Proof Insight – the drinks and hospitality insights agency – we launched our Women in Wine report  in October last year revealing that one in three women in the industry have faced harassment while working including one in two 18-34-year-olds. Our research also showed that 78% of the women who took part in the research feel that sexism and gender bias is a major problem in the UK wine industry.”

Through Curious Vines, Queena provides networking, mentoring and workshops for women in the wine industry offering guidance and practical support. She has nearly 1,000 actively engaged industry professional contacts, which gives her unique insight into the full reach of the wine industry, networking with women working in wine production, independent and group retail and distribution, sommeliers, hospitality, trade associations and large-scale wine and spirits operators.

Queena has plans to create an inclusive and equitable UK drinks industry: “Two out of three women in our research said the industry isn’t doing enough to support them. This has to be acknowledged and embraced by the core of the industry, and having set up a meeting in December last year with 30 of the leading voices in wine and spirits to talk about solutions, I’m now working with the drinks industry’s leading bodies; The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, The Drinks Trust and the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) to set real change in motion.

To this end, there will be a meeting at Vintners’ Hall on 16th April to discuss next steps, including a proposal on aims, early priorities, coordinating structure and potential funding for an industry EDI programme. The industry bodies will also be looking for ideas and volunteers.”

Jancis Robinson reported on the findings for an article in the FT“What’s shocking is that we’re not shocked,” said Ian Harris, the recently retired head of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, at the presentation of the results in October, where he was one of only three men to attend in person. Wine companies had chosen to be represented by women employees, which Jancis says was a shame, “since this was mostly about how badly men in the industry treat their female colleagues.

Queena Wong of Curious Vines

Queena says: “Over the next few months we will set out a programme to support industry-wide culture change to ensure the industry can attract, nurture and importantly retain women within it.”

If you are interested in discussing how to help please email Queena on queena@curiousvines.co.uk.

You might also like: Our candid podcast with Amanda Ross CEO of  Saturday Kitchen (who shares her MeToo moments), Our Podcast with Dawn Davies of The Whiskey ExchangeThe new alcohol tax – we spoke to women in the drinks industry about what it means, our Highlights of the London Wine Fair 2023 where we first met Queena Wong, and Congratulations to Agnieszka Swiecka – Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year 2023.

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