From a career in wildlife biology to working in the grape growing and viticulture industry, Victoria Reader, a South Jersey native, found where her passion lies. At first, Reader aspired to work in the wildlife biology industry but changed careers and worked at the South Jersey winery Auburn Road Vineyard Winery & Enoteca. She then worked for Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery and recently transitioned to Cellar Master and Vineyard Manager at Amalthea Cellars.
With her entrepreneurial spirit, Reader used her expertise in and passion for wildlife biology and grape growing to establish Women in Wine, a space for like-minded women to exchange ideas, network, collaborate, and learn about the different aspects of the wine and grape growing industry. Reader shared with us during an interview all about her career, her Women in Wine organization, and, in perfect time for the holidays, great wines for gift-giving.
- How did you go from a career in wildlife biology to working in the grape growing industry?
"It was kind of by accident," said Reader. She explained that a lot of the wildlife biology jobs are seasonal, and she had gotten to the point where she needed to decide whether to get a master's degree or to keep working in those seasonal jobs. One time, while in-between seasonal jobs and looking for her next one, she decided to go back to the Auburn Road Vineyard in Pilesgrove, NJ, which was close by where she lived at the time. Reader asked them if they needed any help, and they gave her a job at the vineyard. It was there that she fell in love with the work. She had no idea she could do that kind of work in New Jersey, and she couldn't be more excited. It was through this job at Auburn Road Vineyard that she began her career shift. Reader has loved working in the grape growing industry ever since.
- What is it like working in the wine industry?
Reader says working in this industry is really interesting. The reason why she loves it so much is because she gets to be a part of the wine process from start to finish. Tapping her hands in the soil, being involved in, and taking care of the vineyard and grapes, making the wine, and finally getting the wine in people's hands. Reader loves knowing that one bottle of wine is bringing people together. She enjoys every step of the process.
- What made you start Women in Wine? What was the process like in starting it?
Reader had been thinking of starting a group where like minds could share all there is about the wine industry for a few years prior to establishing Woman in Wine. She had noticed that, while there are a lot of women in the industry, the grape growing industry is really a male-dominated field. As a young woman in a male-dominated industry, some of the experiences she had pushed her to reach out to other women and motivated her to create a safe space such as Women in Wine. She asked other women in the industry if they were interested in being part of a group as she had seen and been a part of other women's wine groups in the past. She wondered, why not have a wine group in New Jersey? Reader aimed to create a community for women to network, collaborate, and support one another, and she did just that with Women in Wine. The group began with small meetings and has progressed from there as more and more women have become involved.
- Do you have any suggestions for any good wines for the holidays?
Reader suggests Amalthea Cellars and Stokelan Winery, great wineries in New Jersey if you're looking for good red blends. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Heritage are also great choices for red blends. Reader always recommends red wines for the holidays, but if you like white, she says there are always a lot of good white wines around the state sale.
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