Calgary and local women talk about their careers in wine and spirits.

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With less than a week until International Women’s Day on March 8, I’ll be featuring three women from Calgary and the area who have made careers in the beverage industry. They share insights about their journey and highlight the challenges they have faced while offering advice for those considering a similar career.

Nathalie Gosselin is the owner of Vine Styles, a wine shop located in the Kensington area of ​​Calgary. California

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Nathalie Gosselin, owner of Vine Styles

Originally from Montreal, Nathalie Gosselin earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the Université du Québec à Montréal. After graduating, she spent a year in Australia, developing her taste for wine.

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After his adventure in Australia, he moved to Alberta to work at the Banff Center from 2004 to 2013, where he became conference services manager. Her interest in wine continued to develop, leading her to enroll in courses through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET). A connection with her classmate Darren Stewart eventually led them to open a wine shop, Vine Styles, in Calgary.

Gosselin bought out his business partner in 2019 and now operates the Kensington store on his own. She says being a female entrepreneur has been difficult at times.

“Our culture does not associate women with success in the business world, and the additional steps and efforts required to reach a level of equality with a man as a business owner have been very exhausting and emotionally draining.

“Most men will say something like, ‘Yeah, it’s hard for us too.’ But the reality is that they have no idea how difficult it is for women to gain the same respect and trust. And it’s not something you can quantify or explain without being judged or worrying that people will think you feel like a victim. It is very conflictive not to want to be victimized, but also to want to speak so that the situation can change for the younger women who arrive.”

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What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to start in the trade?

“Surround yourself with the best women you know and don’t hesitate to speak up, ask for help and believe in yourself. Always keep in mind that what you are suffering or going through is probably felt by many other women.”

Favorite wine for about $30: Illimis, black grenache, Wellington, South Africa, $35.

Favorite wine splurge: Jean Vesselle, Oeil de Perdrix, Champagne, France, $90.

Dhira Roy Chowdhury is a Canmore sommelier who previously ran food operations at Banff Gondola. For Darren Oleksyn’s wine column to be published on Saturday, March 2, 2024. California

Dhira Roy Chowdhury, sommelier, former food and beverage director at Banff Gondola

Dhira Roy Chowdhury grew up in New Delhi, India, and dreamed of becoming a chef. He earned a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts followed by graduate studies in culinary and hospitality management. As he ate the second course he admitted that he liked being at the front of the house, meeting with the guests, more than in the kitchen.

She became intrigued by wine while managing the bar at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Bangalore (now Bangalaru), India. She then moved to Toronto to work at the St. Regis Hotel. After the St. Regis, she led the opening of the Vino Volo location at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, a wine and coffee bar serving airports across North America.

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In 2023, she became director of food and beverage at Banff Gondola, where she oversaw four different dining operations atop Sulfur Mountain. She left that job in January to focus on her own business, Somm Cellar, a wine and spirits consultancy. She also plans to continue working as a sommelier.

At first, she felt that women, especially women of color, were not given the same opportunities.

“I felt that sommelier positions would be more male-oriented. “I think people still consider that a white person or a man would be more favorable,” she says, adding: “People are much more open-minded now and I think all companies are looking for diversity.”

Chowdhury credits her regional manager at Vino Volo, Sally Campa, who was her first boss, for inspiring and empowering her in her career.

What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to start in the trade?

“I would say follow your passion. “There is a lot of hard work that comes along with this industry, there is a lot of hard work that also goes into getting wine, certifications, education, a lot of time and financial commitments.”

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Favorite wine for about $30: Schwaderer Wines 2020 Syrah/Viognier, Curicó Valley, Chile, $30.

Favorite wine splurge: Olivier Laflaive 2018 Meursault, Côte de Beaune, Burgundy, France, $180.

Peggy Perry, former president of Willow Park Wines & Spirits, started the VINfluence consulting business. California

Peggy Perry, owner of VINfluence

Peggy Perry is probably best known for her 28 years at Willow Park Wines & Spirits as director of marketing and purchasing and then president. She stepped down as president in June 2022 and founded VINfluence, a liquor and wine tourism consulting company, in October of that year. She is also the chair of this year’s inaugural Calgary Stampede Cellar Showdown International Wine Competition.

Growing up on Prince Edward Island, he earned degrees in marketing and education at the University of Prince Edward Island, but food, wine and travel were always his passions.

After marrying a Calgarian and moving to the city, Perry entered the liquor industry in 1985 with J. Webb Wine Merchant, which Janet Webb had just opened. She also studied and worked in France early in her career, including in Bordeaux with Maison Sichel.

He has seen a positive transformation in the industry, which he initially described as an old boys’ club.

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“But you know, most industries are dominated by men, right, in the business world. But things have changed dramatically in the 40 years I’ve been in business.”

What advice would you give to a young woman who wants to start in the business?

“Get some education about wine. Sign up for the wonderful courses offered to you in Alberta. Start by getting a wine-related job that isn’t a big commitment, just get a job stocking shelves at a liquor store or building product displays during the holiday season.

“You’re going to have to love the public. So it’s very important to make sure that’s in your wheelhouse. You have to realize that there will be challenges, but increasingly opportunities are being provided equitably and hopefully that will continue.

“There is always room for someone who has enthusiasm and knows how to work hard.”

Favorite wine for about $30: Pieropan Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy, $28.

Favorite wine splurge: Tolaini 2019 Picconero, Tuscany, Italy, $120.

Contact Darren Oleksyn at [email protected] or follow him instagram either x. Are you looking for a specific wine? Because wine inventories are always changing, it’s a good idea to call a store to confirm they have it. a search in I can give you an idea of ​​the stores that have sold the wines.

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