As we continue our celebration of Women’s History Month, we wanted to learn a bit more from the magical woman behind our wine: Mari Wells Coyle. Learn more about how she got started as a winemaker, and what it’s like to be a female in a traditionally male-dominated industry in our Q&A below.
How did you first get into winemaking?
Mari: I started studying winemaking after attending the Maritime Academy in Vallejo. I transferred to UC Davis where I could learn more science, but with a practical hands-on experience. I’ve always loved to be hands-on. My father was a sailor and I’ve often felt that working in a winery reminds me of being on a ship.
After graduating from UC Davis in Viticulture and Enology, I worked for Gloria Ferrer Sparkling Wines, Merry Edwards in Russian River, and traveled to New Zealand for 2 vintages. I became head winemaker at the age of 24 and have always loved developing my own unique style that speaks to the origin of the fruit. I had the science background to really support my creativity at an early age to master my craft. Before coming to ONEHOPE, I was a winemaker at Sterling Vineyards. My time at Sterling helped me learn about the Napa Valley. I think winemaking is equal parts science and art, and with more experience I find new ways to be creative in the cellar and capture the essence that is the vineyard.
Tell us more about ONEHOPE’s winery opening in the heart of Napa and what it means for the business.
Mari: We’ve pulled together a small purpose-driven community of eclectic people that we hand-picked ranging from athletes and musicians, to entrepreneurs, visionaries and philanthropic families, all with a common thread of being rooted in purpose. We’ve connected all of them with the brand and each other through shared ownership in a beautiful vineyard and winery in the heart of Napa. They’ve helped us to build a beautiful private estate residence on the property that we refer to as ESTATE8.
Additionally on the property is a state-of-the-art-winery designed by Napa’s most famous architect in history, Howard Backen. With 15,000+ square feet of hospitality space it will be a one-of-a-kind entertaining space. The winery is smack dab in the heart of Napa amongst many of the finest wine brands to ever come out of the US. We are nextdoor neighbors to the famous Beaulieu Vineyards and the To Kalon property that Robert Mondavi and Andy Beckstoffer have made so famous. Over 5M cars drive by every year, so to say this is going to be big for our credibility and awareness is an understatement!
What is it like to be a female winemaker in a traditionally male-dominated industry?
Being a woman in the wine industry has provided me with so many challenges and opportunities. Early in my career, I found that people weren’t used to seeing a woman in a head winemaker role and were often surprised or wondered if I knew what to do. That’s always given me an opportunity to stay focused on the details and work hard. I’ve learned that hard work always pays off. Now more than ever I’m passionate about empowering women to have a wonderful career in our industry.
What advice do you have for women looking to start a career in wine?
I welcome women to learn more about wine as a science, art, and business. There are so many opportunities for women in our industry. Ask questions and find where your passion lies: whether it’s sales and marketing, or production and distribution.
As a first step, I always encourage starting with the basics and learning more about how wine is made. That’s why I built our ONEHOPE online training course for Cause Entrepreneurs to further their knowledge and expertise. There is nothing better than the basics, and I find that the more I teach, the more I learn too!
Cheers to the Sipsterhood!
Thanks for stopping by to get to know Mari and learn more about women in the wine industry! Raising our glass to the trailblazing females everywhere who serve as leaders and role models for all. We’re so proud to have you as part of our #Sipsterhood!
-The ONEHOPE Wine team