Winemaker Felicia Rogan
Rogan, of Virginia's Oakencroft Vineyard and Winery, answers our questions about working as a woman in the wine industry.
Q: How did you become involved in the wine business?
A: I met a friend, Lucie Morton, a young viticulturist who was running her family's vineyard, and my husband and I helped her pick grapes. Morton had a small press and we ran our pickings through and got the juice and she suggested that we get some small winemaking equipment and try and make wine out of it, which my husband did over the winter in our garage. It wasn't very good, but it got us hooked and we planted some vines the next spring and it went from there.
Q: What were some of the hurdles, if any?
A: There weren't any except trying to learn about this new business of wine grapegrowing, but there were many friends starting out at that time in the late 70's and early 80's and we had a lot of company on the learning curve.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: Everything except the expense of operating a winery. This is Oakencroft's 24th year and we are the oldest winery in Albemarle County. When I began in this business there were five wineries in Virginia. Now there are over 100, most with modern and very expensive equipment. I love drinking our own wine and meeting the customers in our Tasting Room and seeing them enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to do what you do?
A: Start with a big bank roll and get expert advice on site selection and grape clones and be sure that you have experienced help in the vineyard and winery.
Q: How are women changing the wine industry?
A: I don't think that they are changing it but adding to it because there are more women owners, winemakers, viticulturists and expert wine educators.
Q: What are some of the misconceptions about women and wine?
A: I haven't found any except that we now know that women choose and buy more wine than they used to and tend to drink what pleases them rather than what the experts say they should drink.
Q: Which of your own wines is your favorite and which wines do you generally prefer?
A: Asking me that is like asking me which is my favorite child! I tend to like lightly oaked Chardonnays and Viogniers and Merlots.
Oakencroft Vineyard & Winery, 1486 Oakencroft Lane, Charlottesvile, Virgina, 434-296-4188, oakencroft.com.