This #GirlBoss Made Her Love for Wine into a Full-Fledged Career
Let’s be honest — if being a professional wine drinker was a normal job, it’s more than likely a few of us would quit our day jobs and apply for that immediately. And while most people’s love for wine stops at enjoying a glass at dinner, splitting a bottle with your boo or adding to a modest wine rack collection, Jessica Altieri, the CEO and founder of Wine Channel TV Digital Network, turned it into a full-time gig. It sounded too good to be true, so we caught up with Jessica to hear what it’s like to be considered a wine pro, what trends we can look out for and what it takes to be a #girlboss in the digital space.
B+C: So. Let’s just clear the air. You’re a professional wine drinker. Yes or no?
JA: I prefer to call it “wine sensory and taste researcher.” So, yes. AKA… professional wine drinker. I’m a level-two certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, a California Wine Appellation Specialist, Professional Wine Judge, author, speaker and CEO/Publisher of the Wine Channel TV Digital Network.
I have appeared on ABC, WGN, CNBC and ESPN Radio, also online with AOL, BRAVO and Michigan Avenue Magazine, spreading the message that “Wine Is Just a Conversation Waiting to Happen.” My book, Kiss My Glass: Jess Altieri’s “NO-BS” Wine Buying Guide is available online through Amazon and in select Walgreens Flagship stores throughout the US.
Through my travels to New Zealand, France, Italy, Austria, Oregon, Washington and California, I have worked with over 100 wineries and wine lifestyle brands. And as a professional wine judge, I’ve participated in prestigious competitions, including the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition (third year), the International Women’s Wine Competition and the Sonoma County Harvest Fair. And, I am a graduate of New York University with a degree in broadcast journalism.
B+C: Can you expand a little bit on Wine Channel TV Digital Network? What type of programming does it produce and what makes it unique?
JA: We create original wine lifestyle content, called “edutainment,” the perfect blend of education and entertainment, which is focused on wine lifestyle instead of just wine. As the CEO and publisher of the Wine Channel TV Digital Network, I lead the charge to change the way consumers experience wine through our ability to reach and engage millennials with social media and video campaigns. From sports to fashion to music, wine is a currency to convey conversations around the world. We’ve grown to become the world’s fastest growing digital wine lifestyle network and collaborate with leading brands, trade associations and lifestyle companies around the globe.
B+C: Your book, Kiss My Glass, is a no-BS guide to buying wine. Can you share your top three tips for purchasing a great bottle of wine?
- Don’t be afraid to ask your wine buyer for recommendations; they may have a winning new wine they just got in. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can try a sample!
- More and more wine buyers are offering tastings; take advantage and see if you really like what you’re about to buy.
- Location, location, location — if you’re headed to an Italian dinner, think Italian wine. Going to a fancy French restaurant, stick to a great French wine. Always think location if you’re in doubt of what to get, and you won’t go wrong.
B+C: What should wine lovers on a budget look for in a good bottle of grapes?
JA: When on a budget, make the time to get to know your local wine shop owners. They can steer you toward great new varietals you may not have tried and offer up some tastes to whet your palate.
B+C: You often travel to judge wine competitions. Which city do you think takes the crown for best wine?
JA: I judge thousands of wines in a competition. At the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of American wines, we judged over 7,000 wines! The city where that takes place, Cloverdale, California, could rank right up there for one week each year.
B+C: What trends in wine are you seeing for the later half of 2016 and into the New Year?
- More amazing wine-by-the-glass options. Thank you, Coravin…
- Advanced wine apps and new technology to help you keep learning about new wine regions and track your favorites.
- Millennials, who are the biggest consumers of wine at the moment, are all about experimenting with new varietals, so tons of room for growth from producers around the globe.
B+C: Have to ask — you only get to drink one wine for the rest of your life. What is it (and why!)?
JA: My tagline, which appears at a wine bar in Disney in California, is “wine is just a conversation waiting to happen.” So my answer depends on where I’m at and who I’m having a conversation with; however, that being said, I am partial to a big, bold Barolo in Italy.
B+C: Fair enough. Let’s pretend wine isn’t an option. What are you drinking? Water? Beer? Diet Coke?
JA: Green tea, iced or hot!
B+C: What’s the toughest thing about being a trailblazer in the wine industry?
JA: You need to take a daily dose of courage and adopt a “smash the wall down” attitude. It’s a male-dominated industry. I’m wine smart, tech savvy and I pilot a digital wine rocket-ship that is fueled by new apps and technology every day. There’s little room to walk and talk softly. It’s jump in…. take some shots…. get up and keep going. No time to reflect. Women should and are taking on more leadership roles and starting their own wine-related businesses, like I have, and people are paying attention. This is a great time to get into the wine industry.
B+C: What’s your best piece of advice for your fellow #GirlBosses out there?
JA: Perfect is the enemy. Don’t try to be flawless at everything you do, just make a plan and get going. Then you can always adjust things as you go. The hardest part is starting.
Tweet us your fave wine @BritandCo!
(Photos via Jessica Altieri)
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
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