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WiW bubbles with holiday spirit

Women in Wine: Fermenting Change in Oregon (WiW), is a statewide organization formed in 2019. Ashley Bradfield, operations manager for the organization, started the Southern Oregon chapter about two years ago.

The group began by hosting quarterly happy hours at various local tasting rooms. Each event since then has almost doubled in size. The early December event was the inaugural “holiday party” for Southern Oregon, and I’m sure I saw energy sparking through the double doors of the Jacksonville Inn as I walked down the street toward it.

This holiday gathering was hosted by the newly renovated Jacksonville Inn Wine Bar. A delicious spread of fine food featured Jacksonville Inn chefs, and Pia Skinner’s wine bar team outdid themselves with smiles, hospitality and bending of wrists over beckoning wine glasses. The event bubbled over with holiday spirit.

Ten local wineries donated wine for the night, with about 75 guests attending. Frivolity for the evening was filled by Outta The Booth, a photo booth providing jovial hats, wigs and silly signs. For me, it was difficult to choose between a Viking helmet or sea captain’s hat.

The night was special. Although the din of conversation and laughter made it difficult to hear the lovely guitar of Greta Gardiner, I was able to find a seat close and listen. My chair provided a view of the interior party, along with the exterior view of California Street in downtown Jacksonville.

The street was bedecked with Christmas lights, flowing traffic and wet pavement, which reflected the holiday lights, again reflected with interior scenes of the party within the Inn’s front windows: Double exposure. It was quite a lovely view of beauty and camaraderie sanctioned by a beverage that creates its own alchemical inner light, best appreciated when shared.

Bradfield, most definitely the shining north star of Southern Oregon’s rise in Women in Wine, spoke eloquently about what was happening at this event: “The increasing number of people at these events shows this community really needs this momentum to expand the opportunities for women in the wine industry. Women exchange cards, whether it’s ‘Hey, I’m a florist; I’m a winemaker; I’m a photographer; I work in media,’ all of these opportunities are for us to connect. We all come together because we love and are interested in the same things.

“We’re passionate about empowering women. So, really, that common ground and the connectivity Women in Wine spaces provide is just so powerful.”

Elaborating further she says, “This industry is for everyone. So we have the opportunity to share our voice, and our voice is stronger and louder when we’re all sharing in it — shouting it from the mountaintops. To all the women and men participating in Women in Wine events, whether wine industry or wine lover, thank you and keep showing up.

“Let’s raise a glass and have a toast.”

Reach Paula Bandy at pbthegrapevine@gmail.com and connect with her on Instagram at @pbthroughthegrapevine