The Women’s Wine Guild of Colorado (WWGCO) is all about empowering and supporting women who are already in or aspire to be a part of our state’s food, wine, and hospitality industries. The nonprofit’s ultimate goal? Achieve gender equality by helping more women join and obtain leadership roles in traditionally male-dominated fields. 

“When I can just say ‘winemaker’ and in your head…you would think that there was either a 50-50 chance that was a male or female, that’s true equality, right?” says Sarah Shomaker, a founder of two-year-old WWGCO. “We are so far away from that.”

Case-in-point: About 10 percent of the state’s wineries have women as head winemakers, according to a rough estimate by the Colorado Wine Industry Development Board.

In an effort to help narrow the gap, WWGCO is launching next week a free, nine-day online education forum, September 21–October 3, designed to propel women forward in their professions and break boys’ club barriers.  

With keynote speeches from sommelier, chef, and founder of Diversity in Wine and Spirits Lia Jones and 5280’s food editor Denise Mickelsen—plus a line-up of Zoom workshops and conversations, Instagram Live interviews, and even a virtual therapy happy hour for moms—participants will gain connection to community, insight into the local food and beverage industry, and career-advancing skills. Think: resume-writing and job-interviewing best practices, advice on mentoring other women, and guidance on applying for a small business loan. 

Other highlights include a tutorial on writing a business plan; a conversation about job pathing and career goals for wine sales; and a discussion comparing two common wine education paths, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust versus the Court of Master Sommeliers. 

Shomaker, a regional sales director at Denver-based Volio Imports, acknowledges that “people are Zoomed out” these days. But her hope, she says, is that the programming is dynamic and relevant enough that folks will find it worthwhile to tune in. And although the forum primarily targets women, anyone is invited to join, she adds. “We are happy to welcome all.”

Schedule for the 2020 Women’s Wine Guild of Colorado Education Forum: 

Monday, September 21, 9–10 a.m.
“Job Pathing & Whole-Body Care” with Kayla Nelson, holistic life coach and founder of
Sage Nourishment (Instagram Live)

Tuesday, September 22, 1–2 p.m.
“Navigating Guild Somm” (WWGCO member-only event on Zoom; learn more about membership here.) 

Wednesday, September 23, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
“Writing a Small Business Plan” with Nicole Mattson, owner of Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club and Noble Riot, professor at the University of Denver Hospitality School (Zoom)

Thursday September 24, 9–10 a.m.
“Job Pathing & Career Goals for Wine Sales” with Holly Wing, sales manager at De Maison Selections (Instagram Live)

Thursday, September 24, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
“A Day in the Life of a Food Editor” with keynote speaker Denise Mickelsen, Food Editor at 5280 magazine (Zoom)

Friday, September 25, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
“Workshop on Resume Writing & Interviewing Magic” with Kat Short, founder of Tell Your Damn Story (Zoom)

Monday September 28, 5–6 p.m.
“Education Paths: Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) vs. The Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS)” with Zachary Byers, sommelier at Beckon Denver and Advanced Sommelier CMS, and Tony Zezas, creative director of All Things Lovely at the Harvest Wine Company and WSET diploma candidate (Zoom)

Wednesday September 30, 9–10 a.m.
“Applying for a Small Business Loan” with Heather Wiles McCoy, vice president at MidFirst Bank (Zoom)

Thursday October 1, 5:30–6:30 p.m.
“Therapy Happy Hour for Moms (and anyone that needs some self-love)” by Nelson. Event is donation-based and benefits local non-profit WeeCycle. (Zoom)

Friday October 2, 9–10 a.m.
“Negotiating for What You’re Worth & How to be a Mentor to Other Women in the Business” with Dawn M. Gaudini, regional manager/marketing and education director at Dalla Terra Winery and Karen Rasmussen, sales representative at Classic Beverage Company, owner of The Casual Somm, and WWGCO board member (Instagram Live)

Friday October 2, 5–6 p.m.
“Boot Camp: How to be a Leader of Change” with keynote speaker Lia Jones, founder of Diversity in Wine and Spirits, chef, sommelier, diversity and inclusion specialist, Wine Enthusiast “40 under 40 Tastemaker of 2020” (Zoom)

Visit to register for events and learn more. Questions? Email