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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
The 25th annual Santa Barbara Vintners Celebration of Harvest Festival this past weekend included a seminar featuring six winemakers. Laura Roach, Denise Shurtleff, Kathy Joseph, Gabe Saglie, Tara Gomez, Sonja Magdevski, Erika Maldonado

It was an opportunity for them to share their stories and talk about their wine in front of an audience of wine enthusiasts. One of the unique aspects of this seminar was that all six winemakers were women. It is not uncommon to find female winemakers in California. But, according to a 2015 survey from Santa Clara University, the reality is that out of 3,400-plus wineries in California, only 10 percent of lead winemakers are female.

Santa Barbara County is a relatively small wine region with 27,000 acres planted to grapes. It is home to 199 wineries which, on average, produce fewer than 5,000 cases each. Of these 199 wineries, at least 20 are run by women. Each one of these winemakers has a story to tell and had a wine to share.

This story originally appeared in Wine Industry Network Advisor. Running a wine association takes a tireless multi-tasker. The job is a combination of strategy, business development, marketing, finance and politics. It takes understanding the needs of the association, as well as the community as a whole. It is about managing the desires of a diverse group, from large producers to small producers. morgenprofilepicture2 Morgen McLaughlin knows this all too well. She has spent time on both coasts running wine associations, first working with the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association in Upstate New York and now on the west coast as the Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Vintners Association. McLaughlin was raised in Connecticut, not exactly in wine country. But, in 1978, when she was six years old, her parents started a winery and vineyard on the family property. With a farm on the property, a winery was a value add to their lifestyle. From that point on, she grew up riding tractors and working harvest and all associated wine activities. In response, McLaughlin had no interest in working in the wine industry. “I wanted to do the opposite,” she explained. “I wanted to get off the farm and get away from family so I went to school in Boston and studied to be high school English teacher.”