Raise a Glass to The Unstoppable Women of Temecula Valley Wine Country
Temecula Valley is home to delicious wines, gorgeous vineyard views, welcoming tasting rooms, and an exciting Wine Country culinary scene. It’s also home to some absolutely inspiring women who, day in and day out, through their work in the vineyards, cellars, tasting rooms, and behind-the-scenes offices, leave their indelible marks on the bottles that grace our tables, and the experiences that go with them.
In celebration of Women’s History Month this March, as well as International Women’s Day on March 8, we want to recognize some of the amazing women in Temecula wine. We encourage you to get to know them, raise a glass to them, and, if you find yourself in Temecula Valley, come meet them in person.
Seabren Graebner, Tasting Room Manager, Peltzer Winery
Having worked at a handful of Temecula wineries for over 13 years, Seabren has had the privilege to see our beautiful valley expand and grow into what it is today. “I been fortunate to have had incredible female role models that have paved the way for me in the industry, igniting my passion for hospitality and all things Temecula Valley,” she says. “As a mom of 3, I strive to put my family first, while also pouring my heart into managing the Crush House (Tasting Room) at Peltzer Winery. I am thankful for the strong team both at work and at home that makes that possible. I hope to be an example by providing support and encouragement to women currently in or entering the industry.”
Sonya Ball, Director of Finance at Mount Palomar Winery
Sonya’s career over the last 30 years has been in finance, helping small businesses discover and build on their strengths. She’s been directly involved in the wine industry for over 14 years. As a single mom, raising two boys and working full time, she realized her true passion is in working with people, especially women, helping and empowering them to be the best version of themselves. She is also excited to be involved in the development and reorganization of the operations, and ultimately see the Mount Palomar Winery team and business flourish and thrive. “Historically the wine industry has been a male dominated field, but that is slowly changing,” she says. “Now we are seeing women winemakers, winery owners, and more women filling the upper management roles. At MPW I encourage our team to believe in themselves, to not give up. Here they are given an opportunity to show their full potential and achieve success.”
Abby Trybulski, Guest Relations Manager, Peltzer Winery
Abby’s extensive hotel background has led her to a strong career and passion for the hospitality industry. As the Guest Relations Manager at Peltzer Winery, she has an unwavering sense of responsibility to teach and inspire others to make guests feel at home, or to turn a “stranger” into a friend from their first interaction. She believes these relationships can last a lifetime, crediting her experience as well as her motivational and creative leadership style to build to higher sales and a true loyal guest base. “I am blessed to work at Peltzer where there is a culture that supports work-life balance,” she says. “However, by allowing me the support to coach and mentor, we find things to accomplish together. We celebrate our peers and our company’s successes large and small without any jealousy or competition.”
Taylor Israelsen, Executive Chef, Avensole Winery
Born in Southern California, Chef Taylor found her passion for food through her health and fitness journey, where studying nutrition allowed her to be creative with fresh ingredients. For the past five years, she has been a Chef at Avensole Winery, combining her classic French training and love for fresh, natural ingredients to create an enticing and creative menu. Taylor finds it essential to cultivate a rewarding work environment for the kitchen staff and allow team growth opportunities. “I champion an environment of inclusivity,” she says. “I always work to support my female colleagues to strive toward bettering themselves, moving up through the ranks, and ensuring that they face no barriers on their way to achieving their goals.”
Avensole is now an entirely women-owned and managed winery in Temecula Valley.
Olivia Bue, Winemaker, Robert Renzoni Vineyards
After graduating from UC Davis with a Viticulture and Enology degree, this SoCal native began broadening her experience at several wineries including two family-run operations: Mollydooker in McLaren Vale, South Australia, and Cakebread Cellars in Napa Valley. These experiences underscored her desire to work at a high-quality and family-run operation. She ultimately moved to Temecula Valley to be closer to her Southern Californian family, finally landing at Robert Renzoni, where she has been for the past eight years.
“I know many talented woman winemakers with their own personal labels as well as women running wine production facilities, some of whom I went to school with at UC Davis,” she says. “Supporting their product by sending friends to their tasting room as well as stocking my wine fridge with their new releases are ways I show my love and support. I also enjoy exposing and educating our tasting room staff about the winemaking process. This exposure gives them more confidence in the tasting room when they’re conversing with customers, and it also makes them more comfortable asking me questions about winemaking. We all share a similar passion so it’s gratifying when we get to come together!”
Kristina Filippi, Assistant Winemaker, Wilson Creek Winery
A lifelong resident of Southern California, Kristina Filippi grew up in the cradle of California’s wine-growing origins, the Cucamonga Valley. In fact, Kristina’s family has viticultural roots in Southern California related to the San Gabriel Valley that reach back to 1784. While attending college, Kristina was hired to work in the winery tasting room at Joseph Filippi Winery in Rancho Cucamonga. In 2008, she was invited by the Filippi family to learn the winemaking process from the ground up, training with enologist Tish Cooper and consultants Dr. Fred S. Nury, Emeritus Professor of Enology and Food Science at Cal State University Fresno, as well as retired winemaker and vintner Rene Biane.
She moved to Temecula in 2019 with hopes of getting in touch with those roots by learning more about the viticultural side of winemaking. Prior to joining Wilson Creek, she spent two years working in and managing vineyards in Temecula. “As a mother of two girls, and a woman working in a primarily male-dominated industry, I believe that the best action I can take to support and elevate women on a day-to-day basis is to make sure that I am striving to show up as a genuine and authentic person myself every day,” she says. “For me this means leading with clear, honest and compassionate communication, being open to reciprocal sharing of suggestions and ideas, speaking up when I see a problem, and being open to positive feedback as well as criticism. My hope is that by living and working in this manner I can help to foster an environment that empowers other women (and men for that matter) to feel comfortable to do the same, while offering encouragement in growing their own knowledge and experience in the wine industry as we all look forward to achieving and celebrating our individual and collective goals.”
Heidi Baker, Visuals and Merchandise Manager, Peltzer Winery
Heidi describes herself as “more of a guy’s girl than a girl’s girl,” and celebrates being surrounded by a variety of colleagues who share the same approach to “ruling the roost.”
“We find ourselves progressively working together as a cohesive herd,” she explains, continuing the farming analogy so fitting at Peltzer. “I bring old school to the plate with a slight chance of wisdom to pass along. They teach me new things, which helps me to grow and to not become stale. The end result may be taken different ways, but we all end up finishing together. As they say, ‘Teamwork makes the Dream work.’”
Nadia Urquidez, Assistant Winemaker, Doffo Winery
Hailing from a small town near Ensenada, Mexico, Nadia Urquidez earned a B.S. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and a specialty degree in Oenology and Viticulture and has now worked with Doffo Winery for nearly eight years. Nadia is passionate about chemistry and brings a scientific approach to the Doffo winemaking team and has been instrumental in the creation of many award-winning and highly-rated wines.
“I am surrounded by amazing women,” she says. “I always try to encourage all the positive things they want to do, even if it is a small thought. I feel flattered when they ask me for advice. It doesn’t matter if it is personal or professional, I try to be there for them.”
Gabby Connelly, Director of Weddings and Events, Peltzer Winery
When this New Hampshire native and Navy Veteran isn’t busy planning the perfect day for couples deciding to tie the knot in Wine Country, she loves to spend her time outdoors hiking or snowboarding. “Things I do in my everyday life to support women is help manage a women’s military group, being a pioneering member of a women’s snowboarding and skiing group, planning and leading women’s outdoor excursions for snowboarding/skiing and constantly encouraging the strong women in my life whether they’re my co-workers or friends,” she says “Women are strong and deserve to be encouraged every day to be their best possible selves!”
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