For our 2022 Women In Wine series, we’re shining the spotlight on incredible females in B.C.’s wine industry—like Calli Bailey, assistant winemaker, at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery in West Kelowna. —Noa Nichol
Hi Calli! Why and how did you become a winemaker, and when did you join Mission Hill Family Estate?
After I graduated from UBC in food science I had trouble landing a job in my field. I had spent many years in the farm industry, as well working summers at different tasting bars around the Okanagan. With a little encouragement from my mom I went back to school for oenology and viticulture to pursue winemaking, and began working in cellars in the Okanagan and abroad. I have worked for Mission Hill Family Estate for just over a year.
What does your day-to-day making wine at Mission Hill Family Estate look like?
It begins with a tour through the cellars to see what the status of work is at, followed by a tasting with the other winemakers. From there we make most of the decisions on the wine direction. Each of us have our specific areas of focus, but all decisions are made in a collaborative effort as a team.
March 8 is International Women’s Day—a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. In this context, when you hear the term “women in wine” what does it mean to you?
It makes me think of the strong women I know in the industry. I have had the privilege of working with some incredible women and I would say some of the key defining characteristics of being a “woman in wine” is having confidence in themselves and pride in their work.
Are there any special challenges, or benefits, to being a woman in wine?
I think being a women in the wine industry allows me to have a different perspective. At the beginning of my career, I had some experiences with sexism, which was discouraging in the moment. As women we may not always be as physically strong as men; however, this forces us to work with more ingenuity.
How do you maintain a work-life balance, especially during peak winemaking season?
It can be difficult managing a work-life balance in this industry. Outside of harvest I try to connect with friends and family as much as possible because, once harvest hits, it is all consuming. Eat, sleep, work, repeat.
In your opinion, what is the perfect Mission Hill Family Estate wine with which to raise a glass to women on March 8?
I have been really enjoying our Reserve Rose this year. Amazing watermelon and strawberry aromas with a textural finish.