Lydia is a Certified Sommelier from the Sommelier Society of America and holds the WSET Level 3 Advanced Certification; currently a WSET Level 4 Diploma student. Originally from Panama, Lydia’s love affair with wine began while living in Paris and having the opportunity to travel to multiple French wine regions. After moving to New York, she worked in Marketing and PR for multiple industries before pursuing her dream of becoming a wine evangelist. Lydia worked as a Marketing Manager for the Wine Cellarage, a fine wine online retailer, and currently works at Colangelo & Partners, an integrated communications agency focusing on wine, food and spirits, working with their Spanish, South American, and Italian accounts. A true wine geek, her expertise is frequently featured in renowned national, and international, wine trade, and consumer-oriented publications.
1. How did you get into the wine business?
Since very little, I had an appreciation for wine thanks to my mom and my aunts. The real OG wine lovers in my book, they would sit around and drink wines, for hours on end, and I remember always finding it fascinating that it would revolve around a bottle (or two) of wine.
That being said, my real love for wine began after graduating from college and living in Paris for a few months to learn the language. Living with one of my closest friends, who was French and a real wine connoisseur, really opened my eyes to the different French wine regions, styles, and the culture behind it. From then on I was hooked.
After moving to New York, I worked in Marketing and PR in the fashion industry, but always kept coming to wine. I took wine and food pairing classes after work, and slowly but surely, it started taking over my life. About 5 years ago, I decided to fully commit, take sommelier lessons, and make the career change. I created my private wine education and events company, Vino Concierge, in 2017 and currently, I also work with Colangelo & Partners, an integrated communications agency focusing on wine, food, and spirits, working with their Spanish and South American accounts.
2. What are the most frustrating and rewarding parts of your job?
One of the things I love about wine is its rich history, diversity, and how it brings people together. There’s just something so beautiful about tasting a glass of wine and through your palate, exploring where, how, and why it’s done that way.
The flip side of that coin is how the industry could be more inclusive in terms of gender and racial diversity. Wine is produced all throughout the world, with an identity so deeply rooted in storytelling, and that needs to be reflected in the people that are in the forefront of it.
Most rewarding part? The people! Coworkers, guests, vendors, sales reps, wine producers—this is the best part of the job. You get to know so many different people and everyone teaches you something. I have been able to get to know so many and I have developed so many great friendships over the years.
3. What is your most memorable wine experience?
Experiencing Tuscany through the eyes of one of the oldest winemaking families, Frescobaldi Toscana! That was certainly a one-of-a-kind press trip.
4. What is an upcoming trend you see in wine?
I think the convergence between commerce and brand marketing/communications will not be going anywhere. With more opportunities and channels to reach and sell directly to consumers, brands can build relationships and share their messaging directly with their target audiences, whether they be trade audiences, or wine and spirits lovers. This is a big opportunity for brand producers, marketers and companies, as well as wine marketing institutions that should not go unnoticed.
5. What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
Network, network, network! Take advantage of every opportunity you can get to interact with people already working in the industry you are looking to be a part of.
6. What is one tip you have for someone just getting into wine?
Whether you are fresh out of college or looking to make a career change, your existing background, knowledge, and skills are valuable, and leverage it as you are trying to enter this industry. At the end of the day, wine is a business and people are needed in multiple sides of it: sales, hospitality, marketing, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask established people in the industry to be your mentor and/or give you advice; the worst they can do is say no and if they do, ask someone else.
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