Thursday night’s panel discussion featuring Eileen Crane (Domaine Carneros), Kathy Benziger (Benziger Family Winery), Mia Malm (Icon Estates), Heather Paige (Gundlach Bundschu), and Dr. Liz Thach (Sonoma State University) was a smashing success!

Over a selection of wines from featured wineries and delicious hors d’oeuvres supplied by The Lodge’s own chef, we learned about many new ideas on how to make great grapes and great brands.

This panel of amazing women are a testament to thinking “outside the box” while still staying true and authentic to their brand and their passions….as we learned, not always an easy balance.

Eileen Crane told us how she “made a wrong turn at Grand Central Station one day, and ended up at Davis” and how no matter what certain people or naysayers may say to us, we should always forge ahead with our passions. Even after 1 or 2 other careers!

Kathy Benziger told us about growing up in the suburbs of NYC (which I personally loved since I’m also a New York escapee), and then growing up in the vineyards of Sonoma when her father relocated them to CA. With 16 nieces and nephews she’s pretty hopeful that Benziger will continue on to the next generation! Although I found a statement she made very, very intriguing…that something like 97% of family businesses fail in the third generation.

So feed those kids sippy cups of wine and get them started early on the road to winemaking!

All in all, a wonderful and warm evening of great stories, networking, delicious food and wine…the perfect WWS night.