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March 3, 2021

Stirring up the Conversation w/ Katie Canfield and Rebecca Johnson, The Bâtonnage Forum

Stirring up the Conversation w/ Katie Canfield and Rebecca Johnson, The Bâtonnage Forum

Bâtonnage, the French word for stirring the lees, is now about stirring up the conversation about women and wine. The Bâtonnage Forum, founded in 2018, is creating a safe space to have difficult conversations about gender inclusivity in the wine world.


Bâtonnage, the French word for stirring the lees, is now about stirring up the conversation about women and wine.  The Bâtonnage Forum, founded in 2018, is creating a safe space to have difficult conversations about gender inclusivity in the wine world.  Katie Canfield and Rebecca Johnson, partners at wine PR agency O’Donnell Lane, are currently carrying the baton for the forum.  They tell XChateau about transitioning the forum to virtual, launching a mentorship program, and filing for 501c3 status.  

This episode is sponsored by Repour, the simple, effective way to preserve your wine...without planning ahead.  Extensively used by top sommeliers, wineries, and wine students, Repour prevents wasted wine and saves money.  Find out more at repour.com and listen to Episode 24, where CEO Tom Lutz gives us all the details on Repour.  

Detailed Show Notes

  • The mission of The Bâtonnage Forum - to open up the conversation about women and wine and create a safe space to have difficult conversations
  • Founded in 2018 by Stevie Stacionis and Sarah Bray
  • Set up to “pass the baton” every two years
    • Katie and Rebecca are the lead organizers for 2020 and 2021
    • This brings in new ideas and changes to the organization
  • The Bâtonnage Forum has transformed from 1 day in Napa to a robust, active community from all sectors of the wine industry
    • The broad focus is a unique selling point
    • It’s a platform for education and engagement
    • They have gotten lots of positive, direct feedback (thank yous, emails, volunteers who want to be involved) 
  • The Forum
    • 1st two forums held in Napa
    • Went from 1 day to multi-day, multi-session virtual forum, expanding the audience to all of North America and some global participants
    • 2021 - will be 3 days at the end of June
  • The issue
    • Only ~30-40% of wine businesses are women-owned
    • Only 14% of CA wineries have female head winemakers, though this has improved some
    • The Sommelier industry has meager female participation
    • #metoo movement has been helpful
  • How to Help
    • Step 1 - acknowledge and recognize the issue, join the conversation, including at the Bâtonnage Forum
    • Step 2 - improve HR and hiring practices
    • Step 3 - mentoring (spread the word about the mentorship opportunities to potential mentees), education (including WSET, MW, etc.…), and shaking up the conversation
    • Donations (currently filing for 501c3 status)
  • 2020 accomplishments
    • Pivoted in-person forum (was planning to be at Sonoma Broadway Farms) to virtual due to Covid with 10 sessions, 35 speakers, and 20 winemakers and chefs for a virtual walk-around tasting
  • 2021 Initiatives
  • Actively collaborates with other gender and under-represented inclusion groups
  • How we’ll know when we’re “there” - when there’s no longer a place for diversity committees in organizations
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