The wine industry is one of a number of professions where women hold disproportionately fewer seats at the table than men. While every aspect of this business remains a male dominated environment, the culture is slowly changing. In company ownership, vineyard management and winemaking, women are slowly assuming more leadership roles and having great success in the process. In this series of articles, I would like to showcase a few examples of women who are making their mark in the wine world.
The beginning of this decade will be forever remembered as the years of the great pandemic: the fourteen months when the world took a time-out; face-to-face commerce practically came to a standstill and for many of us telecommuting became the norm. And while the world is slowly emerging from the shadow of COVID certain aspects of how people do business; how we interact with others has been forever transformed. It is within this altered landscape that this month’s subject of the ‘Women in Wine’ series is truly making her mark.
Haley Moore got her start in the hospitality industry at the tender age of fifteen. From this first job waiting tables, Haley recognized that she enjoyed the personal interaction found in the restaurant setting. During the course of these early years, she developed an interest and appreciation for wine as an integral component of a meal. Moore steadily gained knowledge and experience, earning her certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers’ and in her mid-twenties worked as a sommelier in two of the premier wine-centric restaurants in San Francisco. From there, Haley took over the beverage program for the Stock and Bones Restaurant Group, managing the wine program for five fine dining restaurants in the Bay area and Portland, Oregon.
Haley started her own business; Acquire in 2013, with the intention of assisting private clients with their in-home wine cellars. Haley ran the business part-time, while retaining her managerial position at Stock & Bones. In January 2020, Moore stepped out on her own as a full-time consultant, developing wine programs for restaurants around the country, but little did she know that this was to be a bad time to spring into this endeavor. The COVID pandemic shuttered all of the restaurants that she had been working with, so Haley turned to virtual wine tastings as what she described as “a Band-Aid, a quick fix to this new-found problem, although it actually turned out to be a transformative experience that led to structuring an entire business model on utilizing technology to deliver hospitality.”
Acquire now hosts virtual wine events, shipping half bottles of wine along with cheese, caviar and charcuterie platters to each of the event guests. The events themselves are conducted on Zoom and LexGo - a newer virtual platform. Many of these events are hosted for corporate clients, plus a number of customers that she had developed relationships with from her time on the restaurant floors.
Haley quickly learned that she “didn’t need the four walls of a restaurant in order to deliver hospitality and to make people feel amazing and connected.” She has discovered that there are a lot of parallels between fine dining and what Acquire offers. The successful facilitation these virtual events revolve around creating an online environment where the guests can engage one another, as opposed to a webinar format where the presenter does most of the talking. It is this focus on human interaction that makes Acquire’s virtual tastings stand out from other similar online wine activities. Most of these events are customized and based on the interests of the client; usually wine-centric in nature, with fifteen to twenty people in attendance. Acquire has conducted cooking courses online as well, with the presentation element conducted by a Michelin star chef and the participants shipped ingredient kits beforehand.
Moore said that the vision and direction of Acquire continues to evolve with the majority of the focus split evenly between virtual events and wine consultation / sales to private clients. That being said, she believes that the online virtual activities will be the future of her business and as the software platforms continue to improve these events will only get better. To date, Acquire has conducted virtual events serving over 5,000 guests in all fifty states and in twenty countries. Haley’s focus will always remain “enriching people’s lives by bringing them the best experience possible.”
After my conversation with Haley, it became clear that the model that she is using has significant advantages for the consumer in that it leverages technology to deliver hospitality in an efficient and cost-effective manner. The use of the Internet has expanded from online commerce and social media platforms to a virtual environment where individuals skilled at interpersonal communication with subject matter expertise can bring people together to socialize and learn. To learn more about Haley, her team and the services that they provide go to their website at acquire-wine.com.
Tom Oetinger holds an advanced certification in wine and spirits from the WSET in London, England. He is available to assist you with your wine events or answer your wine questions. Contact Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org