Although the theme for International Women’s Day this year is #embraceequity, we already do that at Wine and Whiskey Globe, but it’s not about gender! Three-fourths of our regular writers are women because they’re damn fine writers. So to celebrate the day and Women’s History Month and to honor their commitment to craft, we decided to give a shout-out to some of our most talented contributors.
It was inevitable that Fran Endicott Miller would become a writer- her father was the San Francisco bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, the Sacramento Bureau chief for both the Los Angeles Times and the Sacramento Bee, and was nominated several times for the Pulitzer Prize. Growing up in that environment, Fran became an English major at the University of California, Davis, and began freelancing for local newspapers while she raised her two sons. She now lives in Lafayette, CA, less than an hour from Napa Valley.
“When the nest emptied,” Fran says, “I kicked it up a notch and started a travel column in one of these local papers. Things took off from there. I”d been covering wineries for Napa Valley Life Magazine for several years, but when Covid hit, and all my travel gigs were canceled in 2020, I went all-in on wine and spirits. It was a great distraction, that particular challenging year. I got to know my UPS and FedEx delivery persons well!” Fran still sees herself as primarily a travel writer who loves combining travel and wine; She’s currently looking forward to a trip to Trentino, Italy, soon to research sparkling wines.
Fran also claims to make a good Old Fashioned. She adds, “my trick is maple syrup.”
Does she think there are enough women in the drinks business?
“As far as wine is concerned, yes! Karen MacNeil of The Wine Bible and Esther Mobley and Jess Lander at the San Francisco Chronicle are my local experts,” she replied.
Much like her fellow WWG contributor, Amy Lynch owes her expertise in bourbon to a good Old Fashioned. But her writing career started long before her bourbon interest. After earning a double-major degree in English and journalism from Indiana University, Amy started working as a copywriter and has been a freelance writer for over twenty years.
“I LOVE the flexible schedule and being my own boss,” she says. “I don’t think I could go back to an office job at this point. My writing niche is really Midwestern food and travel, which led me to bourbon during a scouting assignment in Kentucky about 15 years ago. From my very first Old Fashioned sip at Bourbons Bistro in Louisville, I was hooked, and have only fallen deeper in love with the history and cachet of the spirit in the years that have followed.”
Amy lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with her teenage son, who she describes as her favorite travel companion.
“My son and I both love to cook, so you can often find us discussing what we”re going to make for dinner or actually in the kitchen together whipping up something tasty. I”m also a bit of a fitness buff/gym rat and a bookworm.”
And are women fairly represented in the drinks industry?
“I’m a member of the Bourbon Women”s Association,” Amy says, “and I think women are definitely making their presence more known and felt across the spirits industry, but outdated stereotypes do linger. I was at a tasting event last fall, and a whiskey newbie at my table kept deferring to the man seated next to me for his input and opinions, completely dismissing any impressions or comments I had to offer. It’s irritating when people assume I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to bourbon. I love surprising them and proving them wrong!”
Carolyn Sellar, who runs the Adventures in Whiskey website and business, agrees that things are improving for women in the spirits business.
“The last decade has been incredible,” she states, “and we have seen a lot more women in the spirits industry. I hope we keep seeing this increase of women in all levels of the industry and continue to add more diversity to help give different perspectives. We need to see all the different types of consumers represented in the love of all these wonderful whiskies and spirits!”
Carolyn knows what she’s talking about. Besides running the website, she organizes events and is a branding consultant and certified educator. She also leads whiskey-tasting masterclasses and judges both regional and national whiskey, spirits, and cocktail competitions. Surprisingly, she’s only been writing about spirits for a year.
“I’ve been more involved with public speaking,” she explains, “and captivating audiences with my verbal storytelling. Until recently, I had not realized how much I loved writing and sharing my thoughts in publications.”
Many of Carolyn’s activities focus on the Pacific Northwest, where she lives in Seattle, Washington. She moved there from Hawaii to attend the University of Washington and loved the city so much that she never left.
Kristen Schott has been a magazine editor on both coasts and now lives in Alexandria, Virginia. From here, she serves as the Deputy Editor of Lifestyles and Weddings at Philadelphia Magazine, which involves regular trips to Philadelphia. Her work has also appeared in such prestigious publications as Brides, Condé Nast Traveler, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.
“I began writing professionally 16 years ago,” Kristen says. “I was fresh out of college with an English degree and landed a gig at a former business magazine in Orange County, California. Thanks to the guidance of my then-editor, I transformed from a neophyte writer into an established journalist. Along the way, I’ve earned a double master”s in English and creative writing and worked at various publications.”
It was living in Orange County that prompted her interest in wine.
“My husband and I often took weekend trips to Santa Barbara, where we discovered the wonderful wine world of the Santa Ynez Valley. The passion of these folks and the quality of the wine inspired me, but I didn’t have much of an outlet aside from quick mentions in travel stories. It wasn’t until I began with Wine and Whiskey Globe in 2020 that I really began taking on more wine writing, which gave me the experience I needed to head up Philadelphia Magazine’s October 2022 Pennsylvania wine feature.”
Like Amy, Kristen describes herself as a gym rat- she likes to keep fit and healthy, despite all the wine tastings.
“Running is my go-to,” she says. “Within running, I’ve found a community of like-minded people who just love to get out and stretch their legs. This year, I’m raising funds for Team for Kids and running the NYC Marathon in November—and I’d happily welcome donations here: https://runwithtfk.org//Profile/PublicPage/104572/60991”
And does Kristen think there are enough women in the beverage business?
Her response? “No, but I think we are making great strides in getting more representation in the industry. One of the regions I consider a champion is Santa Barbara Wine Country, which has a higher than average number of women winemakers and winery owners.”
Like Carolyn, Gillian Gaar lives in the great wine region of the Pacific Northwest, where she writes not just about wine, spirits, and cocktails but about music- especially the history of Rock and Roll. She is a prolific music writer with numerous books to her name, including books about the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, the Doors, and many more. Take a look at her Amazon Author page for a complete list. It’s not surprising she’s written so much- she started young!
“I started writing stories and comic strips when I was a child,” Gillian says, “describing something like a movie or TV show I’d seen. I enjoyed writing about something I experienced, getting information on some interesting topic and passing it along. I see my writing as informative-based; let me tell you about this fascinating subject!”
Just as Fran’s travel writing was her way into wine writing, Gillian began writing about beverages as part of her coverage of things like theater shows and vacations- see her article on Blue Hawaiians. Hawaii is a passion, and regular visits fired her enthusiasm for drinks writing.
“So many different cocktails! And the great histories behind them. And all the variations! It’s a great topic because there are always new developments, new spins on an old classic, new bars opening, and so on.”
And are there enough women in the drinks business?
“No. Most people I’ve interviewed for my stories have been men. But I expect that will change over time.”
Renee Wilmeth is a publishing consultant, book editor, and wine writer. Unfortunately, she is busy with one of her many adventures and was unavailable for comment. You can follow her on Instagram at @feedmedrinkme.
Wine and Whiskey Globe takes great pride in its writers and their incredible dedication to craft. We’ll continue to feature the best and brightest writers we can find- the fact that they’re women is a happy coincidence!