Karen BirminghamWinemaker

6 months ago

Hello Angel’s - Today is International Women’s day and I wanted to take this opportunity to write about my dear friend and mentor, Toni Sickles. I’ve always felt very lucky that my path crossed with Toni’s as I was starting my winemaking career. She was the Senior Winemaker at Robert Mondavi Woodbridge when I was starting out as an Assistant Enologist almost two decades ago. Toni had a huge personality, always spoke her mind, and was passionate about everything she did, particularly making wine. She taught me how to blend wine, the creative part of winemaking that you can only learn through experience. She showed me how find those different varieties that make a blend more complex, that blending 1% of a unique wine into your blend can make a big difference, and to always explore all you options when working on a wine to make it the very best it can be.
Toni passed away almost 10 years ago after a long battle with breast cancer. I frequently think of Toni as I’m making my wines….from harvest through bottling, and I still draw on her advice and teaching when I’m faced with a challenge. I encourage all young people, both women and men to find a mentor as they start their careers in winemaking or any other industry. A mentor will guide you in the right path and will give you the confidence to be successful in your career. Tonight I will have a glass of Zinfandel and toast Toni. Cheers! Karen

12 replies... (latest reply 6 months ago)
Angel

Karen, what a lovely tribute to a mentor and beloved friend. I will toast both you and Toni tonight! May you always have her guidance and love surrounding you!

6 months ago

Angel

Toni sounds like she was a wonderful lady, and an even better friend. Sorry for your loss (our loss as well). I too will drink a toast to her tonight.

6 months ago

Angel

I will lift a glass of your 2014 Reserve Zin Lodi tonight, Karen. To Toni. 🍷

6 months ago

Angel

I believe you are following in Toni's footsteps - I enjoy all your wines.

6 months ago

Angel

A wonderful tribute. As a woman dealing with metastatic breast cancer it's nice to see that BC didn't define her you but her friendship,and mentoring did.

6 months ago

Archangel

Karen, you are so correct. A good mentor makes all the difference. I lift a glass to Toni, to You, and to all women on International Womens Day. Never short yourself on all of the power you actually have. Cheers🍷

6 months ago

Angel

I couldn't agree with you more. The passion that individuals put into their craft can only be absorbed by way of personal relationships. You are very fortunate to have a wonderful person like Toni to show you the paths she had traveled. Absolutely worthy of a toast!

6 months ago

Archangel

How wonderful to have had her in your life!

6 months ago

Angel

Nice. G8 to have mentor like that.

6 months ago

Angel

WOW ... what a tribute! Cheers to Toni and I'll have a sip tonight!

6 months ago

Angel

What a beautiful post Karen. Thanks for sharing. I am inspired by Toni. And you! Cheers!

6 months ago

Archangel

Karen you brought a tear to my eye. Not of sadness but of hope and joy. Toni lives on in every sip we drink because you bring her to every bottle. I am honored that you told us about your mentor and that we can taste a little bit of her in every bottle you bring to us. No wonder your wines are so fantastic.

6 months ago

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