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New nonprofit mentors women in wine, spirits industry

By   /   Friday, August 24th, 2018  /   Comments Off on New nonprofit mentors women in wine, spirits industry

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The nonprofit Dream Big Darling has been launched in Paso Robles wine country with the goal of providing mentorship, education and professional support for women in the wine and spirits industry.

“We are trying to help the next generation dream bigger and show them what the possibilities are,” said Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins, vice president of operations at Ancient Peaks Winery and founder of Dream Big Darling, in a news release. “Through personal mentorship and professional development, we want to make a difference in the lives of women who are aspiring toward long-term careers in our industry.”

It will be hosting an inaugural dinner, auction and concert Oct. 19 at Oyster Ridge on the Santa Margarita Ranch to raise funds for its 2019 events and retreat. Women from Alta Colina Vineyard and Winery, Ancient Peaks Winery, Clesi Wines, DAOU Vineyards & Winery, Epoch Estate Wines, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines and Ranchero Cellars will host the event.

The nonprofit’s leadership team includes veterans in the wine and spirits industry; on the board of directors are Wittstrom-Higgins; Stacie Jacob, founder and chief strategist at Solterra Strategies; and Meredith Dillon, kinesiology professor at College of The Desert.

A primary focus for the new nonprofit is an annual professional development retreat, which will feature guest speakers, workshops and networking and is slated to take place in fall 2019 at Oyster Ridge.

Dream Big Darling is also providing five full-ride scholarships to the next Wine Speak 2019 trade event in Paso Robles in January, according to the release. These scholarships will include access to all Wine Speak events as well as lodging, and prospective applicants can apply online at

“My grandmother always used to say to me, ‘Dream big, my darling,’” Wittstrom-Higgins said. “I took that advice to heart, and later developed my own passion for mentoring young women. This inspired me to start Dream Big Darling in partnership with some of the most accomplished and talented women in the industry. All of us at Dream Big Darling have been personally impacted by caring mentors, and we now want to pay it forward. If you share our passion, we would love for you to join us.”

• Contact Annabelle Blair at

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