Lexi Stephens is on a mission to make wine less intimidating and more inclusive for all. While her passion for wine started in college, she has brought it to a new level by becoming a sommelier and starting her own blog and wine-tasting business.
“My favorite thing about wine is how it brings people together,” Stephens said. “I aim to make the wine community a less intimidating and more approachable place for anyone who wants to learn about wine.”
We spoke with Stephens about her career journey and her advice for others who want to pursue a career in the wine industry.
How did you end up in the wine industry and as a sommelier?
After falling in love with wine in the heart of Tuscany during a semester abroad, I realized the beverage fit right in with my other two passions, food and travel, so I became a full-time wine enthusiast. I started my career in the global wine marketing world and eventually made my way into wine sales, and later consulted and built wine programs for some top Los Angeles restaurants.
In addition to experience on many sides of the industry, I also completed my WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) education through Level 3 and passed with distinction.
Along the way, I discovered my love for education; more specifically, my passion for teaching people about wine. Wine is my life and I love helping people learn more about it!
I started my virtual wine-tasting business during the pandemic and have grown it into a welcoming community of people who just want to drink wine and learn together. I have now expanded my services into leading in-person wine tastings, and I run a wine club that highlights boutique California wineries and connects winemakers to consumers.
You’ve started Lexi’s Wine List; where people can book in person and do virtual tastings with you, be a part of a wine-tasting club, and explore the blog. What does sharing your love of wine mean to you?
My favorite thing about wine is how it brings people together. I aim to make the wine community a less intimidating and more approachable place for anyone who wants to learn about wine. I also love supporting local wineries and helping people feel more confident talking about wine and choosing bottles they love.
What, ideally, would you like experiencing wine to mean to others?
I hope others can experience wine in a way that makes them feel joy. Wine is transportative; it can bring back happy memories, or take you somewhere you hope to go some day.
What advice do you have for women who have never considered their interest in wine as a hobby or passion they were able to explore?
Follow your dreams, despite your doubts. There is SO much to learn and discover about wine. Wine ties into so many things — people, food, travel, history, and more. Just start exploring the industry through these different lenses and see where your passion lies. Once you start, it’ll be hard to slow down.
What do you wish people understood about making a career out of being in the wine industry?
You can do anything you set your mind to! There are so many different career paths you can take in the wine industry — the options are endless. While there are obstacles, I hope to make the industry a less intimidating space and help everyone feel welcome to start their journey.
Do you have any advice for women who want to get into the wine industry professionally?
Unfortunately, the wine industry is historically an exclusive men’s club that is hard to break into, especially if you’re a young woman. But it is becoming easier as many of us are helping to change this and make it a more inclusive community. If you face any challenges like this, just keep going and don’t start to doubt yourself. You got this. Connecting with other women in the industry and uplifting each other is also a huge help!
What do you love most about working in the wine industry?
The people! I love how wine brings people together, and it’s amazing how anyone who works in the industry is typically just as passionate and excited about wine as you are.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career or as a woman in the wine/beverage industry?
Self-doubt and imposter syndrome is still something I struggle with at this point in my career. I try to remind myself that I’ve come a long way and can do anything I set my mind to.
There has been conversation recently around the term “badass” and how its connotations suggest that women need to act masculine to succeed. What are your thoughts?
To me, “badass” doesn’t have a masculine connotation. I think anyone who is going after what they want and not letting anyone or anything stop them is a badass.
If you could end this conversation with anything being your key takeaway for readers, what would it be and why?
If you love wine and you’re thinking about exploring a career in the industry, just go for it! Start before you’re ready and don’t be afraid to lean on others for advice and support.