Local Women Hold Their Own in the Historically Male-Dominated Wine Industry


In the last 10 years, women have taken the wine world by storm—and Cincinnati is no exception. We managed to wrangle a handful of our region’s brightest sommelier stars together for a convivial chat. (Naturally, libations were involved.) And despite various levels of experience and certifications, there was overwhelming consensus on everything from Champagne (good with popcorn, oysters, and fried chicken), the importance of constantly tasting new wines, and maintaining a humble attitude while staying committed to enjoying oneself in the process. That’s an outlook we can raise a glass to.

From left: Laura Landoll, Jordan Patton, Joanna Argus Kirkendall, Mary Horn, Shannon Depenbrock Hembree, Denise Sullivan, Evelyn Ignatow, Lindsay Furia

Photograph by Jeremy Kramer

Laura Landoll: Advanced Sommelier – CMS, CSW
Position: Sales /portfolio manager at Grand Cru Wine Company and Vintage Wine Distributor, adjunct instructor at Cincinnati State
Number of years in the business:
Favorite wine region: “Portugal was amazing!”
Wine philosophy: “Life is too short to drink the same wine all the time.”

Jordan Patton: Certified Sommelier – CMS
Position: General Manager at Salazar
Number of years in the business: 6
Favorite food and wine pairing: Oysters and Champagne
How has the industry changed: “There is more curiosity from the guests and wine consumers but also more trust in the wine suppliers to help in the decision making.”

Joanna Argus Kirkendall
Position: Owner of 1215 Wine Bar & Coffee Lab, co-owner of Pleasantry
Years in the business: 5
Last bottle of wine “off the clock”: a bottle of Julien Braud Muscadet
Favorite food and wine pairing: “I’d pick pizza and a super dry Lambrusco, but I don’t push the idea that there’s a perfect wine for every food. I think if a wine is well made and it makes you happy, drink it.”

Mary Horn: Advanced Sommelier – CMS, CSW, CSP, CSS
Position: Vice President of Fine Wine Sales & Education, Heidelberg Distributing Family of Companies
Years in the business: 25+
Favorite wine region:
Advice: “Have thick skin, don’t take things too personally, and most of all remember to enjoy and have fun.”

Shannon Depenbrock Hembree: Certified Sommelier – CMS
Position: Wine buyer at DEP’s Fine Wine and Spirits
Years in the business: 10
Wine more people should try: German Riesling
Advice: “Taste as often as possible to hone your palate and invest time in your wine education. Knowledge is power!”

Denise Sullivan: CSW
Position: Wine sales at Vintage Wine Distributor
Years in the business: 26
Favorite food and wine pairing: Champagne and popcorn
Advice: “Don’t burn bridges and always maintain an attitude of learning.”

Evelyn Ignatow: Certified Sommelier – CMS
Position: Owner of Hyde Park Gourmet Food and Wine
Years in the business: 21
How the wine world has changed: “Consumption is up and there’s greater consumer interest in general. More women are working in the business as both winemakers and owners.”
Wishes more people would drink: Loire Chenin Blanc and Cru Beaujolais

Lindsay Furia: Certified Sommelier CMS
Position: Sommelier and wine educator at Boca
Years in the business: 8
Favorite wine region: Jura, France
How has the industry changed: “I love the shift towards sustainable, biodynamic, and natural wine.”

Abbreviation key: CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine) • CSS (Certified Specialist of Spirits) • CMS (Court of Master Sommeliers) • CSP (Certified Sake Professional)

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