Welcome back to my third annual series featuring women in wine who are at the top of their game. This year we have the privilege of hearing from women in various roles – from business operations to winemakers, and even CEOs and Presidents. The accomplishments of women in a male dominated industry is worth celebrating not only on International Women’s Day, but all month and all year for that matter. These amazing women are paving the way for future generations of female leaders and powerhouses in wine. I hope you enjoy learning about their journey and winemaking philosophy and feel as inspired as I do to go after your dreams. Check back here for updates as I continue to roll out these interviews daily on Instagram.
Our next virtual interview is taking us all the way to Spain to meet with Saile Ramirez, CEO of Hammeken Cellars. This winery approaches traditional Spanish wines with a modern mindset. Hammeken was established in 1996 by Nicholas Hammeken who had the vision to use native Spanish grapes from the best sites throughout the country to deliver fresh, approachable wines while focusing on lesser known varietals and regions. The winemaking team is made up of 6 winemakers headed by Marcelo Morales, wine director with over 20 years of winemaking experience. The winemaking team partners and works closely with various Spanish growers to source fruit from over 20 regions after meticulously selecting quality fruit down to the row and block. This approach to producing wine means there’s a little something for every palate — from Cava to Rosado, Albarino to Tempranillo, Moscato to Verdejo and many more. Hammeken is truly a one stop shop for anyone who wants to dive into the world of Spanish wines. I’ve been preaching this for a while… Spain is at the top of my list of value regions to explore! This is your sign to jump on the Spanish wine trend here!
This modern approach to producing wine is really exciting and reinventing wine production and could not happen without the right leadership, which brings us back to Saile. Without further ado, here is an interview that my friends at Gregory + Vine PR were kind enough to share with us.
Q: What did you want to be when you grew up? What were your childhood aspirations?
Saile: I have always been attracted to numbers. I remember saying to my parents I wanted to
do something where I could use my calculator every day! Of course, when I was very little,
I had a crazy dreams (as I love music & dancing so much) I dreamt on being a professional
When I entered mid-school I really found myself curious as to how a company/business
works. I suppose because my mom was always thinking about new business ideas – she
had an intense entrepreneurial spirit, but as she was kept very busy with three kids she
rarely had the time to work on making those ideas a reality. I was always ready to help
my dad to count money, to make the “family financial organization of the month” with
my mom, visit banks, etc..
I had a favorite uncle running a freight company so my holidays from school I just wanted
to visit him and be in his office to learn all I could. I was always trying to sell him the idea
that I was going to be his “person”; that I would take the lead of the company after I
graduated from University.
Q: How did you find your way to Hammeken Cellars? Would you share a bit about your
Saile: It’s been a journey full of hard work. After my MBA studies, I knew I needed to be part of
the strategic & financial part of a business, but how would I make it there? I was eager
to for an opportunity in Europe as it would be a chance to branch out and develop myself,
but only a few doors are open if you are unexperienced, a woman and an immigrant! So
I was lucky enough that an amazing Wine Producer – Hammeken Cellars – gave me my
Since I started with Hammeken, I have worked in all the departments across the company:
from logistics to customer service to marketing and PR to sales support. Finally I found
myself faced with an opportunity to work where I’ve always felt I belonged – figures &
management. I was blessed with the chance and I worked hard to always overdeliver. The
experience of having a mental map of how all the parts of the company work has been
invaluable in helping me to where I am now.
Wine has so much go into it – so much hard work and tons of people involved – from the
vineyards to the final product our consumers enjoy so much. Hard work and doing what
we love are the common thread for all of us at Hammeken.
Q: What has it been like for you as a woman to be in an elevated role in a male-dominated
Saile: Women in the wine industry are mostly in marketing, administrative, and tourism roles.
Seems like other divisions, such as boards, management, winemaking are statistically still
far from gender equality. I have had the pleasure of meeting amazing women in many
different roles and, to my perspective, it is not about the gender, but about being
outstanding and simply the best at what you do.
I reckon, it is always a harder path for women to prove we can have the same
commitments, knowledge and strength to participate in quality wine talks, like any other
male specialist. But lately the amount of women finding their space in the industry has
increased considerably. I must admit I have faced disappointment many times when I
show up for a meeting or important event instead of a male colleague and have to deal
with comments trying to diminish my role or power – you just learn to cope with it.
I have also seen many women be extremely strong, to protect themselves and try to prove
that they can be as strategic and tough as a man.
Luckily, I have been surrounded by many supporters that have never felt intimidated and
I haven’t let negative comments bring me down. Most importantly I try not to change who
I am – I speak loudly and keep my head up; if you know what you are doing, be sure of
yourself, they will listen!
Q: What makes Hammeken Cellars special or different than other Spanish wine
Saile: Definitely our philosophy. The founder, Nicholas Hammeken, set the bar very high when
he decided to make a disruptive interpretation of Traditional Spanish wines. Our team of
winemakers together with our Innovation team delivers a very unique collection of highquality wines that are easy to understand and approachable for the consumer.
We are a one stop solution. Wine industry professionals need a reliable, solid, quality
partner. We work with 18 appellations, seven winemakers traveling around Spain,
designers, logistics coordinators and all the back of house support we might need – that is
hard to beat!
Q: What are your goals as CEO for Hammeken as a brand?
Saile: I picture Hammeken Cellars, cementing the philosophy of the company, being disruptive
and being recognized as trend-setters in the Spanish wine industry. Innovation is the key
Q: What advice would you give your younger self?
Saile: I would say, enjoy a bit more of each stage of life, loosen up – it’s fine to allow yourself to
make mistakes once in a while.
Thanks so much to the Gregory + Vine team for connecting us with Saile and introducing us to the exceptional, wide portfolio of Spanish wines from Hammeken Cellars. I have to admit, this 100% boxed tempranillo was great! Checkout my post and wine review with notes here.
Thanks for sipping with us!
@smashleythegrape | The Social Grapes LLC