Women in Libations
By Kristin Kramer, Public Information & WEF Director, Wilson School District
he rich history of our region includes that of breweries and wineries. This tradition continues today where throughout Berks and our neighboring county you can tour several locally owned and operated wineries and breweries. While it may sound glamourous to work in one of these industries, it’s not all about imbibing and socializing. It takes dedication and hard work! We hear from three local women who have made a career in the world of libations.
For the Love of Wine
What stemmed from her husband’s hobby has now become a full-time job for Tracy Smith, co-owner and event organizer for Ridgewood Winery, LLC in Birdsboro. Her husband Bill loved the physics and chemistry of creating wines. Winemaking was also in Tracy’s family’s roots. “Growing up, my sister and I picked grapes for our grandfather. We didn’t know they were for wine,” Tracy shared. “In our family, when you are of drinking age, grandpa would give you a jug of who knows what kind of homemade wine,” she said. “My husband was determined to duplicate my grandfather’s recipes.”
William Smith and Tracy Smith
By continued trial and error, Bill began perfecting the art of wine making! “As people would come over to our house, Bill would ask for their input about the wine whether it was too sweet or too dry.”
What is the most challenging aspect?
In 2008, Bill entered an amateur winemaking competition and won grand champion. In 2009, his wine had the same results. “The judges told him, ‘You are not amateur.’ Offers were made to buy his recipes. We had a decision whether or not to sell or go commercial on our own.” Tracy and Bill chose the latter, and dove into the full-time world of wine making.
Advice for working with your spouse:
The Smith’s purchased Ridgewood Farmstead and in 2014 they received their license and opened their winery. Tracy left behind the corporate world working at Vanguard Investments in Malvern. “I retired in October of last year and I haven’t looked back,” she said. In their business, Bill makes the wine and takes care of federal and state regulations. Tracy handles the marketing, staffing, building care and events, which includes coordinating private parties and weddings at the winery. Tracy shared more insight into her role at Ridgewood:
What is the best part about your job?
I love meeting new people and coordinating events. I also love the history of the house, which is a Nationally Registered Historic Site and was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
10 Women2Women Summer 2016
Trying to keep product on the shelf – it is good problem that our wine is selling well, but it is still a problem and working with your spouse brings challenges. It is tough to have a work-life balance. We try not to talk about business when we are at home.
Don’t over step your boundaries and realize and respect each other strengths. I don’t tell him how to make wine and he tries not to tell me how to manage the other aspects of our business.
What is something you think people might not know or realize about working in the wine industry? That it is actually a job working long hours and we don’t get to drink wine all day.
Ridgewood Winery, LLC
2039 Philadelphia Ave, Birdsboro 484-509-0100 | ridgewoodwinery.com Hours: Thursdays & Fridays: 4:30-8pm; Saturdays: 12-8pm; Sundays 12-6pm.