[ALL PHOTOS were taken by Jo Diaz; with the exception of Barbara Lyons Stewart, who gave her photo for use.]

Earlier I wrote a story titled Rutherford Dust Brought Karen MacNeil Squarely Into My Headlights, Now Into Yours. It included Karen MacNeil as part of that story. So does this one, in a completely different light.

[PHOTO below: left to right: Emma Swain, Lauren Pesch, Karen MacNeil, Sarah Fowler, Regina Weinstein]


Karen MacNeil hosted the panel A Female Perspective on Today’s Wine Industry:

The All Female Panelists Included 



Yes, you read that right… All female panelists. This was a first for Rutherford Dust, and also for me, for sure.

Before I got there, I didn’t have a title or a feeling for what I’d write after the event, based on the new and intriguing Day in The Dust 2018 program. Not only was it including a 2015 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon Tasting, but it also included a Discussion of Women in the Wine Industry. 

I first decided to see who’s on the Board of Directors for The Rutherford Dust Society today. I was astounded, because what I started in the 1980s as a female flying solo in treacherous waters, by dropping into an all male bastion as its newest member, has now witnessed the following progression. Why I’m writing this one is to demonstrate how far we’ve all come, whether or not we’ve all liked it, in the last 30 years.


Pretty Evenly Split Yin Yang Board of Directors:

  1. President: Davie Piña, Piña Vineyard Management
  2. Vice President: Steve Tonella, S.R. Tonella Cellars
  3. Secretary: Regina Weinstein, Honig Vineyard and Winery
  4. Treasurer: Joel Aiken,  Aiken Wines
  5. Board Member: Michelle Baggett, Alpha Omega
  6. Board Member: Andy Beckstoffer, Beckstoffer Vineyards
  7. Board Member: Kathy Chaix, Chaix Wines
  8. Board Member: Elizabeth DeLouise-Gant, Conn Creek
  9. Board Member: Trevor Durling, Beaulieu Vineyard
  10. Board Member: Maria Haug, Talahalusi Vineyard
  11. Board Member: Julie Johnson, Tres Sabores
  12. Board Member: Lauren Leeds Pesch, Leeds & Pesch Vineyard Consulting
  13. Board Member: Rod Santos, Wm. Harrison Vineyard & Winery

Say W-H-A-T?

In Napa? It hit me like it did when I first heard that Rotary International was going to allow women to become members, 30 plus years ago.

I don’t know why I wanted to be “in” Rotary so badly; then somehow I just got it done. Boy, do I remember how much fun that was as one of the first women to become a Rotarian in Lewiston, Maine, early the early 1980s. We had our own guru: Mr. Dominic (Dom) Tardif. He became my mentor, and guided me through the maze. He would vote for me to become the first woman on their board of directors. These are the kind of men who help women to achieve… from fathers, uncles, grandfathers, husbands, and bosses… Yes, bosses. It is they who support women of strength in business. They are our solid allies, because they don’t measure gender; they only see talent, and aren’t afraid to share responsibilities in important ways. They already do this with multiple females in life. Their main characteristic is that they’re emotionally intelligent men who are open to change.

Feng Shui Architect ~ Barbara Lyons Stewart

One of my beloved and well-balance women friends in California was Barbara Lyons Stewart. She has two published books and a lot of education to her credit. Before her untimely death with cancer, she was designing the feng shui on San Francisco International’s new main lobby.

  • Feng Shui: A practical Guide for Architects and Designers ~ Vincent M. Smith with Barbara Lyons Stewart, AIA
  • FLOORING Psychology: How to Avoid (Literally) Slipping and Tripping Through Life ~ Barbara Lyons Stewart, AIA, EDAC
  • Golden Gate Feng Shui SchoolGGSFS graduate, architect and interior designer, Barbara-Lyons Stewart transformed her work as an architect designer into a career as an instinct-based design specialist when she experienced a reconnection to the natural world through feng shui.

I met Barbara through my work with Ron Rubin Winery. I had to write a press release about Barbara’s work, about her work in creating a new building for Ron Rubin. So, Ron Rubin encouraged me to meet with her. We had many meetings, with each time including a bonding lunch. As I learned about her career and her personal life, we were so similar in spirit…. But, we knew this the moment we met; we both both intuitively knew that we come from the same tribe.

In one of our last meetings, she shared this with me, and it’s relevant to the point of this story.

In Yin, there’s female energy, based on the theoretical. It’s dark (black presentation) and mysterious. It has a negative magnetic field; notice within the Yin there’s also a dot of Yang.

And in Yang, there’s masculine energy, based on pragmatics. It’s light (white presentation) and straight forward. It has a positive magnetic field; notice within the Yang there’s also a dot of Yin.

This took me to much deeper understanding into the balance of life. To me, this proved that we’re now in an auto correct for balance? There have been tribes where women have held and still hold high regard with secure men, who respect what women bring to the table. Everyone enjoys life more, with less stress. These women have had collective resolve, as they still do today.

This is what gets the feminine side to be where they want to be. It’s isn’t about the battle of the sexes. It’s about the sexes common cause, as evidenced by the men on the board agreeing to have an all female panel, who will examine A Female Perspective on Today’s Wine Industry. Their usual tasting ~ talking about the characteristics of their AVA, a Rutherford Dust Cab tasting, then each wine examined ~ was taking on a new discussion element, versus examining their AVA.

Because so much happened on that day, this is going to be a multi-faceted story; i.e., this is Part 1. This part is who the key players were for this story, and who supports the Board of Directors of the Rutherford Dust Society.

The next story will examine the key players for this year and what each one brought to the presentation.



The Rutherford viticultural area is located in the historic heart of the Napa Valley. It’s known world-wide for its signature “Rutherford dust,” a term used to reflect its terroir, its deep connection to the soil in the vineyards, the wine, and the wineries of Rutherford. In collaboration with its grower and vintner members, the Rutherford Dust Society (RDS) focuses on helping wine consumers, trade, and media to discover Rutherford’s celebrated  terroir. They do this, while promoting the highest quality standards for grape growing and winemaking in the region. The RDS also supports other Rutherford non-profit organizations, like the Rutherford Hall, the Rutherford Volunteer Fire Department, and the Rutherford 4-H.

The Rutherford Dust Society is a non-profit, member association for growers and vintners in the Rutherford Appellation.