Wine And Inclusion: How One Millennial Seeks To Impact And Diversify The Industry

Alexandra Schrecengost
Source: alexschrec/

May 11 2022, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Some of the best business ideas come from working within an industry, seeing a gap or need, and deciding you’ll be the change you want to see. Alexandra Schrecengost found herself having such a lightbulb moment as the head of communications on the executive management team at one of the largest importers of fine and rare wines. “I was typically the only one in the room that was of color. For a while, I was also the only woman among senior staff. It really inspired me to move forward to create my own business model around diversity and around culture.”


She took her skills in communications and her knowledge of wine and spirits industry to start her own companies Virtual With Us and Culture With Us, seeking to reconnect workforces displaced due to the new normal of the pandemic. “I saw organizations that were struggling to maintain relationships and contacts,” she recalls. “I was doing market research and noticed that there were a significant number of global organizations that have distributed workforces, and they really thrive on diverse-think versus group-think. Their struggle was socialization and how to maintain culture while entertaining prospects, clients, and their internal teams.”

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Her companies offer virtual retreats, client gifts, cocktail and brunch kits, and yummy holiday boxes, redefining corporate gifting and providing a space for people to connect both in-office and via the Web. She’s also a huge supporter of Black- and women-owned enterprises and counts McBride Sisters wines, bourbons from Uncle Nearest, and preserves from Trade Street Jam Co., (a jam company that Schrecengost says has a basil lemon flavor that “goes really well in cocktails”) as favorites.

Source: instagram/alexschrec
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Connecting Through Culture And Spirits

“Essentially our structure is, if they want a virtual or a hybrid event, they can have that. Hybrid is the most inclusive because it’s for the folks that are all together in the same office and includes those who are in different offices,” she adds. “We’ve been able to provide corporate gift boxes for clients and kits for cocktail hour, whether they’re drinking wine, cooking together, or they’re baking. There’s a socialization aspect that incorporates inclusion. We support small businesses globally and worldwide, so if there’s coworkers in Chicago, Abu Dhabi or in LA, they can all enjoy something and really get to know each other.”

Through her brands, consumers, especially millennials who might feel overwhelmed by the choices offered at retailers, can also get a sense of variety in tastes and brands in order to diversify both their palettes and their knowledge. “For me, I don’t need the wine to be super expensive for it to be good. There are quality wines that are affordable. I’m always thinking about it like, ‘What’s approachable to my friends or colleagues?’ Generally I’ll look for grapes that are popular to the masses—cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, things like that. You also want to look at the price point—start with something that’s $25 to $35. That’s a really good sweet spot. It’s not breaking the bank and it’s a great way to introduce some really strong wine brands. It’s usually the entry level for some great [brands] that are high-end. If you’re buying multiple bottles of wine, that’s a good place to start.”

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Making Wine And Entertaining An Inclusive Experience

A huge aspect of her brand’s impact is promoting cultural exploration, education, inclusion and interaction. And since fellowshipping with family, friends and colleagues is something that many companies and everyday professionals are seeking more of, cultivating the right ambiance and backdrop of food and beverages is important. Schrecongost, a tastemaker in her own right, recommends starting with the menu and planning your beverages from there. “If we’re just doing charcuterie, or just doing appetizers, I look to bubbles. So you could do a prosecco—which is more affordable than champagne—or try a domestic sparkling wine. ? If you want to go all out, you also have chablis—which I love. It’s a chardonnay and it’s not at the highest price point. You can get it for like $30. It’s an amazing wine and it goes well with seafood, with salad—it has such diversity to it. I love going that route because it’s a wine that everyone loves to drink.”

She also strives to make the experience of enjoying quality wine and spirits along with supporting diversity within the industry something that is relatable and second-nature to all, no matter your background or budget. “The mission of my company is to drive diversity forward and introduce as many brands. I truly believe everyone should have a seat at the table.”

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By: Janell Hazelwood, MAOL

Janell Hazelwood, MAOL, is an award-winning journalist, speaker, editor, and strategist who has worked for companies including The New York Times, Black Enterprise, and Conde Nast. She's also a proud HBCU journalism graduate who enjoys serving global audiences of women professionals and entrepreneurs. She holds a master's degree in organizational leadership (MAOL) with a concentration in coaching, allowing her to pursue her ultimate goal as a lifelong servant leader to women professionals, entrepreneurs, and nonprofit founders.

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