This is our new blog feature, Women In Wine! Once a month, we’ll profile a badass woman in the wind industry and ask her how she makes it all happen. Enjoy!
MEET: VANESSA LISOVSKIS OF BOURGET IMPORTS
What brought you to the wine industry?
Always a very circuitous route that leads one here, I suppose. Foreign languages + studies abroad + restaurant work = passion for food, travel, and other cultures. That led to the wine business for me.
Tell me a little bit about your current job and what you do on a day-to-day basis:
Sales Manager for Bourget Imports
. Day to day it changes, and COVID has definitely altered what this job means. Mostly, I’m here to support our wonderful reps, put out any fires, make sure everyone has the right tools for the job, and try and keep everyone happy, all while facilitating growth in our competitive market. It’s communicating with many different people daily, from our suppliers to our customers to the sales team and the managing partners. Lots of behind-the-scenes planning and strategizing, along with analyzing numbers and yay, spreadsheets! There is no “normal” right now, so I feel that any work that gets done, however we get there, is a win.
What do you like best about your job?
(Pre-COVID) Being able to travel to the places where the wines are made, to visit our producers, is really a huge highlight. This job also allows a certain flexibility to get things done, within a set of expectations. There is freedom here to explore what you love and really own it, be it a region, a winemaker, or even a technique. You can forge your own path. That’s a blessing.
What’s your work “uniform” like? Do you have a particular outfit/lipstick/pair of sneakers/etc. that puts you in the right mindset?
Pre-child, I had my certain go-tos. Heels are fantastic at 5’10”, I’m a giant in them! However, guess what’s not so fun with a toddler? Chasing them with those heels on. I’ve since opted for a more accessible wardrobe. I’ll dust off my pencil skirts and heels now and then, but it’s more about striped shirts and cigarette pants these days.
How do you stay motivated each day?
I have a family I love. That’s motivation enough. It doesn’t hurt that I’m inspired by the people I work with (colleagues, customers, competitors), and the wineries I represent. Bringing people new wines, and new experiences is like opening a present each time.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do before bed?
First thing—my 4-year-old yells “MAMA!” and I go to her room to snuggle. A close second is check my emails. Last thing—check my emails.
Do you have children/how old are your kiddos? What’s it like balancing work and being a mother? Any tips?
My little lady is four, and she is everything. Until COVID, it was impossible to balance work and family without the addition of daycare. She started when she was 9 months old and went 45 hours/week. Since March, she’s been at home with us, and it has been a challenge. My husband and I swap days/times when we watch her and it’s worked, but quite frankly she deserves better than a mama with one eye on the phone all the time. She always knows when my work colleagues call. She’s sure to remind them to tell her new knock-knock jokes each time I’m on a phone call. [Ed. Note: Cute!] My tips would be to create a new work schedule. Working at night, once they go to bed, is the new primetime. Also, when they’re super little, bring them with you everywhere. They can’t object, and it will make them used to it as they grow. Maija loves coming to restaurants and stores with me, since she’s been coming to my meetings since she was 10 weeks old. I want to model a strong mother for her, but I also want her to know she’s my priority. It isn’t easy, but I check myself and try to reset when I’m deep in work-mode and trying to play legos with her at the same time…
What’s your advice for someone hoping to break into your field?
It has always been: Travel. See the world. Live elsewhere to understand other cultures. Get close to nature. Work in restaurants. Taste EVERYTHING; food, wine, beer, spirits, tinctures, whatever (spit too!). Expand your palate. Write everything you taste down. Work in retail. Get a well-rounded view on how wines get from maker to consumer. Be open. Study. Listen. Read. If you have a passion for something, it won’t be difficult to learn more about the subject. I’ve seen more than one person I’ve encountered over the years hear me say this, and do it. It’s hard work, but it can be done.
Do you have a favorite or funniest on-the-job memory?
Too many, and most involve Annette Peters, my boss and mentor. You haven’t laughed with wine coming out of your nose until you’ve either been involved in an Annette adventure or heard tales of one. She’s gonna write a book someday…
How do you stay healthy as a professional in the wine industry? I imagine it’s very easy to indulge! Any tips?
My toddler keeps me in check. I can’t over-indulge because she will wake me up at 4:30 on any morning I’ve had that extra glass of wine the night before. It’s a gift. I’m not sure if I want to “talk” about my husband’s cancer battle this last year, but he’s recovering from stage 4 cancer. He’s absolutely determined to get himself back to his previous strength, and that involves all of us. So we’re all on a mission to stick around in this world for as long as we can. [Ed. Note: Bravo, you can do it!]
What is your go-to wine–the one that’s ALWAYS in your cellar/fridge? Why do you love it?
In the fridge I’d like to say CHAMPAGNE, but that’s not reality. More likely than not, it’s something like Muscadet, Riesling, or Gruner Veltliner. I’m a high-acid white lover. Those wines go with so many different foods, and are super enjoyable on their own. In my cellar it’s all old Riesling and Barolo. I’m so boring. 🙂
What’s your favorite weird food and wine pairing? Like, the one you might be embarrassed to admit to?
Again, pretty boring here, but I don’t have weird pairings? I’ll drink old Chenin with a steak, I don’t care!
If you can’t drink wine, what are you sipping instead?
Bourbon, or American whiskey. It’s funny to me that everyday bourbons that I could get whenever, are now coveted items that you have to be on a waitlist for! Go figure. Too bad I don’t like spiced rum, that’s still ubiquitous!
Favorite food or beverage to bring to a gathering/party?
Sparkling wine, every time. It’s so fun and versatile. It always surprises people who think they don’t like sparkling wine, and, if you want to be silly, you can saber that bottle!
What’s something you do that makes you feel your most powerful?
Knowing that I can do what is needed of me, even in the most difficult of circumstances. Asking for support when you need it isn’t a weakness, that’s definitely a strength. Also, making people laugh always makes me pat myself on the back. One of my favorite things.
Tiger King or 90 Day Fiancé? Neither! Tried Tiger King and got super sad
Sparkling water or still? Sparkling
Morning or evening? Evening
Ice cream or potato chips? Potato chips
Corn dogs or pronto pups?What’s the difference?
Introvert or extrovert? Extroverted Introvert
Concert or Broadway play? Concert
Cardio or strength training? Does lifting 30+ pounds of toddler count?
Beach vacation or European vacation? European
Super Troopers or Wet Hot American Summer? Wet Hot American Summer. Love them both though!
Neutral tones or bold colors? Neutral
Dishes or laundry? Laundry
Star Wars or superheroes? Star Wars
Lipstick or eyeliner? Lipstick
Thanks, Vanessa! Follow Bourget Imports on Instagram @bourget_imports.