CHICA Boss: How 2 Women Created a Wine Club Just for Latinas
Martha Cisneros and Erlinda Alexandra Doherty explain the idea behind their new wine-focused platform, designed for Latinas.
When wine blogger Martha Cisneros and sommelier Erlinda Alexandra Doherty connected during the pandemic via social media, they immediately knew that they had to take their connection offline. So in October, they launched Latinas Wine Club, a global community dedicated to teaching others about wine while bringing together Latina wine lovers. "When the pandemic was at its hardest, I really wanted to support the community, connect with other like-minded Latinas, and support Latinos in wine, so I started this Instagram page to connect with other Latinas," Cisneros (above) tells People CHICA. "Everyone was happy and accepting of this concept of Latinas Wine Club, and then I met Erlinda. We connected through Instagram as well and then we started sharing ideas and we were like, 'This is going somewhere.' We decided to upgrade the page and start this platform to support Latinas who want to learn about wine."
As a wine writer and sommelier, Doherty brought her vast knowledge to the platform. "I was doing all my activities in person," Doherty recalls of pre-pandemic life. "We connected over Instagram because her page had been promoting Latina wine professionals. One day she had mentioned me and put me on the page, and I said, 'You know what? This is amazing. How can we connect during this time?' Our community was one of the most affected by the pandemic, and at the same time there was this big focus on people of color in the wine industry. This Instagram page could be more than just promoting, but [could be about] Latina wine enthusiasts with education really being the core."
Cisneros has often had to deal with being the only Latina at industry events; part of the goal of Latinas Wine Club is for enthusiasts and professionals to make connections with with other Latina wine lovers. "I get invited to very exclusive wine tastings with the best chefs and sommeliers, and I'm the only Latina. So as soon as I get into the room, everyone is like, 'What is she doing here?'" says Cisneros. "It's difficult, but as soon as I start tasting and showing off my skills, everyone is like, 'OK.' ... Being the only one in the room, you feel kind of lonely sometimes, like you cannot connect."
Like her business partner, Doherty has found that being a woman of color in this business has been challenging. "You're always the only one," she shares. "I was always the only female or person of color, period, and it was very intimidating. To not be viewed as an equal or even on the same level as those that were there. Now it's become a lot more open and inclusive."
Latinas Wine Club just launched this week, but it has already been well received by its intended audience and is growing by the minute. "We already have 100 members in the newsletter and far more on Instagram," says Cisneros. "For seven days, I'm very pleased."
"It's been overwhelming," Doherty adds. "Everyone, especially our community, they're wanting to connect. They're really wanting to find others that are going through the same issues, challenges, that have the same dreams. So this just gives everybody another place to do that."
As for where they would like to see the Latinas Wine Club go in the future, Cisneros and Doherty hope to soon be able to interact with the community in person. "We definitely want to travel to a wine region with our club and do a wine tour," Cisneros says. Doherty wants to grow the group, but still keep it intimate for members. "We'd like to have maybe regional chapters at some point, when we can grow this in person," she says. "We would love to have ambassadors in different regions that can meet up and have classes, too. We want to be able to share knowledge and create other mentors — other Latino wine mentors for the community, spread all over the country. All over the world!"