Deborah Pratt, winery public relations manager, Inniskillin Wines
Deborah Pratt had no plans to leave teaching when she began helping her friend Donald Ziraldo. But once she started working with him at his newly licensed Inniskillin Wines, she was completely taken aback by how exciting the wine industry was, and what tremendous potential it offered. She knew immediately she could contribute to its growth. "At the beginning, there was no credibility given to women. The wine business was a male-dominated field," she says, "but Donald was always on the leading edge." Donald travelled a lot to discover new grape varieties and marketing techniques. "On his regular visits to California, he saw women involved in the industry and the impact they had on the business," Deborah says, adding, "I came in full of confidence, knowing that all my skills applied extremely well to the marketing strategies of Inniskillin." Thirty-four years later, she's one of Inniskillin's longest-serving employees and still its biggest promoter. For young women thinking of entering the wine business, Deborah recommends learning a second language, keeping an open mind, and travelling the world to get a better perspective on both Canada and the wine business.