Grape expectations: Women of the Vine CEO makes fine wine

(CBS News) Lots of us dream about turning a passion into a career. Deborah Brenner did just that when she walked away from a job as a marketing executive and turned her dream into a book, a bottle and then a wine business called Women of the Vine.

Brenner's desire to spend more time outdoors, coupled with a passion for wine led her to California.

"I came out to Napa to explore to see if I actually could do something in the wine industry," Brenner said. "And all of a sudden I'm meeting these women that were incredibly resilient and hopeful, passionate for what they're doing and they were working for the toughest boss in the world because they worked for Mother Nature."

She spent months meeting with women of the wine world, and published a book in 2006 named "Women of the Vine." A year later, she turned the book into a bottle to create a wine company of the same name.

Grape grower Kim Ledbetter farms the land. Alison Crowe makes the wine. Brenner, drawing on her marketing experience, acts as the company's traveling salesperson. Together they're hoping to make a statement in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

Brenner said the name is on purpose. "It's not Brenner family vineyards or anything - it's not about that. It's plural - it's about all of the women breaking the glass ceiling in the industry."

That collaborative spirit is what drew Crowe to the group. "When women get together I do see more collaboration," Crowe said. "There does tend to be less ego involved and I think that that can be a good thing when you're trying to get smart business decisions made."

Brenner admits she still has a lot to learn about her second act. But the support she's receiving from other women in the industry is helping her discover the one thing she sought when she began the journey.

"A lot of us are seeking balance and how to put it all together," Brenner said. "That's the one thing that I love when I'm out here and I'm blending and tasting with our winemaker is everything we talk about is balance. I do love what I'm doing and I feel like I have much more of a purpose. But most importantly the camaraderie of women around me and supporting what we're doing that gives me the courage to keep doing everything that I'm doing."

  • Lee Woodruff

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