When Debbie Gioquindo was downsized from her corporate job last year, she thought life was handing her a raw deal. With a mortgage to be paid and two children entering college age, the newly unemployed mother was understandably upset and fearful of what her future held.
“My husband and I had many conversations about what direction to go. Do I try to get back in the corporate world again only to find myself in this same position? Or do I pursue something of my own, something I’m passionate about and love?”
If she followed her passion, it would certainly involve wine. She and her husband Paul both love to explore new wines. So much so, that Gioquindo started a wine blog a few years back. She is known in the blogging and wine world as The Hudson Valley Wine Goddess. While she had fun with it, she also took it seriously, earning such notable designations as Certified Specialist in Wine by the American Society of Wine Educators and a Wine Location Specialist in Champagne and Port by the Center of Wine Origins.
But how to turn her love for wine into a career? Her answer came via Twitter. “I was bouncing back and forth between feeling sorry for myself and growing a set and figuring this out. Then a Tweet came across my screen that changed everything.” That Tweet was from an acquaintance, Keryl Pesce, who is the author of Happy Bitch. Keryl said, “What do you think about the idea of a Happy Bitch wine?” Gioquindo wasted no time in responding, suggesting that she consider making it a Hudson Valley or New York sourced wine. A few days later, the two met for coffee and were off to the races.
“I knew where to start, where to go and who to talk to. I set up a meeting with a local wine master and six months later, Keryl and I launched Happy Bitch Rose wine, a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.”
“Debbie’s awesome. She’s a hard-worker, has guts and is a good person.” Says Pesce. “I am so lucky to have her as a business partner.”
Happy Bitch wine is distributed in New York State, Arizona and beginning July 1, in New Jersey. The wine can also be ordered on line and shipped wherever allowed by state law.
But the story doesn’t end there. With a glass of wine in hand, she was browsing the internet one evening doing some research about her family roots. That’s when she made a startling discovery. Her forefathers were wine makers too. Her great-grandfather Alfred Lessner came from family of wine merchants who owned six vineyards in Tapolca in western Hungary in the 1700’s.
"Wine is in my blood. " says Gioquindo. “Making this discovery about my ancestors was not only exciting, but it confirmed without a doubt I’m on the right path. A year ago I never thought I would say this, but I am so grateful I lost my job. What an amazing adventure this has turned out to be."