Wine closures have become a hot topic in recent years. Natural corks have become polarizing due to the potential of creating flaws in the wine, screw caps and synthetic corks have become increasingly popular. Based in North Carolina, Nomacorc is a leading producer of synthetic corks, and has been extremely active educating wine consumers and industry professionals about the advances and benefits of synthetic cork, which include the ability to control the amount of oxygen reaching the wine during aging and eliminating the risk of TCA taint. I had the opportunity to connect with the Nomacorc team in Sacramento in January during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, including public relations specialist Whitney Rigsbee. Whitney has such a passion for work she does at Nomacorc, as well as her company’s mission to innovate wine closures and improve the wine drinking experience, and we’re thrilled to have her bringing her talents to our Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board.
What was your path into the beverage industry?
Prior to joining Nomacorc, I was working for an agency based in Raleigh, NC doing public relations for a global toilet paper and soap manufacturer. Outside of the office, I was volunteering for a non-profit called the Frankie Lemmon School and Developmental Center, a pre-school for children with special needs. Nomacorc is a big supporter of the Frankie Lemmon School and several of its employees volunteer for the school’s annual Triangle Wine Experience fundraiser. I ended up meeting two of my soon-to-be (amazing) colleagues working on the marketing committee together. After about nine months volunteering with them, I noticed a media relations job opening that one of my soon-to-be colleagues posted on LinkedIn, and sent him a note asking about the position. I had really enjoyed volunteering and working together so I thought the transition over Nomacorc would be a good fit. A couple of e-mail exchanges, a phone interview, and two in-person meetings later they offered me the position at Nomacorc. I like to joke around with my coworkers that I went from toilet paper to terroir in a matter of two weeks! I’ve loved it ever since.
Can you explain your current role at Nomacorc?
What’s so great about the marketing department at Nomacorc is that you are exposed to many responsibilities and areas of work. My main focus is public relations and social media for Nomacorc’s English-speaking territories including North America, Canada, UK, Australia and S. Africa. However, I also try to lend a hand anywhere else that is needed, including internal communications, events, editing, copywriting, etc.
It’s obvious that you and your colleagues at Nomacorc have a lot of passion for your work. Can you talk about this passion and what inspires you so much about working with bottle enclosures?
Nomacorc’s founding principle was based on providing a better wine closure solution for the wine industry, helping to deliver the best possible wine to consumers. Today, that same principle still applies and we truly consider ourselves as a partner to wineries across the world. This foundation can be felt across the company and the energy and passion is contagious. The technology, science and work that we are doing to help wineries make better wines is extremely rewarding and fun! I think what inspires me is that something so small as a closure can be so impactful to the taste and feel of a wine. We have so many people working here that are extremely talented and I just feel lucky to learn and grow from them.
What is your favorite aspect of your work?
The people! Not only do I love everyone that I work with at Nomacorc, but I also meet so many interesting and unique people from around the world. Most of the people who work in the wine industry have such a passion for what they do and are willing to share it with others. Being more of a “newbie” to the industry I have learned so much from journalists, colleagues, and our customers through casual conversations, meetings or even over a bottle of wine at dinner. It’s great to make so many connections and then see updates on social media about how their life is going or a new bottle they are trying or vineyard they are visiting. The people are what truly make the beverage industry so great. Plus, the wine drinking part isn’t so bad either!
What advice would you give college students considering a career working with enclosures/packaging in the beverage industry?
Embrace the unfamiliar. For those that aren’t exposed to the enclosures/packaging areas in the beverage industry (which most college students probably aren’t) this career path might seem intimidating or obscure. Don’t judge a book its cover. Within the packaging industry there are so many different areas of work including engineering, finance, sales, research and marketing. Connect with people that currently work in the industry and see if you can shadow with them for a day or intern for them for a semester. The best way to learn is to actually work. I think a lot college students have this stereotype that the only job in the beverage industry is working at a winery or being a salesperson. There’s a huge window of opportunity within the beverage industry with an array of different jobs that are all unique and great! All you need to do is connect with people, expose yourself to different areas and situations, and figure out which path you are willing to work towards and create for yourself.
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