“Do they even know their behavior is wholly unacceptable, unprofessional, and often threatening?”

This topic became the underlying theme to our lengthy discussion with sommeliers Laura Pauli and Rachel Van Til on this week’s show, a two-parter that will conclude next week. It’s a reference to the hostile work environment (for women) that led to the New York Times’ explosive expose, “The Wine World’s Most Elite Circle Has a Sexual Harassment Problem,” by Julia Moskin, published on October 29th.

In her detailed story, not one, not two, but 21 women reported to the Times being sexually harassed, manipulated or assaulted by male master sommeliers. As the hosts read the story several weeks ago, we were struck by its similarity to the equally explosive allegations leveled at Hollywood’s Harvey Weinstein just two years earlier by some of Hollywood’s most high profile actresses.

In this episode, we depart from our usually fun and upbeat topics to tackle this serious, ongoing problem. Why do some men in the wine industry demand sexual favors from women in the industry in exchange for advancement in some form? Why have women put up with it for so long? Our guests, each of whom have dealt with inappropriate behavior from male colleagues (as have all the hosts), recount these experiences as well as offer insights on what measures could be taken to reduce the bad behavior and ensure more minorities, women and persons of color, have equal opportunities to their white, male counterparts.’

In this show, hear how Laura Pauli, Chef and Sommelier here in San Francisco with Cucina Testa Rosa, considered a business trip with a male colleague that would have provided valuable networking introductions and connection, only to learn later the colleague’s offer wasn’t on the up ‘n’ up. This was one of several experiences Chef Pauli felt she had been manipulated by male colleagues to do things that were not necessarily “work related.”

Rachel Van Til is the Wine Club Manager and Lead Sommelier at The Clubs at Houston Oaks in Houston, Texas. She is one of the 21 women sommeliers whose story was told in the Times’ story as well as in other publications that began following up on the allegations.

Tune in to learn about higher education opportunities in the wine industry; the steps being taken by the Court of Master Sommeliers (CMS-A) to prevent future sexual misconduct allegations; and whether or not these women believe it’s even possible for the CMS-A to recover from these abuses. After all, if men and other persons in powerful positions aren’t even aware their behavior is unacceptable within the industry, how will they even know they much change?