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Becca De Kleine’s Perfect Pairing: Sustainability, Diversity and Happy Employees

Meet Becca De Kleine, winemaker turned GM and Director of Operations at Four Feathers Wine Services. She’s paving the way for a brighter, more diverse, sustainable future and leading in her own authentic way…. all while raising 7-year-old twin daughters!

March 22, 2023

The month of March is Women’s History Month, and Encompass is taking the opportunity to reflect on the significant impact that women have on the beverage industry and celebrate those who are trailblazing the path to gender equality. 

Each week, we are going to highlight a different part of the BevAlc business. This week, we sat down with General Manager and Director of Operations at Four Feathers Wine Services, Becca De Kleine. Becca and Four Feathers leverage the intuitive cloud wine software, vintrace by Encompass. She grew up in the wine industry, stepping into leadership early in her career. She shares her refreshing perspective on how to authentically lead in a male-dominated industry while also nurturing a diverse team environment that is setting up Four Feathers, and the wider wine industry, for future success. 

What’s the biggest challenge you face as a leader in the industry? How have you overcome it?

Early in my career, I was promoted to a managerial role as a young woman leading a group of diverse employees of all genders. During that time I learned that being a woman in a leadership role is all about balance. Like trying to make sure that I’m being an effective, compassionate leader without getting steamrolled. There is a fine balance between being firm in your ideas and collaborative with your team. There is a lot of power in being a woman in a leadership role and when I think about what type of leader I want to be, my goal isn’t to lead like a man, it’s to be myself. I’ve learned to find the balance between emulating role models in my career and embracing styles that are authentic to me. As a mother - I am also trying to find the balance of when to lean on my maternal instincts with my team and when to lead with a more firm approach.

I’m of the opinion that if you're not learning, you’re not growing.

Becca De Kleine

General Manager and Director of Operations, Four Feathers Wine Services

What’s one thing we can all do to support women in leadership roles in the industry?

Support to me looks like empathy and compassion as to what different people’s schedules look like. We need to allow anyone, regardless of gender, to have flexibility in their schedule. I’ve found that this is a huge help, especially for women, when considering family obligations and motherhood. We all have wants and needs outside of work and I ensure that my team has time and support to pursue those other passions, whatever they may be. Trusting my people from day one has always created stronger teams, happier employees and more creativity at work.

What career advice do you have for women just getting started in the industry?

Try everything and don’t be shy! It’s so important to get involved in the industry and network. Volunteer your time with non-profit groups or associations that promote the industry, and you’ll get out what you put in.  It’s a lot of fun!

I spend a lot of my time volunteering in the industry in addition to the work I do at Four Feathers. I’m a proud member of Washington Wine Growers and the Washington Wine Commission where we promote WA wine, educate on regional issues and offer resources for wineries in the state. I also volunteer with the Wine Technical Group Board which works to improve the quality of Washington wine through community. I’ve gained so much knowledge and a great network by being a part of these groups. Even outside of the industry - I suggest volunteering in groups that inspire you, we need more mentors to help women, girls and people of diverse backgrounds grow professionally. Even if you're not interested in leadership - have an open mind of what you could do over the course of your career! 

What contribution to the industry are you most proud of in your career?

I’m really proud of the work I’ve done with the Washington Wine Growers. We released a program called Sustainable WA, which is a 3rd party sustainable certification for Washington wine grapes that covers all pillars of sustainability: environmentally sound, socially equitable, and economically viable. This past year, Four Feathers made a huge push to certify all of our vineyards this year under the Sustainable WA certification, which will help make our wine, and Washington wine in general more relevant. Anyone can claim sustainability, but a 3rd party certification really raises the bar and helps the region level up dramatically. Beyond doing good for the environment, it’s an HR audit that enables employees to feel more fulfilled in their work and progress up the career ladder in ways that aren’t always available under the processes we’ve followed historically. 

I’m also really proud of the work I've done here at Four Feathers. 10 years ago we were a custom crush operation, and since then we have diversified to ramp up our winemaking program, packaging, bulk wine, and our marketplace. We are building a team of really amazing people who are the bedrock of the organization.

Supporting the families of our amazing employees at Four Feathers is a contribution in and of itself that I am proud to be a part of.

Becca De Kleine

General Manager and Director of Operations, Four Feathers Wine Services

As the industry landscape changes, what would you like to see in the next 5 years?

The wine industry needs to innovate to address younger and more diverse markets. I’m looking forward to making wines that pair well with diverse foods and the industry being more open-minded about different styles of wine needed to address new markets. I’m excited to see marketing to a wider range of people in general. As we know, the population that currently drinks the most wine are aging. While nothing is going to be solved overnight, we can ensure that the teams we hire and train as tomorrow’s leaders reflect the diverse, new populations that will be drinking our product in the future. 

I’m really excited about the newer people joining her team in both the lab and the cellar. It’s the most diverse group of people I’ve ever seen in the industry. These are the people that we teach and mentor to become winemakers someday. We are planting the right seeds now to grow this next generation of leaders. Currently, on my winemaking team of six, five are women. This didn’t happen intentionally, it just reflects the candidates that were the most qualified for the job.

What drink are you currently loving?

Ohh my cocktail of choice is currently a Bee’s Knees. I’m craving the freshness of spring right now. I am also loving exploring different Chenin Blancs during this season.

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