Innovators

Bringing Wellness to the International Wine Community

With the platform A Balanced Glass, Rebecca Hopkins and Cathy Huyghe are building a professional community that prioritizes self-care

Rebecca Hopkins. Photo courtesy of A Balanced Glass.

Awarded for: A Balanced Glass founder Rebecca Hopkins and co-author Cathy Huyghe are leading the conversation on mental health in the beverage industry, banishing stigmas and promoting wellness.

Working in the drinks industry can take a toll. The demands—which to some sound like perks—are many. Frequent travel commitments, a perpetually full glass, and workdays that extend far into the night are common, often leading to irregular schedules, unhealthy habits, and eventual burnout. The key to longevity, say industry veterans, is to find balance. 

That’s where A Balanced Glass, the wine community’s champion for wellness, comes in. In mid-2017, Rebecca Hopkins, a 25-year wine industry veteran who is a partner and the vice president of communications of Folio Fine Wine Partners, based in Napa, California, found herself questioning why, in an era of equality and empowerment, wine professionals weren’t talking about alcohol and health? So she published an essay in a German wine trade publication that was a call to action, asking the industry to consider how to more effectively promote self-care and wellness. 

Hopkins’s article struck a nerve, unleashing a torrent of emails from colleagues and strangers around the globe asking her for information and advice. Based on that burst of interest, Hopkins, along with Cathy Huyghe, a journalist and yoga instructor, founded A Balanced Glass—an online global community of wine business professionals seeking a healthier way to work and live.

A Balanced Glass members practice yoga with attendants at the Aspen Food & Wine event. Photo courtesy of A Balanced Glass.

Besides their interest in wine, Hopkins and Huyghe had formed a bond years earlier over a shared love of yoga, meditation, and wellness in general––a topic that was not being given adequate attention in the wine industry at the time, according to Hopkins. “No one,” she says, “was addressing the realities about working with alcohol––how it plays a role in our daily work, and the impact [it has] on our mental and physical health and our long-term well-being.”

Hopkins and Huyghe decided to see what kind of response they would get with a Breathwork and Meditation for Better Business workshop at the March 2018 Women of the Vine & Spirits symposium. At the event, the duo also kicked off a 30-day daily wellness newsletter, and the web forum A Balanced Glass was officially launched. In its early days, the platform aimed to help wine professionals connect with one another and manage wellness, providing advice, tips, and resources. 

Today its objective remains the same, but the format of A Balanced Glass has evolved as its audience has grown over the past two years. Though it exists largely online, A Balanced Glass now also reaches its community in person, with lunches, organized talks, meditation and breathing workshops, and wellness presentations at industry conferences. Hopkins and Huyghe plan to launch a meditation series in early 2020 that is specifically designed for the wine community.


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The response to A Balanced Glass from its global audience has been overwhelmingly positive. “A Balanced Glass has helped give this industry a voice beyond the alcohol,” says Jennifer Reichardt, owner and winemaker at Raft Wines in Sonoma County. Reichardt says she regularly reads the weekly insights and attends the organization’s events. 

Recalling one of the early meditation workshops Hopkins and Huyghe taught, Reichart says, “Those 15 minutes helped ground my experience, and I still use the techniques they taught today in my day to day life. Taking the moments in our ever busy world is so important, and I am so grateful they have given our industry the lift it needed to break out of the mold.”

What has wellness looked like for the two women since rolling out this resource for others while maintaining their own work schedules? “Not always balanced!” Hopkins says, laughing. “Bringing a project to life is gratifying and inspiring, but it also means late nights and overthinking—and it’s overwhelming, as the scale of the opportunities and pitfalls of the wine business come to light.” Helping her find balance in all this has been her coauthor and ally. “Without Cathy’s vocal support, dedication, hard work, editing skills, and support,” Hopkins says, “I doubt we would be at the stage where we are.”

Céline Bossart is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, New York, who specializes in the worlds of wine, spirits, and travel. Her work can be found in Liquor.com, Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Town & Country, and DuJour magazine, among other publications; in her spare time, Céline is usually traveling or drinking a glass of extra brut (or both).

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