Growing up in Temecula and drinking wine, Cassandra Schaeg was inspired to create a plan to leave her corporate job and start her own business in the wine industry. Schaeg wanted to create a space that could make wine approachable and also showcase women and BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) wine and beer creators.
“The pay or the cost of entry in the wine and beer space is extremely expensive, not just from a currency but resources, networking — it is a white male-dominated industry, both wine and beer. If you are a woman or you are someone of color who has been able to figure out how to get into that industry, pave the way, create your own brand, make a name for yourself, put everything on the line to create a phenomenal brand, your story should be told. So, that’s what I set out to do. And, part of it too is people would come in here and not believe I was the owner because you don’t see a lot of black women owning wine bars or black women owning brands in this space. So, it was more, people want to know what my story is when I’m here so I need to make sure I’m also sharing the stories of the brands that I carry as well,” said Cassandra Schaeg, Founder & CEO of SIP Wine & Beer.
Schaeg took “a leap of faith” and opened SIP Wine & Beer in 2016 in Escondido. Today, more than 75% of the wine and beer at her shop is produced by women or people of color. She describes her space on S. Orange Street as laid-back and relaxing with great music, wine and cheese.
“Sometimes we have this connotation that wine is only consumed by people who make a certain amount of money, you have to have your pinkie up and you’re supposed to know what to taste and smell when you’re drinking wine and that’s just simply not the case. I created a space where people can learn how to do that or just come in and enjoy wine and beer without feeling the pressures of knowing the education or nuances behind it,” said Schaeg.
Your visit to SIP Wine & Beer might include a wine tasting from Camins 2 Dreams in Lompoc, CA, created by Mireia Taribó and Tara Gomez, who Schaeg says is the only Native American woman winemaker in the country. Or, you might drink a viognier from Rideau Vineyard in Santa Barbara County created by Iris Rideau, the first female African-American winery owner in the U.S.
Up next for Schaeg: she’s preparing to launch season 1 of “Fresh Glass,” a series she co-created to tell the stories of women and BIPOC entrepreneurs in spaces like wine and beer. The series will air in early September in California and air nationally in January through PBS.