Remi Cohen, chief operating officer at Lede Family Wines, has worked in the wine industry since 2001. But that wasn’t always her plan.
Born and raised in East Brunswick, New Jersey, Cohen migrated to the West Coast and attended UC Berkeley with plans to become a doctor or genetics professor.
Upon receiving a degree in molecular and cellular biology, Cohen realized that she preferred plant science and enrolled in the Viticulture and Enology program at U.C. Davis, where she received her master’s degree. Cohen later completed her M.B.A. at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.
Cohen said she was drawn to working in the wine industry because “it has so many different facets; from agriculture to chemistry to wine making...”
In addition, “There’s an artistry to it that sounded really appealing,” along with the social component of drinking and sharing wine.
1. Which three people would you most like to have dinner with?
- (Author) Malcolm Gladwell. I would like to speak with him in depth about his psychological theories behind what makes people successful.
- Steve Jobs. His creativity and innovation are unparalleled, and I would love to hear about his vision of the future.
- Howard Stern. I have listened to Howard Stern’s radio show since I was a kid, and he has helped me not take life too seriously. I would like to express my gratitude to him and have a good time doing so!
2. What job would you like to try/not try?
Try: I think a career as a forensic detective would be fascinating. Science, psychology and problem-solving are all favorite activities of mine. I love watching “Forensic Files”!
Not try: Skydiving instructor. Not only do I not want to jump out of a plane, but I wouldn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s life when they were jumping out of a plane!
3. What was your first job?
I worked in a ski shop while I was in high school in New Jersey.
4. How did you get into the wine industry?
As a pre-med student at UC Berkeley, I had the opportunity to work in a plant and mycology lab and fell in love with plant biology.
I decided I would rather pursue a career in a related field than go to medical school.
I was investigating different programs for graduate school and discovered the Viticulture and Enology program at UC Davis.
It seemed like the perfect fit, with disciplines including plant biology, agriculture, and chemistry, but also marketing and sales, which would make a career in the industry dynamic and fun.
5. What is the biggest challenge the wine industry has faced?
Wine is an agricultural product, and as such, we are faced with all the uncertainty that comes with the weather.
You have free articles remaining.
Unlike many industries that produce a product for sale, we have less control over quality and production levels than many industries.
Fortunately, Napa Valley is one of the most ideal regions in the world to grow wine grapes, so that mitigates a lot of that risk.
6. What’s on your to-do list?
Anyone who has worked with me knows that I love lists. I have numerous notes on my phone, and I have sticky notes all over my desk and in my car.
Right now, I am preparing for a business trip to Los Angeles to promote our wines, working on allocations of our flagship wine, Poetry Cabernet Sauvignon, for the export market, and working with the winemakers and winemaking team to ensure that the Cliff Lede Vineyards and FEL Wines harvests go smoothly.
7. Who do you most admire in the business world?
In the wine business, I admire Maggie Henriquez who is the CEO of Krug.
She is from Venezuela, and she has more than 25 years of experience as president or CEO of companies in the food and wine industry.
I admire her fresh perspective at Krug, and the fact that she has developed innovative, creative ideas while maintaining the brand’s integrity and luxury positioning of a classic Champagne house.
8. What is one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?
I have been contemplating pursuing a real estate license.
I think that would be useful in my career in terms of property acquisition and sales, but also would be a useful asset to me personally.
9. If you could change one thing about the wine industry, what would it be?
I have always been so impressed and grateful for the level of collaboration on the grapegrowing and winemaking side of the wine business. The generosity of other vintners has been pivotal throughout my career.
As COO, my position now focuses on sales and marketing in addition to production. I believe the industry could do a better job working together on the sales and marketing side of things, sharing data, success stories, and challenges so that we can all rise together.
10. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
I am the artistic director for the World Beat Dance Collective here in Napa Valley.
We are a fun, casual group that celebrates dance traditions from Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and beyond, blended with modern musical influences. We have dance classes and occasional community performances.