Vegan Wines are Making A Splash

by Priya Rao

We’ve all heard that 2019 was the ‘year of the vegan’. We may soon be declaring an upcoming year to be the ‘year of vegan wines’. 

Consumer demand has been on the rise for vegan-friendly wines as more people become aware of the fact that wine in not inherently vegan. Yet, while the average wine drinker has been waking up to this fact, it’s taken a while for the wine world to catch up and understand how to respond to this uptick in interest and desire to support wines that are made without the use of animal proteins.

That too is changing and Canada’s first, female Master Sommelier, Jen Huether, is on the cutting edge. She’s the first Master Sommelier in the world to focus on vegan wine and on wine pairings for plant-based food and launched The Social Herbivore to focus on elevated pairings for plant-based food and wine. She’s also writing the world’s first book devoted to wine pairings for vegan food.

She’s also moderating a seminar on this topic featuring Jackson Family Wines (the ninth-largest wine producer in the USA) and Barbara Philip MW (Master of Wine) who is a buyer for the British Columbia liquor store. 

When a topic hits the radar of Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers you know it’s more than a ‘trend’. It’s time that winemakers, restaurants, hotels and other places where wine is served to snap to attention. 

“We know that vegan is a lifestyle and not a diet, and when you put it in the context of food & wine it is an emerging demographic. If you’re ignoring or don’t know how to address the topic of vegan wine and vegan wine & food pairings, you’re missing out on an opportunity to connect with that portion of the consumer base,” says Huether. 

Do you have a vegan restaurant, or even some vegan options on your menu? Do your servers and sommeliers know which wines on your list might be vegan-friendly? Do they know how to recommend wines to pair with plant-based food? These are some of the reasons you might want to listen in on this session and come armed with questions so you can train your staff on how to best serve your clientele.

The seminar is part of the Harvest Seminar Series, (Sept 28-Nov 2, 2020) a virtual conference for women in the wine and hospitality industries held annually by Femmes du Vin

Vegan Wines: Embracing Green Wines and a Plant-Based Philosophy 

Oct 5th, 12pm ET 

With plant-based food trending for several reasons including environmental, animal rights and health reasons the world of wine is also changing. An uptick in this plant-based philosophy and top plant-based restaurants has created an emerging trend in the wine industry that requires our attention. It is not only trendy, it’s important and it’s here to stay. We will dive into what makes a wine Vegan or Vegan Friendly, what are the certifications around them and why a winery would choose to (or not to) certify. Finally, we will discuss how to pair wines with plant-based foods and how to find wines that qualify as Vegan Friendly and certified. 

With the participation of some of the biggest names in the wine industry, the Harvest series explores other ‘earth friendly’ winemaking practices such as natural wines and carbon-neutral wines. All virtual sessions are accessible from around the world on a PWYC (pay what you can) model with funds going to their scholarship program. Learn more about Femmes du Vin and the seminar series.

Jen Huether, Moderator
Barbara Philip MW, Speaker
Gilian Handelman, Speaker
France Gonzalez, Speaker
Sunny Gandara, Speaker


A foodie and wine lover, Priya switched to a vegetarian diet in 1995 and then to a vegan one in 2011. An entertainer since childhood, she’s had a lot of time to think about how to translate her love of hosting and cooking for people from meat and potatoes to vino and veggies.

Priya had previously hosted vegan food and wine events in Toronto as part of the duo A Vine Romance, appearing on Breakfast Television, as guest wine experts on 640AM and Rogers Daytime, and writing articles for Prince Edward County’s Grapevine Magazine, Restaurants Canada and She also created and co-hosted the tv show, THE DRINK, for Bell FIBE TV1.

In 2018, Priya founded – through which she promotes athletes, fashionistas, businesses, and more as she showcases various aspects of living a fabulous plant-powered life. Priya has since spoken and shared her knowledge of vegan food and wine pairings at Toronto’s Veg Fest (the largest vegetarian food festival in North America!) and at other local vegetarian events and conferences, as well as acting as MC for several vegan events around the city.

As part of Priya’s multifaceted life, she is the Eastern Director for First Weekend Club — a national organization that promotes Canadian film, where she is the lead on-camera host for interviews with incredible Canadian talent.

These days Priya is most often found with a glass of wine in hand entertaining guests at her vegan retreat home, Terra, in Ontario wine country.

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