Published on 5/12/2022

The connection between winemaking and orthopaedic surgery seems worlds apart. However, both are brought together by sharing staggering statistics when it comes to diversity and inclusion. According to the Women Winemakers of California and Beyond Organization, only 14% of all 4,200 wineries in California reported a woman as their lead winemaker in 2020. Similarly, in orthopaedics, the underrepresentation of women is even more disparaging, with the Association of American Medical College’s 2020 Physician Specialty Data Report finding only 5.8% of all practicing Orthopaedic Surgeons in the United States to be female – the lowest representation of women in all medical specialties.

To address this issue and influence great change requires trailblazers, innovators and charismatic leaders to unite and support each other. The Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) has made diversity and inclusion a top priority by launching several initiatives to ensure a welcoming environment and encourage all underrepresented minorities in medicine to consider a career path in orthopaedics. As the organization makes its way to San Francisco, California for its annual meeting, it seemed like a unique opportunity to bring together two industries, with common goals, to make change happen.

The female founders and leaders behind coveted wines that have partnered with AANA are noteworthy to say the least. Screaming Eagle was founded in 1992 by Jean Phillips, a Napa-based businesswoman whose idea to make a Cabernet from a tiny block of grapes transformed into a critically acclaimed delicacy. Celia Welch of the legendary Scarecrow wine was recently inducted into the Winemaker’s Hall of Fame. Ann Colgin, founder of the Colgin Cellars, and Director of Winemaking Allison Tauziet work closely together to create a limited yet prestigious Napa Valley red wine that is extremely rare to come by. Vine Hill Ranch winemaker, Francoise Peschonas a winemaker at Araujo Estate for over 20 years, was named 2019 Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle. Beth Novak Milliken, president and CEO of Spottswoode Estate Vineyard & Winery, played a key role in establishing the vineyard as one of the world’s great winegrowing sites and one of Napa Valley’s most iconic, well-respected wineries. Samantha Rudd not only serves as vintner for Rudd Estate but is also the owner of the acclaimed Press Steakhouse in St. Helena, California. These women achieved resounding success, whether through the creation of 100-point wines or establishing themselves as the best in their craft, through their unwavering determination to be at the top.

“I have always been a strong believer in leading by example,” Ms. Novak Milliken says. “I have a deep respect for organizations that pride themselves on doing the same. As women, we are often handed this stereotypical bias that prevents us from believing that we can lead and succeed. It’s my hope that with more women stepping into leadership roles, we can eventually put these types of biases to rest.”

The importance of diversity-first initiatives is a commitment that both AANA and the wine industry share. This past March, AANA held its first-ever joint Specialty Day program with the Ruth Jackson Orthopedic Society (RJOS) to bring attention to the long-standing gender disparity in orthopaedics, in addition to other diversity and inclusivity initiatives spearheaded by current AANA President Mark H. Getelman, M.D., FAANA. Likewise, the wine industry pledged in 2020 to improve upon its underrepresentation of marginalized groups within all of its sectors, including women. Over the last two years, the wine industry has been able to make tremendous strides towards diversity and inclusivity, including reexamining tasting grid standards of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in addition to involving more women in professional and leadership positions.

“One of the cornerstones of my presidential commitment is ensuring that AANA is at the forefront of improving diversity and inclusion within orthopaedics,” Dr. Getelman explains. “Coveted wines that are produced by the best female winemakers in the world will be offered during this superb opportunity that raises awareness towards these long-standing disparities.”

These female leaders in the winemaking business who are truly the “best of the best” in their craft will be donating their legendary wines to a true wine enthusiast’s fundraising event hosted by AANA. Acclaimed female winemakers and their donations of fine wines directly support AANA’s diversity-first initiative to encourage more women to enter the field of orthopaedics.

The fundraising event’s organizer Jason L. Dragoo, M.D., an AANA surgeon, team physician for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and avid wine collector, is thankful for this opportunity to advocate for change on AANA’s behalf.

“Growing up in Napa Valley, I’ve always respected wineries that achieve success by producing great wines year after year and appreciate that many of these wineries now have women at their helms,” says Dr. Dragoo. “I am truly thankful to AANA for recognizing this gender discrepancy and being an advocate for change, as well as the wine industry for their tremendous strides in promoting diversity.”

The Best of the Best event will be held at Kokkari Estiatorio in San Francisco on May 19th at 8 p.m. Looking to attend this prestigious event in support of women in orthopaedics? Purchase tickets today!

 

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