This year’s Women’s History Month theme is: “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.” Throughout March, Colonial will honor women who are innovators, creators and trailblazers in our industry.
Women’s History Month Schedule
Subject to change
March 2 & March 8 • 4-7 pm: Alexia Elichiry
When Alexia Elichiry began working at Trio's Restaurant while studying at UALR, she didn't know her after-school job would put her on the path to opening her fine wine and spirits wholesale distribution business.
A first-generation American, Elichiry has a rich French heritage and has spent time in the south of France strengthening her viticulture expertise. She was born in California but moved to Arkansas at a young age, and considers the Natural State home.
She continued her hospitality experience at Trio's until 2011 and then at Ciao Baci restaurant for a year. Elichiry considers herself fortunate to be guided by the strong women who run each of these restaurants.
Elichiry is host of "Vive la Vie", a 30-minute show devoted to food, wine, and travel on KABF 88.3FM, at 9:30 am on Fridays.
March 15 • 4-7 pm: Sue Harshaw & Maggie Walters
Sue Harshaw’s career in the wine and spirits industry began 50 years ago in southern California with an office job at a local distributorship. At that time, it was unheard of for women in the industry to have a sales job. Sales positions were the exclusive domain of men.
Slowly, things changed and after nine years Sue earned her first sales opportunity. As a commissioned salesperson, she was earning equal pay for equal work for the first time in her life. She never looked back.
Over the next forty years, Sue held many positions in the industry: sales territory; multi-state manager for national spirits companies; managing wholesale companies in different states; and working with boutique wineries from around the world.
Maggie Walters has been in the food, beverage and hospitality field for seven years. She started in Colorado working for both a French Chocolatier and a high-end catering company, often finding herself behind the bar during receptions.
From there she worked as a server on a private yacht on Lake Powell, and then moved to Hawaii to work on a private estate as a server for dinner and wine service.
She was bitten by the "wine bug” and moved back to Little Rock. Maggie is currently a wine consultant at Colonial Wines and Spirits and studying for her Advanced level certificate through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She intends to continue to study, has set her certification goals high, and looks forward to a bright future in the industry.
March 16 • 4-7 pm: Liz Ransom
Liz Ransom is the Arkansas State Manager for Beam Suntory. Growing up in Arkansas, she had the privilege of working for her father while in college. He was president of a small liquor distributor in Little Rock. This is where her interest in the industry first took root.
After a four-year career as a teacher, which included recognition as Teacher of the Year in 1997, Liz moved to Texas to work as an on-premise sales representative at Republic Beverage. She knew that she had found her career. After Republic Beverage, she took a position as account manager for Glazer Distributors.
After 6 years with Glazers, she became Texas area manager for Proximo Spirits. This is where she got her first retail experience, calling on retail liquor chains. Liz worked with Cooper Spirits—distillers of St Germain—where she was the state manager for Texas and Arkansas. She began working with Beam in October 2012.
March 18 • 1-4 pm: Margie Raimondo
Margie Raimondo is a great example of a professional woman who decided to pursue her passion and completely change careers. After more than two decades in a marketing and operations career in Silicon Valley high-tech, she moved from California to the Arkansas Ozarks to start a winery.
Moving from high tech to hospitality seems like a major transition except that Margie grew up in a large, Italian family that celebrated daily life though food and wine. Margie’s love for travel has allowed her to explore the wine regions of Italy, France, Australia, and New Zealand.
Her love for pairing wine and food and a keen interest in expanding her culinary knowledge prompted her to begin selling extra virgin olive oils and premium balsamic vinegars under the Raimondo Winery brand. She shares her recipes on a food blog and by offering cooking classes under the brand name: Simply Sicilian.
March 22 • 4-7 pm: Sandy Walheim
Sandy Walheim oversees the Sonoma County wine program for Francis Ford Coppola Winery. She and her team skillfully craft the Francis Coppola Reserve wines; Director’s Cut, Director’s, and Archimedes (the winery’s flagship wine). Her attention to detail and comprehensive knowledge of crafting small lot, limited production wines place her in the spotlight as one of Sonoma County’s most admired winemakers.
As the daughter of a Navy submarine captain, Sandy had the opportunity to travel around the United States; she immediately took an interest in California, where she joined University of California-Davis. After interning with Domaine Chandon, she graduated with a degree in fermentation science and launched her career in winemaking.
Sandy worked with Robert Mondavi Winery, Cain Vineyard & Winery and Beringer Vineyards. She earned a degree in management from St. Mary’s College. Joining Healdsburg’s Simi Winery as Associate Winemaker, she spearheaded the winery’s conversion to estate-bottled wines. In this role, she became an expert in the myriad of nuances throughout Sonoma County’s distinct terroirs. As Sandy puts it, “A lot of winemaking is problem solving of some sort, which can be really fun, like working a puzzle.” She thrives on the challenges that each vintage, varietal and appellation present – and looks forward to the tremendously gratifying aspect of bringing each wine to its finest quality potential.
March 29 • 4-7 pm: Audrey House
In 1998, Audrey House bought 20 acres of land in Altus, Arkansas, from Al Wiederkehr. The land included 10 acres of Arkansas' first ever Chardonnay vineyard – planted in 1982 – which hadn't been pruned or harvested for quite some time.
That first season Audrey corralled friends to live part-time in tents in order to nurture her Chardonnay vineyard back into shape. Over the course of the next year, she divided her time between working her existing vineyard, planting new grape varieties, and building a house and the vineyard's original winery.
Today, 36 of Dragonfly Ranch's 50 acres are planted with varieties that include: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Cynthiana, Muller Thurgau, Schreube, Kerner, Orameinsteiner, Vignoles, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, and Petite Sirah. In 2001, Audrey opened Chateau aux Arc Winery.