International Women’s Day: meet the woman behind the UK’s rosé wine brand intent on taking on Provence

Bold and passionate are words we’d use to describe most of the winemakers we work with, but when you’re a woman working in what is still a male dominated industry, these descriptions must apply even more.

Slowly but surely, women are making advances in the world of wine. In the UK there are 207 Masters of Wine, and 74 (or 36%) are female. It’s not a 50/50 split but it’s a sign women are being represented in the industry more and more.

This International Women’s Day – Wednesday the 8th of March 2023 – we wanted to shine a light on some of our favourite women working in wine, starting with Elisha Cannon, Co-Founder of Folc wine, an English rosé brand intent on rivalling Provence.

She set up the brand, alongside her husband Tom, in the midst of the global Covid pandemic in 2020, and three years on we spoke to her about how the business was shaped and how it has changed.

How and why did you decide to start a wine business?

Tom and I first thought of launching an English wine business in around 2015, while doing a blind wine tasting. We were surprised by the amazing quality of English wine and didn’t understand why no one was focusing on producing rosé, when the category continues to outgrow otherss each year. 

We didn’t have professional experience in the industry, but what we did have was a real appreciation and passion for wine. Being from a different background gender, race and age wise compared to most other producers, we thought we could add a unique perspective to

We then challenged ourselves to learn and understand everything we could about the English wine industry, from the grape growing process, to selling wine domestically and overseas, and spoke to and visited as many vineyards and wineries as possible .

How was launching Folc during the middle of a global pandemic? Did you have to pivot at all?

It was tough to say the least but we were fortunate that we had a business model that provided flexibility and so we adapted quickly. We moved from selling at physical sites only to selling directly to customers on a new digital platform, putting in place a delivery service and making the most of social media to get the word out. Fortunately for us despite the pandemic, our customers continued to support small local businesses and were keen to keep up their wine intake! 

Elisha says the wine industry has some way to go when it comes to diversity

Since then several more national and international crises have unfolded. How have you managed to stay focused and motivated throughout this?

We find it really important to be mindful of everything happening around us but to focus only on the things that we can control. With national and international events, costs for raw materials such as glass have spiralled, which is something that could get passed onto the customer, but for us it has prompted further discussions on vessel formats and the future, instead of sticking to the norm if there hadn’t been a crisis. Delays are also inevitable, so planning everything very much ahead of schedule is a must. 

Has reality of running a wine business differed from what you imagined?

I think everyone has a vision of what it’s like to have your own wine business. Living on a vineyard, spending time outdoors in the sunshine and enjoying lots of wine. The reality is that you can do all of those things, but wine is not unlike any other business. There are agricultural aspects of the business which are more often than not at the behest of mother nature (think frost risk, rain levels, sunshine hours, insects) which could wipe out your entire vintage. There are the scientific and artistic aspects of the business: the winemaking process, dictating the style of the wine. And then there are the public facing side of the business: how to actually market and sell your wine. Let’s not forget the operational side too of sourcing materials, designing your product, building a website and socials, finance, legal, HR – the list is endless but the perks can be too! 

What are your thoughts on diversity in the wine industry? How do you think it can be improved?

Sadly the wine industry has some way to go when it comes to diversity, including gender, race and sexual orientation. There are some incredible women who work in wine and the opportunities are there, but unless you can see someone who looks like you doing a role you’d like to do, the wine world can sometimes feel very intimidating and closed off. 

Ultimately I feel that the change needs to come from within so we make it a priority to showcase our diversity at Folc on various platforms to encourage anyone considering a career in wine to be brave and not let other bias affect something that you want. Despite it being more difficult for a woman, and/or a person of colour to climb the wine ladder, there is a community within the wine industry that is growing and who will be there to support you. 

Are there any other female winemakers, producers or growers that you find inspiring within the industry?

America Brewer from Oastbrook Estate in Sussex, England is a real breath of fresh air. Originally from Brazil and not from the wine industry until recently, she brings a real sense of fun from her heritage to wine, including hosting tours of their vineyard in her statement high heels rain or shine and growing and producing all of their own wine on their estate.  

Finally, what’s next for Folc?

Folc has already proven that it can rival Provencal rosé at international wine awards, now we want to spread this message and create the homeland for English rosé, giving people the opportunity to live out their own English countryside dream with a sip of our wine. Watch this space!

About Laithwaite's Wine

We’re wine nuts, not wine snobs. We’ve been exploring the world on a mission to find great wine for the last 50 years. If you love adventure as much as we do, you belong with us. We know our winegrowers like family – and in some cases they actually are. Expect to hear from these legends of the soil, see behind the scenes access into vineyards and wineries and get news on fresh finds from our travels on this page. Drink responsibly. Visit for further health information. You must be aged 18 or over to follow.

1 thought on “International Women’s Day: meet the woman behind the UK’s rosé wine brand intent on taking on Provence

  1. Pingback: International Women’s Day: Seven female winemakers – Wines Article – Wines Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *