Friday, March 18, 2011

Hip + Urban Girl of the Week: Angela Aiello

Growing up with a booming local food and wine industry in her backyard and coming from a family of entrepreneurs – Angela Aiello was destined to become a wine entrepreneur, a lover of all things gourmet and our hip + urban girl of the week!

What made you want to become a wine evangelist?

I grew up drinking the local juice (Rieslings have always been my ultimate fav) and after spending ten plus years in the food and beverage industry I wanted to share my knowledge and build wine confidence in my circle of friends and now my wine club. I began my teachings by throwing social wine parties, hosting wine tours, and leading wine tutorials – the best part was that they all involved a glass of wine with friends – and what could be better?

Personally I love watching a friend/wine club member start their wine journey by only knowing wine as “red & white” and move their knowledge of wine into Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc. It’s an amazing thing to witness and a cool form of social empowerment for the beginner wine enthusiasts.

The wine industry is pretty competitive so what do you think sets you apart from others?

I would actually disagree. Although in any industry you’ll get competition, I feel that I have had many supporters in the wine industry all of whom have helped me get to where I am at now. Personally I think this industry is big enough for everyone and everyone has their own niche ideas and followers.

I think that what sets myself or iYellow Wine Club apart from others is my approach to wine. I think wine should always be fun, you should drink what you like and learn a little or as much as you need to enjoy it!

What is a typical day in the life of Ange Aiello like?

Well I have to admit, I don’t really do mornings. I’d rather work late into the night than wake up early, but I definitely do try to get moving between 9-10am. The thing with working in wine is that there are always tastings and dinners to go to in the evening so typically my nights are filled with such.

I also have to admit that I really do try hard to live, work and play in my neighbourhood. I live in Liberty Village and my office is a 7 minute walk away. So after my 10am call (which I planned the week before to get my butt out of bed at a reasonable time), I make myself a quick breakfast sandwich, down a glass of V8 and head out the door. My clothes are picked out the night before – I can’t handle a wardrobe dilemma in the morning!

After arriving at the office and catching up with all the cool peeps, I’m checking email, signing for a wine delivery and trying to firm up plans for after work. I either grab a lunch - which I’ve made a meeting for – or I work through lunch, I spend a couple more hours at the office catching up on emails (these days it feels like email overload), return some calls, update and head back home to get ready for my evening plans.

Sometimes it’s a tasting, a wine event, a wine school class or a wine dinner, but typically there is always something in my calendar. However, I do still have great nights where I lounge at home, crawl on Facebook and have a hot bubble bath. I would say that 95% of my evenings all end with a good glass of wine be it business or pleasure!

What are some of the disadvantages of your job?

The work of an entrepreneur is probably the most stressful and rewarding career you could ever have. The biggest challenge is the highs and lows you face, and trying to take each day in stride. For me being an entrepreneur means my life is my work. My personal and work lines can become blurred and learning to balance it all can be a bit challenging at times. It has taken me some time but I am becoming a pro at finding a great work/social balance to keep me normal and happy.

There is also an element of personal responsibility with working in the alcohol industry. You need to be aware of yourself, your limits and your surroundings. I suppose I drink more wine than average, but I know when to go home and/or say “No thank you” to a glass of vino. Starting young in the industry taught me discipline and social responsibility as well.

What are a couple tips on wine pairing, cool wineries to visit, etc. that you have for hip + urban girls?

Learning about wine can be a really cool thing, and the best part is that the research is fun too! Wine Confidence is really all about learning and sipping!

If you’re looking for great winery experiences and live in the city come on an iYellow Wine Club tour – we are planning regular visits to wine country where you can visit some of my favourite wineries in Ontario Wine Country. At our iYellow Wine Schools we show you how to pair fantastic wines with great food. Also has great tips in our blog section.

Your Top 5 Varietals are...

Riesling, Chardonnay, Sparkling, Pinot Noir, Syrah…and of course Icewine!

Tell us more about iYellow Wine Club!

No matter how you want to learn about wine, iYellow can help build your wine confidence. You can learn socially at our events where you can talk about wine with friends in a relaxed and social environment and meet other wine lovers. You can experience wine on our tours as we visit the vineyards and talk with winemakers. You can formally learn about wine at our interactive and approachable wine school, and you can also learn on your own with our new wine club website where you can read articles, watch videos and interact with other members. You can also join our group on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out our pics on Flickr.

What did you study in University/College? Would you have done anything differently?

I studied Business Communications and have a four year honours degree from Brock University and I feel it really gave many of the tools I needed to shape my business and fuse together my passion and career. The other great education I got was by working directly in the Niagara food and wine industry (At Vineland Estates Winery & Peller Estates Winery). I worked at local wineries while putting myself through school and gained much support from some of the greatest people in the industry wine today.

Best place(s) to shop in the city?

I’m kind of a “vintage” girl actually! I love a good bargain or bringing a cool piece of clothing or jewellery back to life. So I guess some of my favourite places to shop are at vintage stores in the city (or even better outside of the city).

Typically though I head to places like Want Boutique, Roots and BCBG if I’ve got something specific in mind – but only with my stylist, I have no idea about fashion and would live in a t-shirt and hoody if you let me!

Tell us about your neighbourhood and what you like best about it.

I like Liberty Village because I walk everywhere. I don’t own a car so I like when I have everything close by. Here are a few of the reasons I like my “hood”:

  • My office is a 7 minute walk
  • Great amenities close by: banks, grocery store, Summer farmer’s market, public transit within walking distance
  • It’s a relatively quiet neighbourhood with lots of cool people

What do you wish someone told you when you were younger and just starting out?

I wish I learned more about financial responsibility, growth and strategy. But I can’t complain, I think that I’ve definitely learned a lot in my 29 years on thus far and have some really great mentors by my side.

What life advice do you have for hip + urban girls out there trying to figure out what they want to do?

1. Find what you love to do & find an industry. Then go and achieve your dreams, but learn to be patient, it doesn’ t happen instantly.

2. Believe in yourself – sounds like an easy tip, but it isn’ t. Believing you can reach your dreams is the only way you will reach them.

3. Don’ t be afraid of hard work – Success always tastes better when you’ ve worked hard for it. When you feel like you have earned something you appreciate it that much more.

4. Allow a Mentor to find you - The first step is realizing that a mentor can make a difference; the second step is being open enough to let one find you and help when needed.

5. Don’ t give up – Success doesn’ t come without its challenges, face them straight in the eye and learn to appreciate what they teach you each and every time.

Website: Twitter: @iyellowwineclub

Select photos courtesy of Erik Rotter and Jennifer Henderson.

Inspired by Angela? Meet other fantastic Hip + Urban Girls of the Week who are living their dream life.


  1. Amazing! Angela has accomplished so much at such a young age. She's definitely an inspiration.

  2. Very encouraging story Ange! Thanks for the tips and the motivation. You are the best.