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Women, Wine, and Wings

Jill Osur’s Journey To Open Conversation on Gender, Racial, and LGBTQ+ Equality through Teneral Wines

Women drinking wine and talking

The word “teneral” describes a dragonfly just after metamorphosis, when it’s most vulnerable, with colorless wings still unable to fly. Within a few days, it gains full color in its wings, spreads them, and flies with grit and grace.

Teneral Wine Cellars founder Jill Osur chose the teneral dragonfly as their logo as it represents the potential power of all women and the transformation she wants to see in the world.

A lover of wine, Osur says she entered the wine industry because she loves how wine connects people. “The best conversations I’ve ever had have involved multiple bottles of wine on the table.”

Osur launched Teneral Wine Cellars on October 1, 2020 as a women-owned and women-led wine company on a mission to reshape the wine industry to reflect its largest customer, women. “We are harnessing the power of business for good and using wine as a conduit for change, so when we open a bottle, we open the necessary conversations,” Osur says.

They sustainably farm and produce award-winning wines and donate 10 percent of their profits to organizations that empower women and fight for gender and racial justice. All their vendors and suppliers, except Chase Bank, are women and minority-owned businesses.

Spreading Her Wings for Justice

In early 2020, Osur was one of the owners of another wine company, sheltering in place in her home office. After the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd, she asked herself what she could do to be a part of the solution she wanted to see in the world.

She led the crafting of a Black Lives Matter post on her company’s social media, which made her proud that they were standing up for what was right. However, that led to their largest investor asking for her resignation.

Teneral Cellars Red Wine

“We had a board meeting and determined that while we would keep the post up, we would no longer use our voice moving forward. But I knew I was put on this earth to use my voice. I have been on the front lines of many social and racial justice fights. I was brought up in a Jewish family and taught Tikkun Olam, which is to repair the world, starting with your community and your family,” Osur says.

She began to research the wine industry, which she found was still very male-dominated and steeped in tradition.

“I found that only 10 percent of winemakers in the U.S. are female, and only 0.1 percent are black (men and women). Female sommeliers are, for the most part, still making 70 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts, and there are very few women in leadership positions in the industry and even fewer women of color,” says Osur.

She also cites the World Economic Forum study from their 2019 annual Global Gender Gap Report, which tracks gender-based economic differences in 149 countries. According to this study, while women around the world are more motivated than ever before to fight for equality, it will take 208 years for U.S. women to reach full economic parity.

Dragonfly In Teneral State
Dragonfly In Teneral State

So, Osur made a conscious decision to launch Teneral Cellars, a wine company specifically designed to be in full alignment and integrity with her principles.

I was that vulnerable dragonfly stuck in a leadership position in a company where I had to leave the best part of myself at the door every day to make my male partners happy. But now, I no longer have to leave my heart or my gut behind.”

“Every decision I make, whether it’s challenging or not, I check in with my head, heart, and gut to make sure I am fully aligned with my highest, most authentic self. And we all have that power within us; we just need to claim it, spread our wings, and fly,” she says.

Elevating and Celebrating Women

Teneral Cellars elevates women at all levels of their business, from the actual winemaking to marketing and sales. Through their Swarm Wine Club, they do quarterly releases themed around women’s empowerment and hire different female artists to create the labels and showcase their talent.

“I have an amazing advisory board of incredible women who support the growth and mission of Teneral Cellars and who advise me. We want to lead with intention, purpose, and passion, and surrounding myself with a successful diverse group of women from all backgrounds will only make us better. Having a diversity of thoughts and experiences represented on the advisory board will help us better represent all women,” Osur says.

Woman walking in a grape farm

Their most recent release is “In Her Shoes,” a collection of wines celebrating the unique life paths women have taken and honoring the women from the past who have blazed a trail of change. This collection includes the Lioness Cuvee, a Rise Pinot Gris, and a Joyful Warrior Zinfandel.

“Our gorgeous RISE Pinot Gris label was created by Filipina-American artist Dev Heyrana and features a woman in her power, sunkissed and adorned by dahlias and sampaguita flowers. This bottle celebrates the Filipina and Mexican women who played an important part in weaving the fabric of California’s farmlands. In addition, we honor Dolores Huerta, an American labor leader and Civil Rights Activist who worked alongside Cesar Chavez prior to and during the Delano Grape Strike. The strike and the banding together of farm workers eventually evolved into the formation of the United Farm Workers Union,” Osur explains in Teneral’s blog.

Stonewall Inn, April 2019
Stonewall Inn, April 2019

Love and Pride

Teneral Wine Cellars is also LGBTQ-owned and has a “Love is Love” release that benefits the Stonewall Inn Gives Back initiative, which works to create safe spaces for LGBTQ people around the country. The Stonewall Inn was home to the 1969 uprising that launched the U.S. Gay Rights Movement.

“This wine collection reflects the simple human truth that loving another person is a wonderful thing. Love is to be accepted, appreciated, celebrated, and protected,” she says.

Their wine-tasting notes come from Master Sommelier Emily Wines, and their Love is Love Collection includes an Uprising Chenin Blanc featuring the Stonewall Inn on the label and Marcia P. Johnson’s crown. It also includes an Overflowing with Pride Barbera, with poetry on the label from Playwright Drue Robinson, and a Loud and Proud Merlot.

All three wines won top awards at the San Francisco Chronicle wine competition, the most competitive wine competition in the United States, with over 7,000 entrants. 

Moving Forward with Beauty

Personally, Osur enjoys a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon and a delicate, sensual Pinot Noir and is also a big fan of crisp, bright white wines and blends. Her favorite out of Teneral’s collection is the 1 in 10 White Blend (raising awareness of how 1 in 10 people with uteruses will suffer from endometriosis). This is a unique blend of Picpoul, Grenache Blanc, and Muscat. It’s light and bright with lots of crispy acid notes, making it a beautiful porch or pool pounder for the warmer months.

Teneral Cellars Red Wine

In the near future, Teneral Cellars plans to continue and expand its quarterly themed wine collections, with more artwork from women artists on the label. They are also working on getting a physical location with a tasting room and event space so they can offer fabulous wine experiences and have a place to gather and spread their wings.


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