Emily Kaufmann

Fabulous People: Emily Kaufmann

Emily Kaufmann is the co-founder and executive director of the California Wine Festival, which celebrates the fine wines and foods of California while giving back to charitable endeavors in each coastal location. The annual event just announced its 2022 schedule, starting in Dana Point in late April. Learn about Emily Kaufmann…

Hometown: Small town of Auburn, Mass., about 40 miles outside of Boston.

First job: Being a server at an ice cream shop. I can still make a killer milkshake.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: I enjoy spending time with my husband, Kent, and our three sons, Brennan, Logan and Travis. I love watching my boys compete in the sports they love. Running along the coast in Santa Barbara keeps me balanced. Actually, I am running my first half marathon in over 10 years this May in Santa Barbara Wine Country. Wish me luck!

Your biggest accomplishment and why: My biggest personal accomplishment is my children. Professionally, I am very proud of the growth the California Wine Festival has seen over the past 20 years. The small idea way back then has turned into a nationally recognized event, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: The biggest obstacle was the constant changes and cancellations over the past two years. California Wine Festival did not have an event for nearly two years. Staying positive while adjusting to constant challenges the pandemic created was very difficult. Once we decided to open our first festival in August 2021, I had to have plan A, B, C and D in place to ensure the event was safe for all of our attendees while working within constantly changing regulations.

Someone who inspires you and why: Without a doubt, my mom. She has taught me the value of hard work, problem solving and a “never give up” attitude. My father passed away when I was 12, and my mom raised my brother, my sister and I alone. She worked very hard to provide for us, yet she never missed a single school function or sporting event. I honestly don’t know how she did it.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Be very organized and prepared for all  scenarios, but expect the unexpected. No matter how much you plan for an event, something will surprise you. You just need to take the next step and try to solve the problem and move on.

Favorite quote: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
–Winston Churchill

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I was on the game show, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” with Regis Philbin and won $64,000 in 2001.

What makes someone fabulous: Someone that doesn’t take themselves too seriously. In the events business, you can’t have an ego. Everyone needs to pitch in and get things done, and you can’t be above any task. Thankfully, I have an amazing team who shares the same vision for the success of the California Wine Festival.

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