Utah and hiking go together, throw booze into the equation and you feel like you’re in California. Women’s Wine Hiking Society is where sisterhood, hiking, and booze meet.
Women’s Wine Hiking Society was created in 2016 when Cindy Vance and Angelique Fish met when Fish’s ex-husband friend’s introduced the two. They went on their first backpacking trip in 2016. They enjoyed that trip so much that they started a Facebook group inviting more women to join them.
“We would have just kind of impromptu hikes that we would post on Facebook and we just weren’t really getting a lot of people coming on the hikes back then,” Fish said.
The society began expanding during the pandemic and eventually got 2,400 members by the end of 2020.
An organization involving liquor in Utah isn’t a commonality due to the teetotaler nature of the predominant religion. Utah’s population is predominantly LDS, 68% according to the U.S. Census and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Despite that, the founders of the society said they don’t receive much backlash for alcohol being involved with their group because many members actually don’t drink, including Fish herself.
“I don’t know that we really received criticism. We would get questions a lot, is that safe? Are you drinking while you’re hiking? I think those were the kind of questions we got, but we didn’t really get any criticism,” Vance said.
The alcohol component is to be inclusive to not just Utah natives, the women reflected. “I don’t drink. There are a lot of women in our group who don’t drink. But the alcohol part is just to make our group less intimidating,” Fish said.
Typically people who are not born and raised in Utah join Women’s Wine Hiking Society. It gives newcomers an opportunity to feel welcome in Utah amongst a culture they may not be familiar with. According to Fish they are all surprised when at the beginning of a hike one of the participants reveals to be from Utah. “ It’s like a unicorn,” Fish exclaims.
The group charges $5 for day hikes, and 20% of that goes to a charity of the group’s choosing at the end of the year. Women’s Wine Hiking society does not limit their activities to hiking. They organize a variety of events which you can find on their website.
And so far the concept behind Women’s Wine Hiking Society has been very popular among Utah women and gender neutral causing it to expand to all 50 states.
Cheers to Vance and Fish!