It’s sports and wine for reporter Jill Painter Lopez

(News4usonline) – Like a lot of people, KCBS/KCAL sports reporter Jill Painter Lopez discovered that she needed to re-invent herself during the Covid-19 pandemic. Outside of covering Southern California sports as a writer and broadcaster, Painter Lopez also moonlights as a consultant for Scout & Cellar, a company that specializes in making clean wine.

“I think that we’ve all learned through the pandemic and or other reasons that it’s good to not to put all your eggs in one basket and to like, you know, kind of diversify yourself and do other things,” Painter Lopez shared in a sit-down interview with reporter Dennis J. Freeman. 

“For me, my main gig is working for CBS and KCAL as their reporter, but then I also do freelance sports writing and then I do some play-by-play [announcing] and the wine business. So, it’s kind of fun to have different things going on,” she added.   

Covid-19 changed a lot of things. For a lot of people. The old way of doing things for Americans as well as the rest of the world simply went out the window. The toll of Covid-19 has been immeasurable. Millions of people lost their lives.  

Isolation and working remotely became the norm. Businesses shut down. People lost their jobs. Reunions and family get-togethers were sidelined for an extended period of time. In-person meetings flipped into virtual discussions. Handshakes were replaced by mask-wearing nods. 

Going through the global pandemic meant surviving and adapting for Painter Lopez. After a long stint working as a print reporter, Painter Lopez is now enjoying the fruits of a broadcasting degree she earned from the University of Colorado

She is currently the play-by-play announcer for the Cal State Northridge women’s basketball team and can be seen on camera reporting on sports for CBS/KCAL. Now a longtime fixture on the Southern California sports scene. Painter Lopez is one of the best reporters and writers around.   

Painter Lopez was tapped by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) as a Top 10 national sports columnist. She was also selected as Reporter of the Year by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters in 2020 for her work reporting for Bally Sports West. It was during the pandemic that Painter Lopez began picking up play-by-play, an opportunity that has expanded her sports resume.  

“During the pandemic, I started to do play-by-play [announcing]. I had never thought about it before in my life, but I had a couple of opportunities with the Big West to do it for men’s and women’s basketball, and now that’s become a fun thing that I do,” she said.

Outside of picking up another sports employment gig, Painter Lopez didn’t waste time being idle during the pandemic. She began exploring other opportunities outside of sports. That’s when the wine world came to her. 

“This would have been in the pandemic,” Painter Lopez said. “It would have been in those months where we literally all were for three or four months everybody was at home. Like you only went out to get groceries. It was during that time.”  

One day, a professional colleague turned Painter Lopez on to drinking clean wine. Before long, Painter Lopez found herself advocating for clean wine. 

“My friend named Alanna Rizzo had gotten into wine through a couple of other gals that are also baseball reporters, and they all started doing this,” Painter Lopez said. “It’s like baseball and wine just seem to go together. And you see so many athletes and managers…[Dodgers manager] Dave Roberts has his own wine label, Red Stitch, that he co-owns with Rich Aurilia.  

“So it seems like baseball and wine kind of go together. I ordered the wine from Alanna and really loved the wine. So then I asked her about it and started working with her, and now there’s a team. It’s funny, there’s a lot of…for whatever reason, a lot of baseball reporters, and we’re all kind of friends and we all market the wine.”  

Painter Lopez works with some of the more super-talented baseball reporters in the business when it comes to doing this wine thing. Rizzo is a reporter for the MLB Network. Emily Jones covers the Texas Rangers. Bally Sports Arizona anchor and reporter Jody Jackson handles coverage of the Arizona Diamondbacks, while Amy Gutierrez works for the San Francisco Giants. That’s a pretty impressive list of friends to have. 

“We all got into the business,” said Painter Lopez. “I’ve learned a lot about wine. I still have tons to learn about wine. It’s been kind of fun.” 

Getting into the wine business in general is more than fun. It has proven to be a very lucrative venture. According to a 2022 study, wine and all that comes with it is worth billions of dollars. To be exact, the What’s Wine Worth? 2022 National Economic Impact Study revealed that the total economic impact of the wine industry last year was projected to be a little more than $276 billion dollars. 

This includes generating 1.84 million jobs, doling out $90 billion dollars in wages, and seeing tourists drop $16.6 billion dollars in spending. All that money has trickled down to startups like Scout & Cellar. Headquartered in Texas, Scout & Cellar’s estimated value is at $97 million dollars. 

Founded by Sarah Shadonix, Scout & Cellar went bold and big in its first year of operations. According to an article done on the company by the Dallas Business Journal, Scout & Cellar made $20 million dollars right out of the box.   

When she is not working her day job, Painter Lopez enjoys the benefits of working as a wine consultant. 

CBS/KCAL sports reporter Jill Painter Lopez is also a wine consultant for Scout & Cellar. Courtesy photo

Besides the obvious of getting to market organic wine, Painter Lopez is afforded the luxury of having a flexible schedule where she can meet with her team, take part in wine tasting events, and catch up on the latest about what’s happening in the industry.          

“I’ve been doing this now for two and a half years,” she said. “Basically, it’s sort of like Mary Kay Cosmetics, where it’s like a bunch of independent consultants. We all work for the same company. 

“The cool thing about it is it’s clean wine,” Painter Lopez added. “No pesticides are used on the crops, the grapes. It’s all organic. The wines are less than a gram of sugar per bottle, like one carb per bottle. It’s clean wine. It’s like a lot of people that try to eat clean. I had never thought about it before…many people don’t know about clean wine or drinking clean wine.” 

Painter Lopez said trying to balance her part-time gig as a  wine connoisseur, doing play-by-play duties, and working full-time as a sports reporter can get “a little crazy” at times. But for the most part, though, it’s manageable, she said.    

“Most of the time, it’s pretty fun,” quipped Painter Lopez. “The great thing about the wine business is you work from home whenever you want. I usually like to check my website in the morning. I may reach out to a couple of customers or people if I need to. Some days I don’t do anything…You just try to work around your schedule.”   

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