Women have been winemakers since the beginning of time, even if they didn’t always get the credit they deserve. This class is a celebration of our favorite women winemakers across the globe, from France to California and onwards to Italy. Learn about the important women winemakers in history, and sample the great wines of up-and-coming winemakers.
The wine trade has come a long way in the last twenty years. When the director of the Wine School of Philadelphia attended the winemaking program at the University of California at Davis there were only 15 students who were women. That was back in 1998. Now, over half of the graduating class is female. National Wine School figures from 2016 show that over half of all sommeliers certifications are now earned by women.
We can’t solve the world’s problems, but we can raise a glass to the ever-growing world of wine!
A few recent magazine articles about women winemakers.
The Number of Women Winemakers Is Growing, and Fast
by MATT KETTMANN In Santa Barbara County, there’s a long history of women atop the winemaking world. Buttonwood Farm, for instance, was founded in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley in the 1960s by the late Betty Williams, who started planting wine grapes in 1983, the region’s very early days. Then there’s Kathy Joseph, who started Fiddlehead Cellars back in 1989 in what would become the Sta. Rita Hills, and Denise Shurtleff, who started working harvests in 1983 and came to Cambria Winery in 1999, where she became head winemaker in 2003 and now makes more wine than anyone else in Santa Barbara County, male or female.
by KAT THOMSEN
Women aren’t just battling for equality and recognition in the world of cubicles and corner offices—just about every profession, from truck-drivers to sous-chefs, could use more women. And while a vineyard can seem very far from the boardroom, female winemakers face many of the same obstacles and ostracism that their desk-dwelling counterparts do. In honor of National Wine Day (which happens every year on May 25, but which we celebrate the other 364 days, too), here are a few lady vintners you should have on your radar.
“Finding a balance between work and family can be hard for women in any industry (and men too!) and especially so in the wine world, where harvest means putting my entire life on hold for about 10-plus weeks each year,” says Sally Johnson [Winemaker, Pride Mountain]. “Professionally, though, I’ve never had anyone suggest that I might not be successful at my job because I am a woman. The generation of women winemakers who came before me really blazed the trail to prove that women can do the physical aspects of this job and that we’re willing and able to get our hands dirty. It’s a great time to be a woman in wine.”
These Women Winemakers Are Changing the Way We Drink
by CHARU SURI
When Kathleen Inman, owner of Inman Family Wines in California’s terroir-rich Russian River Valley, wanted to commemorate her 20th wedding anniversary, she marked the occasion with a special 2016 rosé called “Endless Crush.” It was a departure from the typical saignée (or rosé-making) process: strongly structured, delicate, and sourced from organic fruit. It also came in a cheeky screw-cap salmon pink bottle, and it was full of flavor—strawberry, blood orange, watermelon rind, with hints of minerality. In winemaking terms, it was a decidedly New World approach. For Inman, it was all in a day’s work.
A Napa native who earned cred by cultivating a 10.5-acre parcel of land in 1999, Inman is just one of many female vintners and winemakers who are shifting the landscape of how vineyards are nurtured, and how the wine we drink is crafted. As oenophiles veer away from heavily structured oaky vintages in favor of more delicate, subtle notes (stone fruit, cinnamon, clove, toffee, leather, and chocolate, to name a few), women’s winemaking voices are also growing more resonant and relevant.
In Photo: Elodie Gilles of Vignobles Raymond (Bordeaux)