Vivent les Femmes!


A few years ago, I was invited to do an interview on the wine segment of the Bloomberg Network. My host, Al Bassano, graciously offered me my choice of topics, and I suggested we discuss the role of women in the wine business. I revisited that interview before writing this column, and found that my attitudes and opinions had not shifted much. We are in the minority, but we have had serious impact in several areas, as writers, educators, and (somewhat surprisingly) winemakers.

Three of the most influential wine writers of the last quarter-century have been women, all of them British. The first of them, Pamela VanDyke Price, made her mark as a journalist in the 1970s, first as editor of Wine and Food magazine, then as wine correspondent for the London Times and author of several books. Next on the scene (and still very much a force) was Serena Sutcliffe; one of the first women to earn the designation of Master of Wine, Serena was for many years a regular contributor to Decanter magazine, and is now in charge of the wine area of Sotheby's. Last but by no means least is Jancis Robinson, also a Master of Wine; she has been the wine writer for the Financial Times, has starred in her own TV series, and is the author or editor of a dozen books, including The Oxford Companion to Wine.

Here on this side of the Atlantic, we have Harriet Lembeck, long-time wine educator and reviser of the reference, Grossman's Guide to Wines, Beers, and Spirits. We also salute Mary Ewing Mulligan, the only American woman M.W., who is co-owner and director of New York's International Wine Center and co-author of the Wine for Dummies books.

Women are coming on the scene as sommeliers (sommelieres?); one of last season's new wine books was from Andrea Immer, former Wine Director of (sadly enough) Windows on the World and now consultant to a hotel chain. And three years ago Sally Moore, of Boulder Colorado, became the first woman to achieve certification as a Master Sommelier.

And today women are making wine and running wineries all over the world. Some were "to the manor born" (think of Marimar Torres, think of "G3," Gina Gallo), some had the situation rudely thrust upon them (like Jane Hunter of Hunter's Wines in New Zealand, whose husband Ernie was killed in a car crash at the age of 38). But many others have aggressively chosen wine as their career. Zelma Long was a pioneer in Napa 25 years ago, first as a winemaker for Mondavi and subsequently as head winemaker for Simi; so was Cathy Corison, winemaker for Chappellet Vineyards for 10 years before launching her own brand in 1987. Their successors today include the makers of some of California's most sought-after "cult wines": Helen Turley, Silvia Macheski, and Heidi Peterson Barrett. The list goes on and on.

Do men still dominate the wine world? Of course! But they had better look over their collective shoulders! Just try the wines we have assembled for September, and I dare you not to be impressed.

Meet the (Women) Winemakers

Sophia Bergqvist gave up a highly successful career as a business consultant in London to return to the Douro to revive and run the family estate. Her original aim was simply economic stability - keeping the estate in the family - but the impressive string of awards garnered through the 1990s for both the estate's Port and table wine are proof that she has done much more than that. Sister Juliet, a recent U.C. Davis graduate, has now taken on a long-distance consulting-planning role from her base in California, and Sophia has just hired the (woman) winemaker away from nearby Quinta do Murça.

Elisabetta Foradori is the queen of the Campo Rotaliano. Born into a family with deep roots in the region, she studied at the Institute of San Michele all' Adige, one of the best winemaking schools in Italy. When her father died prematurely, Elisabetta assumed the running of the family estate at an early age. To summarize her reputation, we turn to Gambero Rosso: "Elisabetta Foradori is unique in the Trentino wine scene. Unique for her temperament, for her managerial abilities, for her intuition in the vineyards and her expertise in the cellars. Her wines - or rather her wine, singular, because she devotes most of her attention to her Teroldego - is lavishly praised and imitated by hordes of winemakers."

Leading Lambert Bridge is wine industry veteran
Julia Iantosca. A California native, Julia originally planned to become a veterinarian, but when her advisor at San Jose State nudged her toward oenology Julia transferred to U.C. Davis, earning her degree in Fermentation Science n 1979. Following graduation, Julia worked for three years in the Sierra Foothills as winemaker for Stevenot, then for eleven years at William Wheeler Winery in Dry Creek, where she developed a reputation for consistently producing elegant, full-flavored wines. She was the Chambers family's first choice for winemaker, and Julia feels it is the perfect spot for her . . . a small enough operation that she can have hands-on contact with all phases of the winemaking process.

Enthusiastic, energetic, and innovative . . . that's how Deakin Estate describes their winemaking team and its leader, Linda Jakubans. Linda's first career interest was in food technology and biotechnology, but she quickly found her true calling in the wine industry. Her first job was as assistant winemaker at Mildara Vineyards and, while there, she studied wine science at Charles Sturt University. Linda joined Deakin Estate in 1992.

South America boasts an impressive number of stellar women winemakers, but perhaps none more lustrous than Estella Ines Perinetti. Estella has been studying agricultural engineering and oenology at the National University of Cuyo for more than fourteen years. She gained important experience in vineyard management working as a consultant for Las Barrancas Viticultural Experimentation Group and, as a winemaker, at Swanson in Napa and at Sonoma Creek Winery in Carneros. She has just been named to head up the winemaking team for the new joint venture between Catena and Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite).

From the start, winemaking at Warwick

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