- Wine Producer
Celebrate Women Winemakers During Women’s History Month
Women have always played a significant role in shaping society as we know it. Working together and side-by-side with their male counterparts, women have helped pave the way for a better future for people of all identities and demographics — though, as history would have it, more often than not, their tireless efforts go unrecognized.
However, that is changing. Across all industries, women are breaking barriers, pushing the boundaries, and showing people worldwide all they can achieve. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of wine.
The wine industry has been slow to change, but that hasn’t stopped women from entering the fold anyway. Though the percentage of women in executive roles remains relatively low, there’s no denying that the number of women working in wine has steadily increased. A 2020 study by Santa Clara University found that the number of lead women winemakers in California increased from 10 percent in 2011 to 14 percent in 2020. Total figures for women in wine internationally are harder to come by. Still, there are some indications that progression is occurring globally. For instance, 50 percent of winemakers in Spain are women, while in Italy, women run more than 25 percent of wineries.
Now it’s become common to find bottles made by women or wines owned by women on retail shelves, and there are plenty of women-made wines to choose from online. With Women’s History Month in full swing, there’s no better time than now to enjoy a bottle of something delicious made or owned by a history-making woman.
See CorkRules’ list of top women-made and women-owned wines to try below.
Ntsiki Biyela set out to become a winemaker at a crucial time in South Africa’s history — just two years post-apartheid, when Black people were only beginning to be allowed to work in certain industries — like winemaking — long upheld by White South Africans. Not without facing much adversity, Biyela graduated with a winemaking degree from Stellenbosch University in 2003. She established Aslina Wines in 2016 and has since become one of South Africa’s premier winemakers, receiving numerous awards for wines, including Biyela’s bright and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. Full of lemon zest and citrus character, the wine is complex and balanced with tropical fruit nuances and vibrant acidity noticeable through the long, mouthwatering finish.
Bodegas Montecillo Gran Reserva 2016
The third winery to establish itself in Spain’s Rioja region, Bodegas Montecillo has produced sought-after wines for more than 150 years. Mercedes García Rupérez has only worked with the Bodega for the last 15 years but has successfully revamped Montecillo’s look and production as the chief winemaker. Perhaps the most remarkable example of her work is in a bottle of Bodegas Montecillo’s Gran Reserva that displays signature aromas and tastes, all while feeling updated and polished. Made with 92 percent Tempranillo and 8 percent Graciano, the ruby red wine features candied fruits, cinnamon, and nutmeg fragrances. The palate is clean with refined tannins and tingling acidity that extends well into the long finish.
Camins to Dream Spear Vineyards Syrah 2021
Camins to Dream is the lovechild winery of winemakers and wives Catalunya-born Mireia Taribó and California native Tara Gomez. The pair launched the California winery in 2017, working with fruit from Santa Barbara’s Sta. Rita Hills region. They produce wines with elegance, freshness, and depth. The couple’s Spear Vineyard’s Syrah stands out in their collection, displaying ample spicy and peppery aromas with a palate drenched with black fruit, earthy nuances, silky tannins, and a long-lasting finish.
Château Lafite Rothschild Premier Grand Cru Classé Pauillac 2018
Sixth-generation family member Saskia de Rothschild is the first woman (and youngest person) to chair and lead Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite as CEO. The winery was the first château acquired by the Rothschild family in 1868. Saskia de Rothschild succeeded her father, Baron Eric de Rothschild, in 2018 and has only amplified the Domaines’ penchant for precision in winemaking in Bordeaux and beyond. Château Lafite Rothschild Premier Grand Cru Classé is just one example of excellence in the bottle. Produced with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot, the dark reddish-purple wine displays plenty of depth in the aroma and palate. Black and red fruit shine while undertones of cedar shine through mid-palate. Ever complex, the wine is well-integrated with fine tannins, fruit and spice, acid and oak, resulting in an elegant, long-lasting, fresh finish.
Dalla Valle Vineyards “Collina Dalla Valle” Red Blend 2019
Japan native Naoko Dalla Valle and her late husband Gustav Dalla Valle established their winery in the heart of Napa Valley in 1986. The iconic winery has remained family-owned and operated. Following Gustav’s death in the mid-1990s, Naoko Dalla Valle oversaw production and helped bring Dalla Valle the critical acclaim it’s known for today. In 2017, Naoko Dalla Valle’s daughter Maya Dalla Valla joined the winemaking team and was appointed the estate’s head winemaker in 2021. The intro wine to the Dalla Valle portfolio is a harmonious blend of 50 percent Cabernet Franc, 40 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10 percent Petit Verdot. The wine is fragrant with spice, chocolate, and strawberry compote notes, while the palate is balanced with rich, dark fruit and savory nuances. The finish lingers with silky tannins.
Donnafugata “Sul Vulcano” Etna Rosso Doc 2019
The Rallo family has practiced winemaking in the heart of Italy’s southern island Sicily for five generations. In the early 1990s, José Rallo, the daughter of Donnafugata’s founder, joined the family winemaker and has since become the company’s CEO. The winery’s medium-bodied and fresh “Sul Vulcano” is made predominantly with Italy’s indigenous grape Nerello Mascalese, though a small amount of Nerello Cappuccio is added to the final blend. Silky, with elegant aromas of raspberries and cherries, the palate is soaked with fruity freshness and a hint of spicy mint, while soft tannins provide structure.
Filipa Pato & Williams Wouters D.N.M.C. Bical & Arinto 2021
Winemaker Filipa Pato is at the forefront of wine production for this Portuguese winery, which was launched in 2001. However, she co-owns the project with her husband, sommelier and restaurateur William Wouters. Pato makes wines from grapes grown across the Bairrada appellation of Portugal. This particular bottle is made with a blend of Portuguese native grapes Bical and Arinto. The straw-yellow wine displays fleshy pear and apple aromas with a hint of crushed herbs, while the palate is creamy and smooth with fruit-driven flavors and a depth of minerality. The finish lingers with fresh acidity.
Merry Edwards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2020
Merry Edwards Wines, a trailblazer in the U.S. wine industry, embodies the essence of progress regarding women in wine. Not only is the company founded by a woman, but women run the whole show, from winemaking to business. Winemaker Merry Edwards started dipping into winemaking in the 1970s with her Merry Vitners label. She went on to work at various prestigious wine estates throughout California before launching her namesake winery in 1997. Though Edwards retired in 2020, she appointed Sonoma native Heidi Von Der Mehden as her successor, while Nicole Carter serves as the winery’s president. This highly acclaimed Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley is smooth and ripe with red berry flavors that become juicer and silkier on the palate.
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