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Women Winemakers Around the World
Women Winemakers Posted: 04/05/2021

It doesn't have to be Women's History month to highlight women winemakers who have paved the way for other women in the wine industry. Today, we wanted to highlight five women winemakers from five different countries—each who has risen to the top of her field in the traditionally male-dominated wine industry. You can taste the fruits of their labor by bidding on their wines today on WineBid

Women Winemakers Around the World

These pioneering women in wine are paving the way in a field that is currently occupied by men. In California, for example, the percentage of women winemakers was only 10% in 2011, and only slightly higher at 14% by 2020.  These statistics reveal a surprising gap between trained and employed female winemakers given that women make up close to half of U.C. Davis’s viticulture and enology program.  The percentage of female BIPOC winemakers is even lower, yet a crew of rising stars is intent on reversing that trend. Theodora Lee of Theopolis Wines, Robin and Andréa McBride of McBride Sisters, Tara Gomez of Kita Wines, Shalini Sekhar of Ottavino Wines, and Darjean Jones of Darjean Jones Wines come to mind.

Statistics on female wine producers and women-owned wineries at the international level are harder to come by, but bright spots are also clearly emerging. In Spain's Rias Baixas region, 50% of wineries have female winemakers.  In Champagne, where female champagne winemakers hover around 10% of total winemakers, several “grandes marques,” including Perrier-Jouët and Champagne Henriot, have hired female cellar masters for the first time.  In Italy, where only 20 years ago it was rare to meet a female winery owner, more than 25% of wineries are managed by women today.  

Five Notable Women Winemakers

    1. United States - Cathy Corison, Corison Winery, St. Helena, Napa

      Hailed by New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov as “the greatest producer of cabernet sauvignon in Napa Valley today,” Cathy Corison is perhaps the most well-known women winemaker in the United States. A wine appreciation course during Cathy’s sophomore year at Pomona College led her to Napa. She completed her master’s in enology at U.C. Davis in 1978 and cut her teeth at Yverdon and Chappellet Vineyards before producing her first eponymous vintage in 1987. Cathy’s wine-making philosophy is to make powerful, finessed wines—with fresh acidity and moderate alcohol—that reflect their terroir. 

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        2. France - Lalou Bize-Leroy, Domaine Leroy, Burgundy

          If you’ve seen the movie “A Year in Burgundy,” you will be familiar with the charismatic Lalou Bize-Leroy. In 1955, at age 23, Lalou took over her father Henri’s négociant business in Burgundy—which included a 50% stake in Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC)—so that Henri could focus on the family’s brandy distillery. Lalou became co-director of DRC in 1974 along with Aubert de Villaine, pushing the estate to adopt organic viticulture and forging its iconic reputation on the world stage. In the late 1980s, Lalou bought 55 acres, including the estates of Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey-Chambertin, to start Domaine Leroy, where she implemented biodynamic viticulture. She left DRC in 1992 to focus on Domaine Leroy and her other winery, Domaine d'Auvenay. rates her pinot noir second only to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in terms of price and quality.

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            3. Australia - Louisa Rose – Yalumba

              Raised among the vines in the Yarra Yarra Valley, Louisa Rose has risen to prominence as one of the world’s most respected female winemakers. She has spent the past two decades at Yalumba, elevating the status of Australian viognier and earning the title of 2014 Australia's Greatest Winemaker. Louisa also makes wine at Pewsey Vale, where she specializes in riesling. She also somehow finds time to serve as director of the Australian Wine Research Institute. While other Australian winemakers have moved away from blends to focus on single varietals, Louisa has maintained Yalumba’s century-old and unique Australian tradition of blending cabernet with shiraz.   

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                4. Italy - Laura Bianchi, Castello di Monsanto

                  A former lawyer, Laura Bianchi left her legal career to make wine alongside her father at Castello di Monsanto, which was started by her grandfather. Castello di Monsanto owns some of the best vineyard sites in the Chianti Classico appellation in Tuscany and, according to Robert Parker, serves as the benchmark for the heights that Chianti can attain. 

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                    5. Germany - Sarah Löwenstein, Weingut Heymann-Löwenstein

                      Sarah is the winemaker at the winery that her parents started in the Lower Moselle – often referred to as Terrassenmosel, or the terraced Moselle. The vineyards are so steep that all vineyard work is done by hand. While Sarah left town to pursue a graduate degree and a non-wine career, she found herself constantly reading about wine and decided to return: “Wine didn’t let me go. I realized how much it belongs to my life.” Sarah relies on natural fermentation in the cellar, where organ pipes bring in sounds from the courtyard to coax along the process. She strives to balance the acidity, sugar, and alcohol in each riesling to leave space some space for the individual taste of each vineyard to express itself. 

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                      2018 Fortunate Son Wines The Diplomat

                      18 available