A celebration of the women who inspire and shape the wine world

by Mar 8, 2021News0 comments

Donatella Cinelli Colombini (on the right) and staff tasting yet another wonderful vintage in MontalcinoDonatella Cinelli Colombini (on the right) and staff tasting yet another wonderful vintage in Montalcino

Dear reader,

Every March 8th, the world steps up to celebrate the role of women thanks to the International Women’s Day. Whilst women are undoubtedly a driving force for the whole world, they still have their importance historically underestimated or subdued – and still face huge obstacles towards equality and safe environments.

It happens in wine too.

While we are delighted to celebrate the importance of women who inspire, who shape and who move forward winemaking, tasting, marketing and all things wine, the stark reality is: women are still very much underrepresented and undervalued in the wine world, being frequently discouraged from taking upon the most challenging tasks which we do know they are up to.

Women in wine still face enormous challenges to this day.

Even though women have all the skills needed to succeed, sometimes female workers in wine face barriers that can feel unsurmountable due to social injustices.

By now we know how women naturally tend to better tasters than men, yet only a third of them are part of the exclusive world of Masters of Wine. Same disproportionality goes for Master Sommeliers in the US, where less than a fifth are women.

Pay gaps are still common. Underrepresentation too: in terms of leading roles and in winemaking tasks, women still lag behind – mostly having their skills downplayed in favour of “bro culture” and amidst a still to this day disgraceful reality that includes mansplaining, sexual harassment and open demeaning.

Women in wine, as in so many other sectors, work twice as hard to try to compete at equal odds. And are still far too overlooked in the industry’s awards.

If women can’t be acknowledged economically or seen as equal to the industry, we will still have a long way to go to find a balance.

Let’s start by reminding a few women who we should all look as important models:

Inspiring women who left (or leave) their mark in the wine world

Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, the iconic Veuve Clicquot

Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, the iconic Veuve Clicquot

While we can easily think of great pioneers in the modern development of wine, we think men. But several women who have been underestimated throughout time deserve to have their spot much more appreciated due to their virtues and the achievements they have brought.

Let’s celebrate them, more than ever, and be inspired to have more and more women running the show in viticulture, production, tasting, teaching.

Women like Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, the iconic Veuve (Widow) Clicquot – first woman to run a Champagne house –, or a wildly praised heiress of the widow’s tradition, Louise Pommery.

Lalou Bize-Leroy

Lalou Bize-Leroy

Women like Hannah Weinberger, first female winemaker to explore the frontiers of Napa Valley, many decades before its boom. Or pioneer Isabelle Simi, who made her way in Sonoma after so many tragic losses and left her legacy to this day.

Women like Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy, the legendary Grand Dame of Burgundy who, among many other traits, showed the world how natural farming could lead winemaking forward as a whole.

Women like Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, aka Ferreirinha, the dame of Portuguese wines that changed the trajectory of Port, Douro, and the country’s winemaking back in the mid-1800s and whose name we proudly celebrate having listed the spectacular Quinta do Vallado’s Adelaide red from Douro.

Women like Donatella Cinelli Colombini, the wonderful producer whose all-women winery is arguably one of the finest tenute in Tuscany and which proudly gave our first Italian initial bottle offering (IBO): IoSonoDonatella, a top-level Brunello di Montalcino. Or the groundbreaking Albiera Antinori, first woman to lead the legendary Antinori estate and step up the likes of our beloved Solaia.

Women like vintners and producers Susana Balbo, Saskia de Rothschild, Andrea Mullineux, Sandrine Garbay, Sandra Tavares da Silva, Hélène Génin, Ntsiki Biyela and so many more that might not have been part of this list, but who are nevertheless deservedly renowned.

Women like wonderful sommelières like Sarah Morphew Stephen, who fought the enormous prejudice to show she had the skills after roaming through Europe and become the world’s first female Master of Wine (MW). Or women like the one and only Jancis Robinson, the superstar MW whose writings and ratings are essential to the industry.

Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson

***

But let us not only celebrate the influential and powerful women in wine.

Let’s ask ourselves: isn’t it time we had many more women leading the way?

Until next time,

Breno (with an enormous shoutout and thanks to the wonderful women who put this list together!)

 

Explore More from Our Blog

They have created the perfect storm for controlled demolition of money

I’m glad to be back talking financial insights, one glass of wine at a time. First they shut down the economy, to save lives. With the closure of the economy, production ceased. To compensate for non-production or reduced production, people were paid not to lose...

Spanish Cava Sparkling Wine: What You Need to Know!

Spanish Cava Sparkling Wine: What You Need to Know!

What is a Port Wine?

DEAR READER, Let’s start February off with a simple question: Good morning, Mr. Ferdinand, What is a Port wine? -Jacques Thank you, Jacques, for your brevity. Let’s get down to business! Ports are an underrated, very particular type of wine made in the Douro Valley,...

What to Expect for Fine Wine Investments in 2022

Let’s face it, between an ongoing COVID pandemic, erratic markets, fires, floods and major humanitarian crises, 2021 was exhausting. And though none of us can be sure what to make of 2022, we can say with confidence that fine and rare wine investments are looking...

Holiday Gift Guide for Fine Wine

It’s that time of year again! And so begins the search for the perfect holiday gift. Something unique, something that shows you truly care. How about a gift that keeps on giving? An investment. Imagine their surprise when you tell them that their gift is resting...

FAMILY-RUN WINERIES

DEAR READER, As I grow immensely in popularity, I’ve noticed more of you interested in my personal life. I didn’t begin e-blogging with this in mind, but I don’t mind indulging every now and then. I imagine my intellect intimidates a lot of you, so maybe shedding some...

The Truth about Fine Wine

Fine wine. What does that really mean? The truth is, as words, they don’t mean much. There is no official classification system for the title “fine wine.” It’s not like the regulated usage of “Premier Cru” or “Grand Cru Classé,” for example, rather anyone can throw it...

Maipo Valley Reds

DEAR READER, I am again-and-again charmed by my readers’ curiosity! It reminds me of being a young sommelier, ready to take on the world one glass at a time. I know far too much to feel that way again—but at least I can experience a shred of it through you all! Dear...

Liquid Harmony

Harmony. Think Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Think Picasso's The Old Guitarist. It’s that moment when various elements come together to create magic. And magic really is the word, no? Wine can also sip in harmony, and I can think of no better example than the...

Where Does the Phrase “Aging Like Fine Wine” Originate?

DEAR READER, I received this charming question from an inquisitive reader last week. Dear Sommelier Ferdinand, Where does the phrase “aging like fine wine” originate? It’s so fun! -Imani I just love your question! What a lively spirit you have, Imani! I’m more of a...

NOSTALGIA AND THE ADELAIDE DOURO RED

DEAR READER, Let’s get down to it! Dear Sommelier Ferdinand, I respect your point of view, but I must ask: don’t you think worshipping wines is partaking too mightily in the past? Wouldn’t you rather create your own memories than indulge in nostalgia? -Ethan Ethan,...

The Top 10 Wines to Invest In Today

Imagine that back in the day you invested in a case of 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon wine. When released, mailing list members had the chance to snag a bottle of this "cult wine" for a mere US$75.00. Fast forward to now, and one bottle alone goes for...