Where Are All the Women Winemakers?


Dec 14, 2015

Where Are All the Women Winemakers?

It’s no secret that Americans love their wine. The United States is currently the largest wine market in the world — and nearly 90 percent of the country's wine is produced in California.

And while women have been producing quality wines for decades, just 10 percent of California vintners are women, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to Professor David Block at the University of California, Davis, nearly half (30 of 61) of the 2015 spring graduates of the university’s prestigious Viticulture & Enology program are women. Compare this to 1999, when only 12 of the 33 students were women.

The numbers are promising, yet there remains a disconnect between the number of women who graduate wine school and those who place top jobs in California’s bustling wine industry.

A study by Lucia Gilbert, professor of psychology at Santa Clara University, reveals that of the 480 California wineries accounted for in "Wine Spectator's California Wine" (1999), the percentage of female lead winemakers rose less than 5 percent in the past 15 years — from 10 percent in 1999 to 14.8 percent in 2014.

To help these women gain momentum in the wine industry, you can familiarize yourself with some of the labels above and purchase a bottle or two the next time you shop for wine. 

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Drinkward Peschon Entre Deux Mères | Françoise Peschon and partner Lisa Drinkward are the two women behind this Napa Valley cabernet. They describe their wine production process as small, hands-on, and honest. "Entre Deux Mères," translates to "between two mothers." $70
Pride Merlot | Sally Johnson is the woman behind this velvety merlot. She joined the Pride Mountain Vineyard team in 2007. $60
Selene Hyde Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc | Mia Klein chose to focus her winemaking efforts on her personal favorite varietals: sauvignon blanc and merlot. The Selene name comes from Greek mythology, and is the name of the goddess of the moon. $28
Zeitgeist Russian River Valley Trousseau Gris | Jennifer Williams Porembski and her husband, Mark, are the winemakers behind this northern California vintage. Zeitgeist is a philosophical term meaning the spirit of the times. $26
Ripe Life Wines Chardonnay | With wines called 'The Clambake' and 'The Tailgate,' it's hard to pass these bottles up. Sommelier and wine producer Mary McAuley is the woman behind these dynamic wines. The Jersey Shore native is known as a seasoned “clambaker,” and the resident wine guru among her family and friends. $16

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