A Toast to Women Wine Makers during Women’s History Month

iwd_squareAs March is Women’s History Month, and Saturday March 8 is International Women’s Day, what better time to focus on women winemakers than now?

That’s the idea of the tweet-up on the first Wednesday evening of March–to taste and tweet about wines made by women March 5, 2014. We’re going to get started at 5pm Pacific Standard Time.

All you need to to do participate is locate a bottle of wine made by a woman and share it online with the hashtag #womenwinemakers.

And yes, this may take a bit of research on your part because even though 10% of all winemakers in California are women

It’s not like there’s a pink bow on the bottles at the grocery store to let you know which wines are made by women and which are made by men.

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But women are making wine–and great wine at that.

For example, check out what Elaine Brown aka Hawk Wakawaka writes (and draws!) in “Keeping it Simple: Love for Cathy Corison Cabernet” link to post from last March. Jon Bonne raves in the SF Chronicle (12/1/12) that “One sniff of wine from Cathy Corison, our 2011 Winemaker of the Year, and you’re instantly reminded what Cabernet truly is.” Here’s a link to his article.

It’s not like women just started making wine either. Cathy’s been at it since the mid 1970s.

While I have yet to taste Cathy Corison’s wines, I have tasted the magic that Dawnine Dyer makes over at Napa’s Meteor Vineyards when I attended a release party in 2011.  We even hung out together comparing notes about our alma mater, UC Santa Cruz!

Like Cathy, Dawnine started making wine in the 1970s; Dawnine was at Mondavi in 1974, then made sparkling wine for 25 years at Domaine Chandon. These days, she’s making Bordeaux style wines with her husband (who I also met and, like Dawnine, is one of the sweetest people you’d ever hope to meet) for their label, Dyer, and making wine at Meteor in a joint venture with Barry Schuler. Those wines, I must say, were some of the most memorable and exquisite California reds I’ve tasted. (Read Marcy Gordon’s discussion of the Meteor Vineyards release party here)6351324359_410dd89af8

Obviously there is a long tradition of women making wine–as well as helping blend wines that others have made. More than once I’ve heard stories about how a blend came to be–and often it is the wife who has the magic touch.

In fact there’s a whole website devoted to California women wine makers like Cathy and Dawnine because women are making wine for small production and high end wineries as well as large ones with wines you’d find at the grocery store: at the International Food Bloggers Conference, I was on a fun wine and food pairing panel with Don and Son’s winemaker Michelle McClenden (pictured with Mike Wangbickler; photo from Foodista http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodista/6351324359/in/photostream/).

MDWshortyrose4bAnd –It’s not just progressive California that has women wine makers either.

When I was on the way to Penticton last year for the Wine Bloggers Conference, I started in Seattle and stopped in Lake Chelan where I met and tasted the wines of former roller derby gal and now wine maker Angela Jacobs of Wine Girl Wines at the Blending Room in Mason WA.

Which reminds me: I have a bottle of My Derby Wife Malbec which I could open on Wednesday!

After the Wine Bloggers Conference, I was able to spend some time with winemaker, president and CEO Sandra Oldfield at Tinhorn Creek in Oliver which is south of Penticton.

TinhornCreekmerlotvinesIn contrast to the tiny and youthful Wine Girl Wines, Tinhorn Creek is celebrating its 20th anniversary as one of the first and largest estate grown wineries in Canada (the website says 150 acres of vines!). I have a bottle of her spicy, racy, acidic, aromatic, and  minerally Gewurztraminer and her luscious, succulent Merlot which I could open for the occasion.

And if not on Wednesday, sometime during March I’ll open one or both Tinhorn Creek wines because I have notes and photos from exploring the vineyards with chairman Kenn Oldfield plus notes from an in-depth interview to share about Sandra’s life as a leading winemaker who has consciously worked to keep the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit in mind in every element of their business practice.

Need some more help finding a woman winemaker? Oprah’s website interviews nine of the world’s top women vintners here.

So what am I going to open on Wednesday? What will the other Wine Predators bring to our twitter tasting party on Wednesday? Rumour has it there may be a Foley wine or two… you’ll just have to follow the hashtag #womenwinemakers on twitter on Wednesday starting  at 5pm or wait for the blog post!

And don’t get fooled by our Wednesday #winechat diversion from 6-7pm when we will also be tasting and tweeting about two wines from Uruguay, a Sauvigon Blanc and a Tannat from Bodegas Carrau made by, they say, the men in the family, a family that’s been involved in making wine for 260 years! (note: these wines are samples for review consideration).

7 thoughts on “A Toast to Women Wine Makers during Women’s History Month

  1. This is *great,* Gwendolyn! Count me in (as much as I can ~ I’ll have just picked up my daughter from the airport…)

    FYI, I’ll be talking about food & wine pairing on the Women in Wine panel at the Pinot Noir Summit on Sunday. There will be 3 winemakers on the panel:

    Kimberly Smith (Owner/Winemaker – La Montagne), Moira Conzelman (Owner – Harmonique) and Nicole Abiouness (Owner/Winemaker – Abiouness).

    Should be a *fun* (and delicious!) discussion!

    Do you have a list of female winemakers I could have (for tweeting purposes, etc.)?

    And further, would you like me to connect you with Debra Del Fiorentino, who runs the International Women’s Wine Competition? (*All* the judges are women, and we have a special category for “best wine by a female winemaker.”) It’s a *blast*!

    Thanks for staying in touch, Gwendolyn. Hope to meet you IRL soon!

    Cheers, Rosina

    On Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 11:45 PM, wine predator wrote:

    > Gwendolyn Alley aka Art Predator posted: “As March is Women’s History > Month, and Saturday March 8 is International Women’s Day, what better time > to focus on women winemakers than now? That’s the idea of the tweet-up on > the first Wednesday evening of March–to taste and tweet about wines made > b”

    Like

  2. Santa Barbara County has a number of fantastic female winemakers. Morgan Clendenen of Cold Heaven, Chris Curren of Curren, and Jennifer Tensley of Lea come to mind immediately.

    Like

  3. Chiming in from a winery with two women at the head of the company: Melissa Stackhouse makes the wine at J and Judy Jordan founded in 1986 and continues to run the winery today. Specializing in sparkling wines, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, you’ll find us at many retail shops throughout the country. We also have a lovely ladies throughout our management team: COO, VP of Global Sales, Marketing Director, HR Director, Brand Senior Manager and Hospitality Director. Yep, plenty of estrogen flowing at J. Please join us in celebrating Women’s History Month tomorrow.

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  4. PS, TCabrera’s comment reminds me that Bob Lindquist’s wife & partner Louisa is also a pioneer in working with Spanish varieties Albariño & Tempranillo in the Central Coast!

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