Thursday, March 4, 2010

Wine, Women and... Power!

So this is Women’s History Month, right? And Monday, March 8th is International Women’s Day, correct? And the wine you are drinking right now, made by a woman? Maybe... And in a lot of cases, people don’t even know, don’t think it matters. But just like any other product, it is interesting, if not completely earth shattering, to learn about the people behind it.

I’ve heard some people in the wine industry distinguish wines made by men from wines made by women - for example, when tasting wines from Palmaz Vineyards in Napa Valley, one can discuss the differences from one vintage to the next of their top flight Cabernet - Mia Klein is at the helm of the winemaking team, a changeover from her male predecessor both in style and approachability. The differences between the vintages that overlap this personnel change are indeed cliché - the male winemaker’s wine could still stand some aging, for it is brash and far too edgy to be consumed now. Ms Mia’s wine, made in the ensuing year, is indeed more approachable with silkier tannins, enjoyable now although it has the characteristics to develop with some cellar time. But this is not always the case.

Prime example: Screaming Eagle, America’s favorite Cult Cabernet, a massive, tannic bottle of wine that needs at least a decade to begin to show its goods and can definitely be characterized as “masculine” in style, made by the talented and lovely Heidi Peterson Barrett. (Also maker of Women of the Vine Cellars Syrah Napa Valley 2006, Author Deborah Brenner's label)

Women wield power in the wine industry in other ways, as well. Not only are we supposed to have more keen palates than our male counterparts, but depending on what study you read (I swear by Adams Beverage, personally) women account for at least 60% of the buyers of wine in America - don’t we usually do all the shopping, anyway? And we make our decisions based on advice from our girls.

More and more we are seeing women wine writers and bloggers taking a front row seat, women in the influential rolls of Sommelier and Buyer at top restaurants and retailers everywhere, and most importantly, women in the stores holding their own and ordering from the wine list when dining out with their partners.

All of this is to make a statement about Wine, Women and Power, and to take my hat off to all my sisters of the vine. I salute you!

This blog is dedicated to all the women who have paved the way for me and other young rising stars in the wine world, especially
Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW
Linda Lawry CWE
Margrit Biever Mondavi
Ambassador Kathryn Hall
Gabrielle Leonhard
Melanie Young
Karen Jess-Lindsley
Michaela Rodeno
Elaine Honig
Margaret Duckhorn
and Julie Johnson.