Winemaking and the XX Chromosome

Xx Do women winemakers bring anything to the act of making wine that ellude male winemakers?

This is the question that struck me as I looked at a fascinating new website highlighted in an article at Wines & Vines Magazine. The website is essentially a searchable database of woman winemakers whereby one can search for winemakers of the more interesting sex by name, region or winery.

The site itself has the goal of providing women with more networking opportunities, encouragement and recognition of their contributions to the world of winemaking.

But beyond the issues of woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, I can't stop wondering if there is anything about the xx chromosome that provides advantages or disadvantages to the winemaking process.

One female winemaker I worked with said they believe that the naturally more nurturing character of women provided them with an advantage in winemaking. How that would be tested I'm not sure, but I don't dismiss the idea out of hand.

It is apparently also true that women have more tastebuds than men. And during ovulation, women have an enhanced sense of taste and smell. Is this an advantage?

It's all a very intriguing question. More to the point, however, is this effort to draw attention to the women who occupy positions of winemaker. That number has certainly increased over the past 20 years, as has the number of women in most formerly male dominated industries. It all leads to a hearty "Well Done!" I say.

One Response

  1. [email protected] - August 10, 2011

    Hi Tom: After many years of being in the biz and working with lots of men I hesitate on making any distinctions between what women vs. men bring to wine making. It takes a certain commitment and (slightly crazy) passion to make wine and continue to do it year after year and in that I think male and female winemakers have more in common than anything else. What I know from my own experience, though (and believe to be a limiting factor for women as winemakers), is the difficulty of balancing such a life-consuming job with one’s family life. Women, of course, aren’t the only ones with this problem, but I think in our culture we tend to rely on women to continue to be the center and heart of the family even when they have a demanding job — both can be mutually exclusive, especially when young children are involved. Success in this job if one has a family takes a very supportive partner, too!! I’m really glad that Professor Gilbert put this project together — I know that she (and her husband) spent a lot of time and effort in research and interviews and it is a very worthy project. I’m looking forward to seeing it grow!

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