Women and Winemaking: The Problematic Report

femaleFar be it for me to be they guy who sticks his thumb in the pie on International Women’s Day, but…Really:

“women winemakers’ detailed approach and nuanced use of language could help tasters pick up on more subtle flavors. “Women tend to make cleaner wines, and even though it sounds like a generalization, they tend to have detail in tasting notes,”


“According to Hopkins, who works with both male and female winemakers, men tend to critique wines using adjectives that focus on structure and power, while ‘women tend to get excited about the suppleness of the tannins, the mouthfeel, the finesse of the notes.’ ”

The article from which I quote is entitled, “These Women Winemakers are  Changing the Way We Drink”. Well, they aren’t, despite the fact of profiling one particularly great winemaker, Kathleen Inman.

It all begs the question, is it necessary to give oneself almost completely over to hyperbole in order to write about the status of women in the wine business. I’m almost positive the answer is, “no”.

If you wanted to write an article about women’s contribution to American winemaking you could do so with reference to the past and present and to the great number of women who have led wineries, pioneered their gender’s work in the industry, and not the great wines and wineries they have and do lead.

We could write about female winemakers, executives and winery owners such as  Milla Handley,Delia Viader,  Michaela Rodeno, Mia Klein, Zelma Long, Carol Shelton, Mary Ann Graf, Helen Turley, Eileen Crane, Heidi Peterson Barrett, Lane Tanner, Carole Meredith, Cathy Corison, Celia Welch, Margo Van Staaveren, Helen Keplinger, Christina Benz, Dawnine Dyer, Gina Gallo, Jill Davis, Tracey Reichow, Margaret Davenport, Marimar Torres, Pam Starr.

How hard would it be to write about the accomplishments of women by referencing and profiling the women noted above as well as the many other not mentioned?

Is it necessary instead to falsely suggest some sea change in winemaking attributed to women?

Is it necessary to falsely suggest women have some native insight into “suppleness” that men don’t possess?

Is it necessary to falsely suggest women make “cleaner” wines than men?

Is it necessary to falsely say that women produce more detailed tasting notes?

Why not instead chronicle the huge contribution to the current field of winemaking made by the women mentioned above as well as many others?


Posted In: Culture and Wine


4 Responses

  1. Craig Stancliff - March 8, 2017

    My thoughts, when I read the article you reference, were that it was an unneeded piece of quasi-journalism. Old news, at best.

  2. Jamie - March 9, 2017

    THANK YOU! As a woman in wine production, I am the first to say that the wine industry has issues with women. I have experienced it firsthand. But I have yet to read an article on the subject (except one, written by an actual woman in wine production) that is anything less than completely tone deaf.

    It seems to me it’s actually the wine media that does a lot of the damage here. The day we see female winemakers get covered to the same extent as males, with NO mention of their gender, will be a day I celebrate.

    • Craig Stancliff - March 9, 2017


  3. Mark.L - March 14, 2017

    Women working in any industry in my country is underestimate not say in wine. But we can’t deny that they invest and making really good effort to the industry – like men . Old but gold this topic never let me down.

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