As part of our ongoing Female Forces series to celebrate Women’s History Month (March), we’re highlighting some of the leading women in wine.
Wine has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. Most of the top vineyards, wineries, and brands have been founded by, and are run by men. And while women have been producing quality wines for decades, just 10 percent of California (which produces nearly 90 percent of the country’s wine) vintners are female.
But times are changing as more women are entering the industry and creating a buzz. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up five incredible female winemakers who are changing the face of the industry by making wine that you can feel good about drinking.
1. Krista Scruggs, ZAFA Wines
Named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 40 under 40 Tastemakers of 2018, Krista Scruggs grew up visiting her grandparent’s farm in Visalia, Calif., before flying across the world to work a harvest in France. The experience changed her, prompting her to quit her job as a shipping coordinator and take up her calling as a winemaker and vigneron. Scruggs produced her first vintage of ZAFA in 2017. Today, she grows her own grapes on her farm in Vermont and works round-the-clock to produce her all-natural wine (no fining, additives, herbicides, or synthetic pesticides are involved in the making of any of her bottles) almost all of which is made with a mix of grapes and apples. Her co-fermentations are bursting with flavor, and their touch of wildness really makes them stand out in a crowded market.
2. Kathryn Hall, Walt Wines and Hall Wines
The proprietor of not one but two wine labels, Kathryn Hall founded Hall Wines alongside her husband Craig and runs Walt Wines as a solo venture. Hall grew up in a vineyard — her parents grew six different grapes that they sold to different wineries — and credits her parents as the inspiration behind both of her labels. Located in Napa Valley, both of Hall’s wineries (which are restored historic wineries) employ cutting-edge technology in order to produce grapes that express the unique and diverse character of Napa Valley’s soils and climate. Her meticulous attention to detail results in some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc’s on the market. All of that hard work combined with Hall’s dedication to sustainability paid off: in 2013, she had the first LEED Gold Certified winery in the state of California.
3. Elena Walch, Elena Walch Wines
Credited with revolutionizing the reputation of Atlo Adige wines, Elena Walch wasn’t always into wine. An architect by trade, Walch married into a family that had a long history in the winemaking business. Today, her brand Elena Walch Wines, which she co-owns with daughters Julia and Karoline, is the only Alto Adige producer on the National Association of Italian Sommeliers “Top 21 Italian wine estates” list. Walch also has a strong commitment to sustainability and has been vocal about the steps she’s been taking to make all of her vineyards and cellars more environmentally friendly.
4. Berlin Kelly, Proud Pour
Five years ago, Proud Pour founder Berlin Kelly was working on Wall Street and homebrewing beer, wine, and kombucha in her small New York City apartment. Today, her wildly popular wines help fund local environmental restoration. For every bottle of Mendocino Country Sauvignon Blanc that she sells, Kelly helps to restore 100 wild oysters to local waters which will then filter 3,000 gallons of water a day. It doesn’t stop there, though. For every bottle of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that sells, 875 wildflowers are planted, providing 90 square feet of bee habitat and forage. To date, Proud Pour fans have restored 10 million oysters and planted 55 acres of bee habitats. Kelly’s wines are high quality, deliciously smooth, and, best of all, you feel good about drinking them.
5. Michele Ouelett and Melinda Kearney, Lorenza Wine Company
Mother-daughter duo Melinda Kearney and Michele Ouelett are the connoisseurs behind Lorenza Wine Company. The wine industry insider and model launched the brand in 2008, introducing their unique take on rosé. They’ve since added a canned rosé spritzer to their lineup, and continue to offer their trademark rosé with fruit sourced from several vineyards in the Lodi area, all of which are over 100 years old. While they firmly believe that rosé is for everyone, Kearney and Ouelett work hard to ensure that their wine stays light and fruity, all the more appealing for their female customers.
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