The recent attention being given to the Okanagan Valley and its wines inspired us to travel there to meet with its lead winemakers who are women. Our goal in visiting was to learn about their presence as winemakers in the region, colloquially referred to as "the Okanagan," and the career paths that led them there.
Lucia Albino Gilbert John C. Gilbert
We were recently gifted Napa: Behind the Bottle, a wonderful book of photographs in which Bill Tucker depicts the owners, winemakers, and workers of Napa's iconic family wineries and vineyards at the end of the 20th century. The first of these photographs are of Robert and Margrit Mondavi.
(Corison Winery, Napa, courtesy of Cathy Corison, the first woman winemaker/proprietor in Napa Valley. Photo credit: Bob McClenahan Photography)
The Mondavis are legends in the development of the California wine industry. Robert is viewed by many as instrumental in putting Napa Valley on its path to greatness, and both Margrit and Robert were known for the artistic sensibility that enveloped their love of wine, food, and the arts. In her preface to Napa: Behind the Bottle, Margrit noted that "This book is a collection of the passionate, good people that made the Napa Valley famous for its great wineries. Looking at these amazing faces, you understand that as Robert Mondavi said, 'Making good wine is a skill. Fine wine is an art.'" The "good people" photographed by Bill Tucker were associated with Napa's top wineries, as is further evidenced by their inclusion in James Laube's Wine Spectator's California Wine (1999) and Jim Gordon's Opus Vino (2010).
The Case Study
In light of the recent attention being given to changes in Napa Valley, we used the 87 wineries in Tucker's book as the basis for a case study of (a) wineries that have had a change in ownership since 2000, (b) who now owns these wineries, and (c) which of these wineries currently have a winemaker who is a woman.
We found that 83 (95%) of these wineries were independently family-owned in 2000, and in most cases by the founding family owners. By 2022, 64 (74%) of the wineries were still owned by the same family. Thus, 19 wineries (22%) had experienced a change in ownership since 2000 and are...
Our article introduces you to three important women in two of Italy's southern wine regions, each with different winery positions, but all working in regions less familiar to many lovers of good wine. The women are Ilaria Petitto, the CEO of Donnachiara winery in Irpinia, located east of Naples; Teresa Bruno, the owner of the Petilia family winery, also in Irpinia; and Barbara Tamburini, a consulting winemaker associated with a number of well-known wineries in various regions of Italy and now the head winemaker at Duca di Salaparuta in Sicily.
- No formal academic studies to date have addressed the important question of women's ownership of wineries in California, and it seemed to us that it was time to do so.
- "Illuminating the women winemakers themselves is crucial to our goal. We want to make their presence in the wine industry more visible, both in California and globally." -Lucia Albino Gilbert
- Positive strides are being made in California's male-dominated wine industry.
- We study women winemakers in major wine regions and what facilitates their success in the male-dominated field of winemaking. Reporting on prominent international wine regions where women are receiving increased recognition as winemakers is of particular interest.
- "We don't sit around and say what we already know about how challenging things are for women. We use our knowledge and experience as leaders to think about constructive change and how to bring it about," said Evelyne Boizel
- A leader in promoting gender equality, New Zealand was the first country to grant women the right to vote in 1893. Lucia and John Gilbert explore the country's egalitarian attitudes to women wanting to break into the field of winemaking.