Celebrating Women in Wine
The month of March, 2022 celebrates Irish American Heritage, Nutrition and Mustaches nationally. I am not Irish and I do not have a mustache, but I know a thing or two about nutrition. In the US, March celebrates Women’s History Month. There are many outstanding women in history, but today, let’s focus on a select group of women who influenced wine and paved the way for the wine industry.
The Widow Barbe-Nicole Clicquot was the first woman to run a champagne house. She took over her family wine business when she was just 27 years old, after her husband died. In the early 19th century, the wine industry, like many others, was male dominated. Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, the worldwide recognized champagne with the distinctive yellow label, was headed by a woman well ahead of her time. Her achievements include the creation of the first modern pink champagne by adding red wine.
Dona Antonia Adelaide Ferreira
Born into the wine industry, Ferreira is a descendant of wine producers. Like Madame Clicquot, she became a widow in 1844 at the age of 33. At that point, she took over her family’s wine company to pour more resources into producing port wines. She then grew the business into one of the most well-known wineries in Douro Valley.
Sarah Morphew Stephen
In 1970, Sarah Morphew Stephen became the first women to hold the prestigious title of Master of Wine. At age 17, after being denied as a trainee for the Symingtons in Porto for reason of her gender, she attended Bordeaux University and studied oenology, where she worked beside the world-famous enologist Emile Peynaud. Nowadays, Master of Wine, the highest distinction for a Sommelier, is given to a lot more women. Today, Ms. Stephen is retired from the wine trade and resides in the Edinburgh area.
Karen MacNeil is the only American author to have won every major English language wine award. These include the James Beard award for Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year, the Louis Roederer Award for Best Consumer Wine Writing, and the International Wine and Spirits Award as the Global Wine Communicator of the Year. TIME Magazine called Karen “America’s Missionary of the Vine.” Her book, The Wine Bible, is one of the best-selling wine books in the United States, with over one million copies sold. Karen is an instructor at Stanford University and Chair Emerita of the Culinary Institute of America’s Rudd Center for Professional Wine Studies.
This British wine writer and wine critic rose to fame in the mid-1980s after becoming the first Master of Wine from outside the wine trade. This influential commentator in the wine business writes a weekly column for the Financial Times. Robinson co-authored the World Atlas of Wine with Hugh Johnson and is the editor of the Oxford Companion to Wine. She is also widely viewed as a world authority on ampelography (study of grape varieties) and has published extensively on the topic. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth appointed her advisor to the royal wine cellar. Robinson gives wine ratings based on both how the wine was showing at the time of tasting and its potential to improve with age.
In my daily activities, I happen to use the same system of 20 points when I manage the WineShop at Home portfolio of wines in tanks or in barrels. Ranking and classifying those lots allows me to blend or keep those wines separate throughout ageing.
Using the same terminology from her classification, I am confident to say that our wines are always Truly Exceptional, Superior and Distinguished.
For this Women’s History Month, I just wanted to give a special shoutout to all the women who work as Consultants in our business, juggling between family and wine affairs every single day. I also wanted to say a special thank you to all the women that are directly involved with the daily life of our winery like Susan, Sam, Wendy, Lauren, Barbara, Gina and Jane.
Happy Women’s History Month to all of you!