Cheers: Women Winemakers

  Raise a glass (ceiling) with Alexis Korman and the women in the world of wine and beyond.

Whether they work the stick, crush the grapes or manage the still, women have been key players in the drinking domain for decades (particularly in the years since 1970, when Sarah Morphew Stephen became the first woman to pass the grueling Master of Wine examination). So here’s to ladies and libations—and where you can see four of the industry’s brightest stars in action.

Alessia Antinori, U.S. Ambassador at Marchesi Antinori in Florence, Italy
With a family that’s been in the wine business for 26 generations (since 1385), you could say that vino flows through Alessia Antinori’s veins. “When I started in the wine world, there were not many women, especially in Italy,” said Antinori, who is considered the driving force behind Montenisa Franciacorta, Antinori’s successful sparkling wine brand. “Today, from marketing to sales and also winemaking, there are many more women involved, and I think they can make a difference.”

To visit: Journey through the rich history of the Antinori family at Marchesi Antinori Chianti Classico Cellar in Firenze, open Monday through Saturday (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and on Sunday (11 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Tours cost €20 and are conducted in Italian and English.

Genevieve Janssens, Director of Winemaking at Robert Mondavi Winery in Oakville, California
Working under Napa’s iconic winemaker, Robert Mondavi, would have been a challenge for any aspiring vintner, regardless of gender, but “[Mondavi] didn’t care whether I was a man or a woman, just so long as I respected the vineyards and made the best wines possible,” Janssens said. “There will always be preconceived notions about the Napa Valley ‘boys club’ of winemaking, but I pay no attention to that. The greatest joy and challenge for me is balancing the busy vineyard life [with] raising a family, which is something most women [both] in and out of my field can relate to.”

To visit: The winery is open to visitors daily (except major holidays), from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To make a reservation, visit

Lucia Gonzales, Bartender at Prizefighter in Emeryville, California, and Ambassador for Women & Whiskies at Campari America
When she’s not crafting serious drinks at Prizefighter—a minimalist-chic Bay-area bar staffed with some of the nation’s top talent—Gonzales is Campari America’s ambassador for Women & Whiskies, a “program not just about exposing more women to whisky, but [about] giving women the knowledge so they feel comfortable tasting, talking and buying a spirit that traditionally has been marketed to men,” said Gonzales.

To visit: Prizefighter is open Monday through Friday (4 p.m. to 2 a.m.) and on weekends (2 p.m. to 2 a.m.). For Women & Whiskies events, visit

Diane Flynt, President at Foggy Ridge Cider in Dubspur, Virginia
Cider’s recent surge in popularity can be tied, in part, to Flynt, who planted her first cider-apple orchard in 1997 on a mountainous site in the Appalachians, resulting in an acclaimed final product. “Women beverage professionals bring all the talents and capabilities to fermenting wine and cider that we bring to all aspects of our lives,” noted Flynt. “We respect ingredients; we get our hands dirty; we create compelling visions for fruit growing, beverage making and educating consumers. And we do all this, when necessary, in four-inch heels.”

To visit: Cider lovers can tour the facility on weekends from April through December, Fridays and Sundays (12 p.m. to 5 p.m.) and Saturdays (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Tastings cost $5.

Alessia Antinori , Genevieve Janssens , Lucia Gonzales , Diane Flynt
Posted On: 01 November 2013    Print    Email
Author: Alexis Korman

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