There’s no denying it: the wine world is still consumed by the patriarchy. As of 2022, lead women winemakers make up just 10% of the global wine industry (20% in Santa Barbara County though!) This is despite the fact that approximately 50% of graduates from the UC Davis wine program are women.
But women winemakers are fighting back, fighting for their place in the industry — and they’re creating some of the best wines out there!
Here are 8 wines made by women winemakers that you need to drink right now. These women are changing the wine industry, and they deserve our support.
Next time you’re looking for a bottle of wine to drink, skip the big brands and head to your local wine store instead. Ask for some recommendations from the staff, or check out one of these eight wines made by women winemakers that I personally love and adore.
Let’s start with Alice Warnecke Sutro of Sutro Wine. Alice founded Sutro in 2012, and has made quite the impact since! Her philosophy of minimal intervention winemaking combined with restrained use of new oak allows the volcanic terroir to shine through each and every glass, making this wine truly unique! Most consumers rave about the complex aromas, elegant tannins and racy acidity of the Sutro wines, making that their hallmark attributes that you can expect in every glass of her Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
Next up is Rosemary Cakebread, Winemaker and Proprieter of Gallica. Gallica produces Rosé, Albariño, Grenache, Petite Sirah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each known for their restraint and elegance, Rosemary is a true master of wine. Not only did she graduate with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, but she worked various jobs within the wine industry, such as cellar jobs, to a wine making position. Rosemary has truly built a fulfilling career off of her love for wine, and it is shown in each bottle of Gallica.
Kerith Overstreet is a true inspiration when it comes to winemaking. Her dad used to always say to her, “you can do whatever you want after medical school”. So, after she completed medical school (and TWO fellowships), she decided to pursue her passions and take on winemaking. She enrolled at UC Davis to study enology and catapulted into the 2008 harvest. Starting with a single barrel, Kerith has grown Bruliam Wines to 1,000 cases a year, and offers Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay.
Meet Kelsey Phelps, of Seppi. The name actually comes from Kelsey’s grandfather, Joseph, a Napa Valley wine pioneer. Kelsey creates each bottle of Seppi wine with the intention of carrying forward her grandfather’s legacy, and I think everyone that has tried a bottle knows that she’s exceeding!. Her wines uphold the highest quality standards of the Phelps family while expressing her own modern take on California winemaking.
Katie Rouse and Corinne Rich are two fierce ladies bringing adventure, diversity, and rediscovery to California wines. With Corinne being born and raise in Sonoma Country with an education in Chemistry, and Katie having an education in Geology, Viticulture & Enology, these two truly make a dynamic duo. They both have a shared vision anchored in a passion of diversification and the future of California winemaking. They strive to showcase regions, varietals, and humans that have long had a presence in this industry, but have yet to been celebrated by many of its constituents – and that’s something I can stand behind!
Judy Jordan, founder of Geodesy (a play on the words Geology and Odyssey) had a long-held dream to dedicate her time and resources to advancing the next generation in the agriculture community. She has definitely fulfilled that! Judy created a philanthropic endeavor in Geodesy Wine with the sole purpose of advancing women from the agricultural community. Her goal was to connect these young women with a village of teachers, mentors, and internship sponsors who would guide, support, and empower them. This is why she also created the WG Edge (Women Gaining an Edge), which each purchase of Geodesy wine supports.
Next up we have Chelsea Hoff of Fearless Wines. Chelsea found inspiration for winemaking at an early age when her parents moved from Minneapolis to St. Helena, California in 2007. Chelsea’s parents, Susan & Duane Hoff, founded Fantesca Estate & Winery. The intimate workings of the winery captured Chelsea’s imagination and spirit, and she was completely enthralled with the winemaking process and the passion required to craft wines made to celebrate life’s best moments. From graduating at UC Davis, to interning at wineries overseas, Chelsea started Fearless Wines in 2016, and never looked back! Fearless Wines was created for those who are passionate for their dreams and are fierce in the tenacity of life.
Last (but definitely not least), we have Paula Kornell. Reviving a Napa Valley tradition begun by her father, pioneering winemaker Hanns Kornell of Kornell Champagne Cellars, Paula Kornell is carrying on the family legacy in her own way with Paula Kornell sparkling wines. Paula is a consultant and community leader with 30-plus (!) years of experience in the wine industry. As principal of Kornell Wine Company, she has consulted with esteemed wine brands and appellations throughout Napa and Sonoma Counties. The hospitality at her vineyard is unlike any other. You’ll always feel at home with every visit.
I’m always looking for new women winemakers to learn about and support – tell me your favorite in the comments below!