15 Women in Wine to Watch
From all corners of the globe, here are the names you want to know.
Evident in a wine-fueled roundtable of four California vintners and one chef on a sunny Sunday in Napa, there's no shortage of groundbreaking women in the wine industry. When you read about their discussion of breaking the glass ceiling (and pick up some of the bottles they recommend), you'll undoubtedly want to know more of the names fueling the wine world these days.
Here are 15 more women to watch, from all around the globe.
Chiara Pepe (Emidio Pepe winery, Italy)
Chiara Pepe is part of the fifth generation of famed Abruzzo estate Emidio Pepe, where everything takes place according to Mother Nature, with limited intervention. This vision was firmly underscored when nonno Emidio took over in the 1960s, and today, Pepe takes pride in sharing the winery’s story with the world, bringing new energy to the promotion of these game-changing wines and traveling nonstop around the globe—from Australia to America, with stops back home, of course, to take care of the place she is from, and, during harvest, to stomp some grapes herself.
Elena Fucci (Titolo, Italy)
Elena Fucci put Basilicata — that stretch at the bottom of Italy between coastal Apulia and Calabria — on the map when she fouded her winery in 2000. Her wines are made on a volcano: in the DOC of Aglianico del Vulture, with vineyards situated on a lava flow at 650 meters at the heart of the region's production. She makes one wine each year — her Titolo — and it's a deep, dark, brooding wine that reflects the ash and lava it's grown on. Each bottle is destined for a great future, as she says, and so too, we think, is she.
Caroline Frey (Château La Lagune; Paul Jaboulet Aîné, France)
Caroline Frey is in charge of her family's wineries, which include the acclaimed Chateau La Lagune in Bordeaux and Paul Jaboulet Aîné in the Rhône. She's implemented environmentally focused practices at these estates, including organic and biodynamic principles, with an eye to preserving their unique terroirs in the long term. It's impossible to put a list together about the next generation of women in wine without including her.
Chiara Vigo (Romeo del Castello, Italy)
Chiara Vigo and her mother Rosanna Romeo have revitalized their old family estate, Fattorie Romeo del Castello Mount Etna, as part of the sea of changes in quality happening on Mount Etna — an 11,000 foot active volcano that rises from the Mediterranean and sits above the calmer plains of Sicily, dominating the Italian wine conversation like it dominates the landscape around it. Vigo and Romeo produce outstanding reds from the traditional nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccino varieties that possess all the nerve and power this special place produces.
Dominique Moreau (Marie Courtin, France)
Dominique Moreau has been making Champagne at her own estate Marie Courtin, named for her grandmother, since 2005. She's located in the Aube, a veritable hotspot for small grower-producers to work outside of the large Champagne house system. Her vision there runs quite counter to the traditional production of wines in the region, for instead of blending, she makes wines from a single variety, single vineyard, and single vintage. Her grapes are biodynamically grown, and that, combined with the age and location of her vines, produces Champagnes of great clarity and power
Paola Medina Sheldon (Williams & Humbert, Spain)
Paola Medina Sheldon is the second generation of the Medina family, which currently owns Williams & Humbert, a historic sherry house founded in 1877 and known for its blended, sweetened wines. She brings intense focus and precision to her work, which involves producing an enormous variety of sherry styles. An expert in the art of blending, Sheldon says the Palomino grape, from which most sherry is made, offers the winemaker a treasure trove of possibility — few wines are as versatile and allow the winemaker such range of expression.
Filipa Pato (Filipa Pato, Portugal)
Filipa Pato is the daughter of Luis Pato, the iconic Portuguese winemaker who revitalized the Bairrada region, specifically with his quality work with the Baga variety. Filipa continues this labor of love under her own eponymous label, with a fresh, fun, and youthful approach. Her focus is on making authentic wines to best show this unique terroir, working only with indigenous grapes and minimal intervention in the winemaking process. Keep an eye out for her 3B rosé sparkling wine. It's a delicious and convivial introduction to what her vision is all about.
Eva Fricke (Weingut Eva Fricke, Germany)
Eva Fricke, having made wine all over the world, returned to her native Germany, and in 2006 she began to focus on making terroir-driven Riesling in the Rheingau. Her organic and biodynamic farming deliver soulful, distinguished, and individualized expressions of the grape, with each plot evidently distinct from the next, each perfectly showing its distinct mineral composition.
Samantha Sheehan (Poe Wines, USA)
Samantha Sheehan, founder of POE Wines, works with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier – the trifecta of Champagne grape – across a range of sites in Northern California. The goal of her project is to show the variety of distinctive terroirs available in California, and she only produces single-vineyard wines to showcase the unique areas she works with. Of particular note, her Mendocino Ridge range comes from vineyards at an elevation of 2,000 feet, above the fog line, and shows as much precision as its Burgundian counterparts. Her Vermouth project under her Mommenpop label, which uses exuberant citrus flavors paired with her rosé and white wines, is worth paying attention to as well.
Leah Jørgensen (Leah Jørgensen Cellars, USA)
Leah Jørgensen considers her home state of Oregon, which has gained fame for its Pinot Noir — the great grape of Burgundy — to be more akin to the Loire Valley. As a result, she's focused her own project on the production of that region's famous red: Cabernet Franc. Her interpretation of this grape is based on careful site selection and often has a unique twist: her Blanc de Cabernet Franc is the first commercial still white Franc in the world.
Anna Shafer (àMaurice, USA)
Anna Shafter stepped into the role of both a partner and winemaker for her family’s vineyard, àMaurice, located in the Blue Mountain foothills of Walla Walla, Washington, when she was just 25. Bringing her experience of working in and traveling to countries around the world, she's involved in every aspect of the vineyard and winery.
Sara Perez (Mas Martinet, Spain)
Sara Perez, the daughter of famed Priorat winemaker Josep Lluis Pérez, has created her own way in the wine world. Not only does she now helm Mas Martinet, the winery her father founded, but she established her own winery with her husband in nearby Montsant. Called Venus La Universal, it’s where she has been able to create and pursue her own vision without direct comparisons to what has been done before. Not that she’s worried. She has long held her own in the macho culture of Spanish winemaking, bringing her own interpretation of the terroir — with elegance and restraint — to the rich wines of this northeastern corner of Spain.
Ntsiki Biyela (Aslina, South Africa)
Ntsiki Biyela founded Aslina, the first black woman winemaker in South Africa after more than 13 years as winemaker and ambassador for Stellekaya Wines. She launched the brand in 2016 with four different wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Bordeaux blend. They reflect the hard work and realization of a dream — she overcame tremendous odds in leaving her rural town to study, going on to become one of her country's most acclaimed winemakers.
Eleni Vocoret (Domaine Eleni Et Édourad Vocoret, France)
Eleni Voucoret could be mistaken for one of the slew of women in long-established wine families gradually taking the helm of famed wineries in Chablis. But she’s not one of them. Half-Greek, half-German, she met her future husband while working in New Zealand, and the two came back to Chablis to work with a small slice of his family’s estate. Her work with Vincent Dauvissat, one of the benchmark winemakers of the region, has greatly influenced her work there, and the expressions of Chardonnay that this young domaine produces belies its age — it was only established after their return in 2013. Yes, she’s part of the next generation of women in wine making waves in this northern wine region in France, and she’s bringing an exciting new perspective that’s all her own.
Anna Flowerday (Te Whare Ra, New Zealand)
Anna Flowerday, along with her husband Jason, took over this historic Marlborough estate in 2003, after working in Australia's Clare Valley. Beyond the more famous Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir for which this area is known, they work with aromatic varieties like Riesling, PG, and GWT. Bringing that Clare Valley know-how to their home terroir, they are showcasing the further possibilities that Marlborough can produce. Te Whare Ra means "House of the Sun" in the Maori language, and each glass of wine from this organic estate perfectly distills the unique luminosity of this region.