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Women Winemakers of USA

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13/02/2019 ‘Women, like fine wine, become sweeter with age’, here are some of the most significant women in the USA who make their own wine.

With this quote, we have some women who are leading the wine industry in the United States.

Pauline Lhote

She is a French female winemaker based in Napa, California. She is known for her sparkling wine. She is the lead sparkling winemaker at Domaine Chandon. Pauline grew up in the Champagne region, so grape-growing and winemaking was a part of her life since she was born. She got aspired by Dawnine Dyer, the first female winemaker for Chandon in the 1970s. That is how she began her own winery. She wanted to carry forward the female legacy in the field of wines and especially sparkling wine. She always wanted to make bubbles and she worked at Moët & Chandon and Nicolas Feuillatte before Chandon. She loves being a winemaker, she believes the process to be extremely diverse, from walking the vineyard, to harvest, to tasting the wine throughout the entire winemaking process as it evolves, to bottling and finally being able to talk about it. According to Pauline, it is important to be strong, confident and assertive especially when you are a young woman in the male-dominated industry.

Anne Moller-Racke

She is the President and Winegrower at Donum Estate based in Northern California. She has been in the wine industry for 37 years and founded Donum in 2001. Donum is considered to be one of the top pinot noir producers in California. For her, farming the grapes is the most important aspect of winemaking. According to her, one needs to have patience, if it is about wine. It is a slow process, you can harvest only once a year and hence there is no fast-forward to it. She is known for her jolly nature and pure positivity. She actually sees the glass half-full. For her, winemaking is an art, it will help you share the meal, have a conversation and smell the Pinot.

Kerith Overstreet

This is one woman who did medical schooling and post that she pursued her passion of being a winemaker. Overstreet started ‘Bruliam’, the vineyard which was named after her 3 children. Starting with a single barrel in 2008, she has grown Bruliam Wines to 1000 cases a year. Kerith’s deepest passion is to make wine, but still, she manages day-to-day winery operations. Besides, all these, there are a couple of titles in her kitty, Chief of Grower Relations, Head of Marketing, Director of Sales, and Go-to Tank Sanitizer.  She writes copy for website, labels, tasting notes and tech sheets.  Because of her medical background and being in the wine industry, she is often asked to speak at the events.

Cathy Corison

Cathy is an American winemaker and specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon. Corsion Winery was founded in 1987. Cathy was the San Francisco Chronicle Winemaker of the Year in 2011. Cathy Corison was never afraid of standing up in a male-driven environment. She believes in her motto, which is, “integrity is the only thing any of us have to sell.” With this motto in her life, she has achieved and is proud of the 30 vintages that are in the barn of Corison Napa Valley Cabernet.

Michele Ouellet and Melinda Kearney

They are the mother-daughter duo who are the winemakers for Lorenza Wines. When they first started Lorenza, Lorenza did not receive much recognition, of the fact it was low-alcohol and pale pink rose wine. Another reason for it was that it was started by two women. But they were confident and believed that they were much ahead of their time and hence did stick to their passion. The success of Lorenza did prove that pink and rose is not only for girls. Their thoughts, ‘I think we've passed a point where women need to be categorized as female winemakers. Some of the best wines in the world are made by women. They deserve to be celebrated equally because of the quality of the wine, not just because they are women.’

Eileen Crane

She is the most experienced sparkling winemaker in the United States. She has spent more than 35 years in the wine industry. Eileen is the CEO and winemaker at Domaine Carneros. She is most proud of her ‘Blanc de Blancs cuvée, Le Rêve’, which is recognized worldwide as America’s finest sparkler. For her, making great wine is her passion and which means she can’t afford to miss out on the details. One has to attend to the rhythm of the grapes and you don’t have to settle for the second best. There is no formula but to work hard.

Geneviève Janssens’s

Her secret to winemaking success is to focus on quality. Genevieve is the Chief Winemaker for Robert Mondavi Winery in the Napa Valley. She followed her father’s footsteps who believed in surviving in whatever conditions if you have the best quality, and looking at her father succeed in difficult times just because of the quality, she gave utmost importance to quality over anything. One thing she loves about the winemaking community in Napa Valley is the richness in innovation and creativity. There is indeed great diversity in winemaking with over 400 wineries and over 300 soil variations.

Margo Van Staaveren

She has been working at Chateau St. Jean for the past 37 years. She was titled “Winemaker of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2008. She plays an important role in the winemaking process. She is the one who takes the final call on decisions involving blend and style which helps produce consistently high-quality wines in the super premium and luxury category. She believes in the art of blending and so has been able to produce one of the finest wines for the country. One of the greatest accomplishments is to create a wine style or signature blend that carries from vintage to vintage while still capturing the uniqueness of that particular growing year.

Krista Scruggs

Krista is the founder and owner of ZAFA wines. Her motto, ‘Farm and Ferment’ or ‘Forage and Ferment’. There is no fining, filtering, additives used in the winery neither there is any usage of herbicides or synthetic pesticides in the vineyards. ZAFA is equal to farming, foraging and fermenting! Deirdre Heekin is one woman who has inspired her and she will always look onto her.

Kathryn Hall

Kathryn has been in the wine business since the 1970s. She is the proprietor of HALL Wines and WALT Wines in California. She is a New York Times Best Selling Author, A Perfect Score, and besides being into wine, she is also a successful businesswoman, attorney, and community activist. She is proud of the fact that she has been able to grow a larger number of wines by maintaining the quality of wines. She has never compromised on the quality aspect just because of the larger production.

Stephanie Jacobs

She was appointed Cakebread Cellars’ Winemaker in 2017, becoming the fourth winemaker in the winery’s 40+ year history. Her interest in wine came while she participated in an exchange program in France. Further, she decided to turn this passion into a profession. In 2001, she went to work for Bogle Vineyards as an enologist before she landed with Cakebread. She is one active woman in the Napa Valley Wine Technical Group.

Melissa Burr

Melissa was raised in the Williamette Valley. She studied winemaking and fermentation science at OSU and interned during harvest for several local wineries before becoming production winemaker for Cooper Mountain. In 2003, Burr joined Stoller Family Estate as the winery’s first dedicated winemaker. At Stoller, she’s helped grow production from 1,000 cases to 60,000. In 2013, Burr partnered with Stoller to launch History, a brand dedicated to paying homage to historic vineyards in the Pacific Northwest.

Shauna Rosenblum

Shauna is the winemaker for Rock Wall Wine Company. She learned the art of winemaking from her father who was a successful winemaker in his times. She did not use her family name for her winemaking endeavor and did everything on her own. She loves making sparkling wine. Her old favorites are Chardonnay and Cab and more of esoteric varieties like Fiano and Teroldego.  She considers her wine to be her artistic medium, so her glass of wine is an ephemeral art.

Kelly Urbanik Koch

She belongs to California. Kelly is the winemaker at Macari Vineyards. She also leads the winemaking team for a Long Island Producer. Since childhood, she had a love for wine. She used to forge a connection to vineyards in her hometown and made homemade wine with her father and grandfather. Kelly qualifies as a B.S. in viticulture & enology from UC Davis. She has worked at several prestigious wineries that include Beringer and Bouchaine Vineyards in California, and Maison Louis Jadot in France. She moved to Macari in 2006, and her work has been honored with multiple awards and recognition.

Stacy Clark

She is the winemaker for Charles Krug Winery wherein she oversees the production of the brand’s rich red varietals and lush lovely whites. She has over 25 years of experience of fine winemaking in Napa Valley. She loves experimenting, so one of the things which she loves about Charles Krug Winery is the opportunity to experiment while creating their reserve wines. According to her, one of the biggest challenges is to optimize the growing season and harvest, but she has proven herself capable of handling the weather.

Linda Trotta

She began her winemaking career almost over three decades ago. She is the head winemaker at Jamieson Ranch Vineyards. She was titled Winemaker for Jamieson Ranch Vineyards in 2017. She is also the chair of Wine Women, an organization that advocates for the advancement of women working in the wine industry. Linda takes into her account entire winemaking including the winery exclusive products along with widely distributed Double Lariat, Reata, Light Horse and Whiplash brands. Linda has worked harvests around the world including in South Africa and Chile. She has also managed estate vineyards and has worked with long-time grower partners throughout key wine regions in appellations within California and Washington.

Sally Johnson

Sally Johnson found her way out in the wine industry. She is the winemaker at Pride Mountain Vineyards. Sally is based in Napa, California and is well known for her Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Her wines are ranked in Wine Spectator’s top 100 wine list. She's an expert of fine fromage and is particularly gifted with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It is difficult to have work-life balance especially if you are in the wine industry and if you are a woman, but still, she is successful in the wine industry.

 Erin Miller

She is the winemaker at Twomey Cellars/Silver Oak in Napa and Sonama Valleys based in California. She has an interesting story of being a winemaker. Erin was on her way to West Africa, but because she wanted to work down some of her student loan debt, she worked at harvest in Napa and since then it is not turning back. ‘There is sheer joy in winemaking.’ For her, winemaking is about grit and collaboration. She would like to be a mentor for the next generation because of her incredible wine.

Gina Gallo

Gina is the winemaker at Gallo Signature in Northern California. Gina believes that her winemaking skills have come from her grandfather, Julio. The other important person is her brother, who keeps her supplied with the finest grapes that can be grown in California. Gina has developed a bold, sensual style of winemaking. She loves making wine from end number of varietals. She is also the past president of the International Wine & Spirit competition. She was inducted into the 2016 James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Samantha Sheehan

She is the founder of POE wines. She got inspired by the wines she tasted in Burgandy and Champagne. Her motto is to create alluring, vineyard specific and age-worthy wines revealing California. POE produces traditional Champagne method sparkling wines, rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and a nouveau from Pinot Noir. Limited quantity wines are made and are sold off directly to high-end restaurants around the country. The wines made have minimal intervention and no additives are used.

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