Welcoming more women into wine

Rebecca Willson, winemaker from Bremerton winery in Australia

Rebecca Willson, winemaker from Bremerton winery in Australia - Credit: Archant

As we commemorate 100 years of women’s suffrage the number of women in prominent positions in all areas of the wine trade is increasing all the time. When I began my wine trade career the wine trade was a very male-dominated arena throughout production, wholesaling, distribution, brand management and retail areas.

Rebecca Willson, winemaker from Bremerton winery in Australia

Rebecca Willson, winemaker from Bremerton winery in Australia - Credit: Archant

However, this is now changing as we have seen an increase in the number of women winebuyers throughout the trade, CEOs of companies such as Diana Hunter at Conviviality plc, and independent wine merchant owners (of which I am proud to be one).

There is another group who are increasingly making their mark, and those are the winemakers whose skills and expertise are reflected in the quality wines we see on our shelves.

However, instead of being able to shine as simply good winemakers they are often labelled as female winemakers and their wines analysed to find qualitative and stylistic differences between their wines and those made by their male counterparts.

The wines do however stand up to such scrutiny as the following comments show.

OId Adam, Virgilius and St Peret.

OId Adam, Virgilius and St Peret. - Credit: Archant

Three winemakers whose highly rated wines I have enjoyed over the years include Louisa Rose from Yalumba who, during her 20 year career at Yalumba, has become one of the world’s most respected winemakers leading the way in developing recognition of Australian Viognier and the understanding of Shiraz from the Barossa Valley.

She has received accolades for her work on Viognier at Yalumba and the creation of the ‘Virgilius’ Viognier, one of their strong brands and this work has gained her recognition within the worldwide wine trade.

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Rebecca Willson, from Bremerton Wines in Langhorne Creek, is a talented wine maker who now with her sister Lucy can be credited with developing the Willson family business into one of the best-known brands from South Australia’s Langhorne Creek wine region.

For the past 11 years Bremerton Wines has been awarded the James Halliday 5 star rated winery which ranks us in the top five per cent of all Australian wineries.

The Bremerton wines including the accredited Selkirk Shiraz and Tamblyn blend are made from their quality fruit and other Langhorne Creek producers and in the winery they have invested in premium quality oak making great wines that have strong demand both at home and in the export market.

They are considered to represent the terroir of Langhorne Creek whilst showing her stamp on their style and quality of rich fruit, elegance and aging potential especially with the premium red wines such as Old Adam Shiraz and Walter’s Cabernet.

Things have moved forward significantly from the original domestic 40ha arable farm of 1988 to the present day 120ha vineyard and winery with an international reputation and the last decade is definitely the two sisters’ success story based on wine quality.

Another family owned wine business with a rising female star winemaker is that of Jean luc Colombo in the Rhone Valley in France.

Here, Laure, Jean Luc’s daughter has learned her skill from her father who has a fine reputation in making wines in Cornas and as a negociant in the region.

After travelling the world she has returned to her roots and passed her Oenological exams and with her own company: Colombo et Fille she is working on developing her estate in St Peray hoping to achieve recognition for her wines as her father did in Cornas.

Whilst writing this many more names spring to mind that I should mention but I’ve run out of space, and may the best wines be made whether the winemaker is male or female. At least there’s some equality in the winery…