Women Who Changed the Wine Industry
More and more women are working in the wine industry, and are rising to the top of the ranks. Women are making inroads into all aspects of the wine industry and are becoming winery owners, sommeliers, writers, educators, winemakers, and vineyard managers. These women have made a lasting mark on the history of wine, and have shaped its future.
Dr. Ann Noble has been one of the wine industry’s most important researchers and educators over the past few decades. During her tenure as a professor at UC Davis, she mentored the likes of Heidi Peterson Barrett, Carol Shelton, and Mia Klein. Dr. Noble is noted for her extensive work in sensory evaluation, culminating in the development of the UC Davis Wine Aroma Wheel.
Heidi Peterson Barrett
Heidi Peterson Barrett was instrumental in developing the rich, fruit-forward, yet balanced style of winemaking that most of the world associates with California. She has consulted and made wine for some of California’s most well-known labels including Screaming Eagle, Dalla Valle, Vineyard 29, Grace Family, Paradigm Winery, Showket Vineyards, and Amuse Bouche.
Carol Shelton has developed into one of California’s best known Zinfandel producers, but this is just the latest accomplishment in her career. Shelton has commercially vinified over 40 grapes in her lifetime, and also a consulting company named Vincare. A graduate of UC Davis, Shelton helped Dr. Ann Noble research the Wine Aroma Wheel during the late 1970s.
Helen Turley consults for several of California’s cult wineries and also owns Marcassin; a Sonoma Coast label specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Until 1995, she was the winemaker for Turley Wine Cellars which is owned by her brother, Larry. Few California winemakers command the respect or can sell wine like Helen Turley.
Cathy Corison broke down many barriers for women in the wine industry. When Corison was hired as Freemark Abbey’s winemaker in 1978, it was almost unheard of for women to work in the cellar. She followed this position with several ground-breaking years at Chappellet Winery on Napa Valley’s famed Pritchard Hill, and currently owns Corison Winery just south of St Helena.
Mia Klein cites working for Cathy Corison at Chappellet Winery as one of her primary inspirations for reaching the pinnacle of the California wine industry. And Klein has done just that; succeeding Heidi Peterson Barrett at Dalla Valle and developing her own label named Selene. Klein also owns a winery consulting company with her business partner, Tony Soter.
Merry Edwards has mastered the art of making California Pinot Noir. Her label, Merry Edwards Wines, is based in the cool climate of the Russian River Valley. She also makes Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast and owns three vineyards in Sonoma County. Like Cathy Corison, Edwards was a trailblazer winemaker in the 1970s, and persevered to help level the playing field for other women.
Lane Tanner owns and operates Lane Tanner Winery, one of Santa Barbara’s top Pinot Noir and Syrah labels. Early in her career, Andre Tchelistcheff recognized her immense talent and took her under his wing. Only a few years after entering the industry, Tanner landed her first consulting job at Hitching Post. This restaurant/wine producer was immortalized in the movie, Sideways.
Andrea Immer-Robinson is a well-known ambassador for the world of wine. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute, she is also one of only a handful of Americans to pass the prestigious Master Sommelier examination. Andrea Immer-Robinson has written several best-selling wine books, and is also the television host of Simply Wine and Pairings with Andrea.
Karen MacNeil is one of the most versatile wine professionals in California. She has written for many national magazines and is the author of the extremely popular Wine Bible as well as several other books. MacNeil has a passion for enlightening others about proper wine enjoyment, and is the Chair of the Professional Wine Studies Program at the Culinary Institute of America’s Napa Valley location.
Mary Ewing Mulligan
Mary Ewing Mulligan is a distinguished wine critic, author, and educator. She is also the North American President of The Institute of the Masters of Wine, and was the first American woman to earn her diploma from this organization. Mulligan co-authored the Wine for Dummies series and contributes to several national newspapers and publications. She often judges some of the world’s most prestigious wine competitions.
Madeline Triffon is a Master Sommelier and one of America’s top wine service professionals. She is currently the Director of Wine and Beverages for the Unique Restaurant Corporation in Detroit. Triffon understands the restaurant industry like few others do and has won much critical acclaim for her talents.
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