5 Women Winemakers You Should Know About
March 04, 2023

5 Women Winemakers You Should Know About

Wine, especially well-made ones, can most times display characteristics that are more often than not considered feminine – with qualities like soft tannins, floral aromas, and delicate ripe fruits used to express the wine’s features. Meanwhile, in the realm of tastings, a study led by a team of Yale University scientists, suggested that women have a significantly better sense of taste and smell than men.

And yet, the winemaking industry stands to be male-dominated. In 2020, a survey from a group of Santa Clara University researchers showed that out of the 4000+ wineries in California, only 14% were reported to be women-led. However, that number has shown promising growth in comparison to a similar study made in 2011, where they found that only 11% of wineries were owned by women. With the continuous progress women have been making over the years, it only goes to show that there really is a quantifiable increase of aspiring female vintners.

This coming International Women’s month, we celebrate the women who are shattering glass ceilings and expectations in the wine industry. Here are five inspiring women who are part of the rising tide of females in wine:

Emma Gao - Silver Heights

Emma Gao is the General Manager and Chief Winemaker of Silver Heights wines, a groundbreaking winery from Ningxia, China. What started as a family interest in growing grapes led to Emma going to Bordeaux to study Oenology, becoming one of China’s first women to have such a credential. She continued to master the production of French wine across different regions and eventually brought her knowledge back to Ningxia, where she established the country’s most influential artisanal wineries. Today, Silver Heights has grown to be one of the region’s pioneer wineries and has consistently ranked as one of China’s world-class wines.

Try: Silver Heights Family Reserve White, Silver Heights Family Reserve Red

Jules Taylor - Jules Taylor Wines

Jules Taylor grew up in one of New Zealand’s leading regions for Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough. However, several vintages of Italian wine set her love for wine in stone, with her coming to view it as one of life’s pleasures to be shared with great company. She then spent several years using her knowledge in Viticulture and Oenology working for some of the region’s most prominent wineries. In 2001, Jules Taylor started a sideline project with merely 200 cases of wine to give her dream a shot. Today, Jules Taylor Wines is made with carefully picked grapes that meet the Jules Taylor standard.

Try: Jules Taylor Betterhalf Sauvignon Blanc, Jules Taylor Pinot Noir 2020

Stephanie Jacobs - Cakebread Cellars  

Stephanie was appointed Cakebread Cellars winemaker in 2017, becoming only the fourth winemaker in the winery’s 50+ years of producing top-grade vino. Being an exchange student in France sparked Stehpanie’s love for wine, which made her want to work for a small winery in the Sierra Foothills straight out of university. A few years later, she joined Cakebread Cellars as an Oenologist and was soon promoted to Assistant Winemaker. She then headed a project for Pinot Noir, which happens to be her favorite varietal. These days, Cakebread Cellars has grown to be a remarkable Napa Valley brand, with Stephanie leading the wine production.

Try: Cakebread Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Susana Balbo - Susana Balbo Wines

Being the most recognized female winemaker in Argentina, Susana Balbo first founded the winery under the name Dominio del Plata. In 1981, she got her Oenology degree, becoming the country's first woman to do so. Having served as a consultant for other wineries in Mendoza, she took on the challenge of redefining Torrontes and turning it into an elegant, classy wine –  which is what earned her the nickname “Queen of Torrontes” that she still carries to this day. This earned her a strong reputation amongst her colleagues in the industry. And so, In 1999, Susana founded her own winery, turning her lifelong dream into a reality. Today, Susana Balbo Wines is a family-run winery that is a trailblazing figure in the exportation of Argentinian wines, bringing top-quality vino that follows the vision and the perspective Susana wanted when she first started the company.

Try: Susana Balbo Signature Torrontes, Susana Balbo Signature Malbec

 Angelita Baucé - Chateau Pre La Lande

Last, but not least, this list would not be complete without Angelita Baucé, the Filipina winemaker of Chateau Pre La Lande. Founded in 2003 and owned by Angelita and her husband, Chateau Pre La Lande is built atop a beautiful hill overlooking the Dordogne Valley in the south of France. Despite being a young winery, they made the decision to use organic farming, which they believe allows the most stripped-down expression of the terroir. Being an intimately-run winery, Angelita focuses on and takes care of the viticulture, while her husband is in charge of the vinification and maturation of the grapes – a real family effort! Now, Angelita is based in France and is very hands-on in the business, from production to selling. A true mark of her passion for wine, Chateau Pre La Lande is continuously growing into being a highly-esteemed winery.

Try: Chateau Pre la Lande Terra Cotta Merlot Cabernet Franc 2017

More than the pioneering work that these women do, more and more have been paving the way in the industry. With the growing number of female wine students and educators, especially here in the Philippines, we wouldn’t be surprised when the time comes that there will be as many notable women as there are men in the industry, locally and globally.

Nonetheless, in more recent years, more and more people have taken an interest in wine in general, which is why it’s becoming easier for people to get nuggets of information regarding the industry. If you’re looking to try any of these wines you can check them out and over 2,000 more wines on the Winery.ph website.