I created this infographics about Wine and Women upon my Canadian’s friend Nicole Mc Kay from Social Sips in Vancouver request. Wine and Women is a topic that comes back regularly, but most people put into the light some famous and successfull women winemakers, without going any further. This is why I thought it might be interesting to approach this topic from a diffrent perspective, looking at how many women actually work in the wne industry, where, in which positions and how this was in the past. I also thought that presenting this as an infographics would make it easier for everyone 🙂
First and foremost, it is important to underline that women have always played a role in wine, even in the days when they were only allowed to pour it! Let’s look at this more into details…
Women are only allowed to serve wine to men, not to drink it.
The widows’ times
1788: The recently widowed Françoise Joséphine de Lur-Saluces takes over the estate at Château YQUEM.
1805: Barbe Nicole Clicquot takes over the estate after her husband’s death, to become the notorious VEUVE CLICQUOT. She invents the stiring and disgorging methods as well as the famous yellow coloured label.
1886: The first woman winemaker in California, JOSEPHINE TYCHSON, founded her winery in 1886, after the tragic death of her husband.
However during that same period some deep-rooted traditions perpetuate, such as:
In most wineries, women are not allowed to enter in the vinification cellar as their menstruation are supposed to make the wine turn bad!
The harvest is done almost only by women (men being in the cellar…), but they are either half paid or not paid at all (which is totally legal in those times).
The sixties: 1st Women Winemakers
In 1965 MARYANN GRAF became the first woman to graduate from the Viticulture and Oenology department at UC Davis.
In the same decade, a few women graduate from ” Diplôme National d’Oeonologie” in Montpellier to become oenologists.
The eighties: 1st Wine Business Women
In 1982 the talented Claude Vialade becomes Export Director of France’s leading négociant Val d’Orbieu.
In 1988 Philippine de Rotschild takes over the estate Château MOUTON ROTSCHILD after her dad’s death.
Whereas in the past most women in the wine industry were widows are had just inherited the estate, now women choose their career and graduate for it. Therefore nowadays numerous women lead or play a key role in the wine industry, whether on the winemaking side or as owners, journalists, oenologists, etc.
Even if they are up to 50% to graduate with renowned diplomas sur as the one from UC Davis or Montpellier, currently we estimate that only 20% of all US winemakers are women, 30% in France. Some famous oenologists include Gina Gallo and Dany Rolland.
Sommelier used to be a men’s job only. Nowadays, more and more women have enough confidence and insurance to become sommelier, and they represent approximately 25% of the job roles in the industry in Europe and North America. In 2010, out of the 12 finalists for the best sommelier of the world, 4 were women. In Sweden, 80% of sommeliers are women, and in some countries such as Russia and Japan they represent a large majority.
Owners and Directors
When they were only just above 10% to own or run an estate at the end of the eighties, nowadays they are 28%. Some famous women estate owners and leaders include Corinne Mentzelopoulos at Chateau Margaux and Caroline Frey at Paul Jaboulet Aîné. However nowadays women can get to a leading position in a wine estate without being part of the family of the owner, such as Margareth Henriquez who runs Krug in Champagne.
Journalists & Bloggers
On the editorial side, women are predominant. To name just a few celebs: The leading UK wine critic Jancis Robinson MW , the Wine Advocate’s Editor in Chief Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW and the korean Jeannie Cho Lee MW, the American Madeline Puckette from Wine Folly and the Canadian Aurélia Filion from Bu sur le web.
Buying, Sales & Marketing
There again, women represent a majority of the job positions. We can name Mathilde Chapoutier recently promoted Sales Director at Chappoutier and Serena Sutcliffe MW at the head of Sotheby’s international wine department.
A feminine palate?
This topic has been very much discussed and for sure, what we can say today is that both men and women have skills to make and taste wines, but :
In the UK and Australia, women tend to prefer white wine to red.
In the US and China, it is the other way around.
Surprisingly enough, there are more women drinking wine than men in Australia and the US!
Apart from that, scientific literature says that there are definitely some gender differences in the sense of smell. We all know that pregnant women have a heightened sense of smell. A clinic in Philadelphia made some reserach in 2005 and found out that women who were of reproductive age saw their sensitivity to odors increase dramatically. Some teachers at the WSET say that women student tend to pick up things at tastings quicker than men. However, nothing can replace training…