Wine is often times described with feminine qualities – sexy finish, voluptuous layers, delicate aromas – yet the job of a winemaker has traditionally been dominated by male winemakers. Historically, women typically only became winemakers or vineyard owners when their fathers or husbands passed away and they inherited the job. Today the number of women intentionally setting out to have a career in wine is increasing. But, is it really?
The question became more pressing as my daughter – Princess Two – has informed me on a number of occasions that she wants to be a winemaker. In full disclosure, she is only 10-years-old and has visited a number of wineries with me in the U.S. and Italy where she and she sister tend to get a lot of attention. She also wants to be a horseback rider, scientist, artist, teacher and world explorer… I’m curious to see if her interest in wine sticks since she could theoretically do all of these. After all, winemaking is both an art and science…and if she sets up her winery in Santa Ynez Valley, where horse ranches and vineyards are regularly paired with one another, she could ride and teach. But I digress…
Princess Two’s future plans and the interviews I’ve conducted with female winemakers over the years got me to thinking and looking into the number of women owned wineries and female winemakers – was it in-fact growing? Turns out, yes, but the growth is very slooooow (and the amount of data on the topic is super limited!).
For instance, of the 4,800 wineries in California, only 10 percent have female lead winemakers. When it comes to women owned wineries (and those co-owned by women) though the number jumps up to about 19 percent, according to Woman Owned Wineries, a nationwide winery directory of female wine entrepreneurs. It’s still small, but it’s getting there.
While the numbers in the map look pretty low for women owned wineries, I personally think this is going to change dramatically over the years given more and more women are graduating with enology degrees. The following chart shows the number of women who graduated from the five schools issuing the most enology degrees in the U.S. in 2016. (As I mentioned earlier, the data on this is limited so I don’t have 2017 or 2018 figures.) While the numbers are increasing, male graduates still out weight females, but it doesn’t seem like as much of a gender gap compared to the number of female winemakers and women owned wineries. With that said, as more women earn enology degrees, more will become winemakers and then owners of wineries. At least that’s my thinking and what I intend to tell Princess Two the next time she’s mapping out her future plans. Education = Jobs in Winemaking = Confidence & Ability in Owning a Winery.
According to Amy Bess Cook, with Women Owned Wineries, “While the number of women entering the wine industry hasn’t changed remarkably in recent years, attention paid to women in wine has definitely spiked. This matters because it means the women who do choose to enter this heavily male-dominated field might be supported as they continue on their path. They might actually stick around and make real, lasting change. Fingers crossed.”
So who are some of these of these women are pioneering their way thorough the wine industry and setting the stage for future generations? I’ve had the privilege to meet several of them over the last few years and have highlighted their stories in Carpe Travel’s Interview with a Winemaker series. I look forward to meeting even more…and maybe one day seeing Princess Two added to the list of female winemakers. Oh, a mom can dream.