Years ago, it was hard to find women working in the wine industry, let alone a female winemaker. However women are taking their place in the sector, becoming increasingly fascinated and involved.
Throughout most of wine’s long history, there are a number of great women who have boldly paved the way for new generations of vintners, achieving timeless inspiration. Women make up only 10% of lead winemakers in California, but the following women have achieved more than most, male or female. It’s why both of these women – Heidi Barrett, and Celia Welch, – deserve such praise and are some of the most inspirational women of wine.
Heidi Barrett is unquestionably one of the most remarkable women of wine; by combining both science and art, she creates what few can. With her early years spent surrounded by wineries and vineyards, not to mention a father who was a scientist-winemaker and an artist mother, there is no wonder Heidi kept close to and thrived at winemaking. In 1980, with a B.S. Degree in Fermentation Science from UC Davis, she took on a variety of jobs that were all part of the winemaking process. Three years later, 25 year-old Heidi earned the key role of winemaker at Buehler Vineyards. She first drew critical acclaim by improving wine quality and increasing production from 6,000 cases to 20,000 cases. In the late 80s she became an independent winemaker and was quickly hired by Dalla Valle Vineyards. Her career soared, as she developed several award-winning wines; within just a few years, her wines scored five perfect 100-point marks. Her renowned wines include Maya, a cult Cabernet from Dalla Valle, and Screaming Eagle Cabernet, which set a world record for the highest price ever paid for a bottle of wine at $500,000. Heidi uses her scientific background and knowledge to create the wines, but what sets her apart is how she’s mastered the art of blending. Today, in addition to designing beloved cult wines for multiple premium wineries, she has her own brands, La Sirena and Barrett & Barrett, a collaborative with her husband, Bo. Heidi truly deserves the praise given to her by TIME magazine when it called her “The Wine Diva of Napa.”
Pictured: Celia Welch
Another woman who excels at winemaking is Celia Welch. Having been raised by parents who were passionate about wine, she got an early start to learning the process of winemaking from her father who was a home winemaker. After earning a degree from UC Davis’ Viticulture & Enology school, she explored the world, learning different facets of the winemaking process. She returned to Napa Valley, continued to build her experience in the industry, and was hired as winemaker for Staglin Family Vineyards. She decided to focus on independent wine consulting and as a Cabernet Sauvignon specialist, went on to produce top-rated wines for several premium wineries. Celia’s childhood fascination with aromas and flavors has helped her to master a renowned style: her wines accentuate the flavor and purity of the quality fruit that produces them. In 2004 she took her expertise to a new level by founding her own brand, Corra, where she creates her own high-quality Cabs from grapes harvested in three of Napa Valley’s prime growing areas. She’s been honored as a Forbes.com “Top Ten Tastemaker” in 2006 and Food & Wine Magazine’s “Winemaker of the Year” in 2008. At the 2014 Napa Premiere Wine Auction, Celia’s 2012 Scarecrow wine was the highest priced wine, with 60 bottles selling for $260,000. With a portfolio of celebrated wines – from past clientele Staglin Family, Hartwell, DR Stephens and her current top-rated wines with Scarecrow, Keever, Lindstrom, Barbour and Corra – Celia Welch has proven her commitment to crafting excellence and distinguished herself as an invaluable resource to elite wineries.
By establishing their names within the wine industry, encouraging aspiring sommeliers, composing wine lists that rebel against categorization by reds, whites or regions, both of these women are leading pioneers encouraging other women to come together and make this industry stronger.
About Doris Hobbs: A San Francisco based Luxury Spokesmodel, Image Consultant, Contributing Editor, Key-Note Speaker, and Diabetes Advocate, Doris Hobbs is a creative visionary, accomplished entrepreneur, and fashion doyenne who has forged an unprecedented path in building her brand. Named by Diablo Magazine as “Best of the East Bay” as well as featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, InStyle Magazine, and CBS television. Doris has become a prominent public figure for her sought-after approach to refashioning diabetes in luxury and glamour.