Women keep making news in the wine industry. A couple were recently elevated to run big wine brands. Here, we feature 7 wonderful and impressive women in wine you should know.
Claire Ducrocq Weinkauf
- French-born, business school grad, international harvest intern, Chilean wine degree
- Paul Hobbs acolyte, business owner, wine consultant, multi-lingual
Whew! This woman has done it all yet keeps innovating at her Calistoga-based company.
Claire started Picayune Cellars (meaning “a little French”) to craft classic Napa Valley wines at reasonable prices. Who doesn’t love that?
Using the French négociant model, she keeps the sources of her wines secret. This technique creates mystery and allure in wines of surprising depth and character. And she keeps the prices down.
Her signature wine, Padlock, is her most famous and popular, making The French Laundry wine list.
This talented winemaker keeps wine at the center of her life with her husband, Spottswoode winemaker, Aron Weinkauf. They have a young son.
Dr. Adrianna Catena
What a story!
- Youngest great-granddaughter of Argentinian wine pioneer, Nicholas Catena
- Educated at UC Berkley and Oxford, passionate historian
- Sister to famed winemaker, Dr. Laura Catena
The sisters created a fuss in 2015 when designing a wine label depicting the Malbec grape’s 2,000-year history through a visual allegory of 4 women. Trailblazing, indeed!
In 2009, Adrianna partnered with wine “wunderkind” Alejandro Vigil (of Catena Zapata) to craft experimental Cabernet Franc-based wines.
They combined their names, Alejandro and Adrianna, for the joint venture, Bodega Aleanna.
Sharing their love of history and romance through wine excites them.With El Enemigo (“The Enemy), they interpret the desire of Old World winemakers to make great wine in their New World home.
The Enemy represents the internal battles people face, the war we fight within ourselves.
- Educated at Cambridge and INSEAD, consultant at Booz Allen, marketing expert
- Innovator, welcoming host, saleswoman extraordinaire, philanthropist
If that wasn’t enough, she was born in Beirut, speaks three languages, and has three children.
Sophia’s father owned a vineyard in the Douro Valley, Portugal, since 1906. Leveraging her education and skill, she created the Quinta de la Rosa company with her father in 1988. Before this, they did not make their own wine but sold the grapes to other producers.
In 1990, the company was one of the first to introduce red wine, continuing the tradition of innovation.
Honoring her grandmother Claire’s hospitality, the company also focuses on events for visitors.
Committed to women in wine, she brings them in from supply chain to tourism.
- Designer, agriculturalist, R&D wizard, head winemaker
- Master grape taster, joyful challenger, experimentalist, enthusiast
Born in Mendoza, Zuccardi Wines brought Laura into its R&D program in 2009. She is now the top winemaker.
She believes each vineyard site expresses something unique through the magic of terroir, the combination of soil, water, climate, sun, and aspect. She desires her wines to express these qualities.
For example, Mendoza will make great white wines, but only in the right vineyard sites.
Experimenting with different methods in the winery, she finally adopted concrete vats to replace stainless steel.
Laura is an enthusiastic member of Argentina’s 5-year-old El Club de Mujeres Profesionales del Vino (Professional Women’s Wine Club.)This group of 110 female winemakers and growers support each other and share knowledge.
To Laura, wine represents people, places, culture, and special moments. Her husband, Mauricio Ocvirk, is a winemaker at Santa Julia winery. They have a young daughter.
While not a winemaker, Zuccardi’s commitment to women in wine continues with Julia Zuccardi.
- English prof, businesswoman, innovator, queen of experiences
- Compassionate employer, humble team player, traveler
The organic winery, Santa Julia, carries her name. Her father created the company, and her brother made the wine, but Julia followed her passion for connecting with people.
She manages tourism and hospitality for both the Santa Julia and Zuccardi wineries, curating down-to-earth and fun restaurant and outdoor experiences for guests.
Her belief in compassion led to daycare services for their employees’ families. Her belief in sustainability led to the launch of wine in cans. The “creativity” team introduced the package to promote portability, fun, connection, and recycling.
In her downtime, she chills out with her kids.
- Long Beach born, UC Davis wine pedigree, traveling cellar rat
- Proponent of science and art, leader, top-notch collaborator
Brittany traveled throughout Europe, Oregon, and Australia, earning her winemaking chops. She gained in-depth knowledge and a worldly outlook.
Joining Heitz Cellars in 2013, she became the company’s 3rd winemaker, and it became her professional home.
She works alongside the winery’s team members to deliver quality at each step. The wines reflect her appreciation of the winery’s history.
Patience is her most prized characteristic, and it shows in the wine. She and David Heitz, her mentor, produced the 100-point 2014 Martha's Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
Living in Napa allows her to spend her days off outside with her husband, Tom.
- Pristine wine lineage, pioneer, curious of mind, scientific
- Authentic winemaker, hard-worker, mentor
Caroline seems a natural chef de cave at Champagne Ayala, established in 1860 in Ay and now owned by Bollinger. She took over following a 25-year tenure by Nicolas Klym.
She was born in Reims to an enologist father whose father was a wine grape grower. Champagne was in her blood and her nose. Perhaps she should launch a perfume with the scent of crushed champagne grapes.
In her studies in 1987, she saw few women in the class or in business, though women have made their mark on Champagne.
She started her career at Bollinger and was working there when they purchased Ayala. She took the top spot in 2011.
Caroline promotes a more open-minded view of the champagne business and for women as winemakers.
For more on women Champagne makers, check out Les Fa’Bulleuses.
Women in Wine Bonus
Big Hammer Wines Celebrates Women in Wine
Big Hammer Wines encourages you to celebrate women winemakers, winery and vineyard owners, and winery workers. Drink Female!
You don’t have to spend big bucks to enjoy great wine. Our deep connections in the wine profession help us find the best wines at the best values.