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According to WomenWineMakers.com, a 2011 study conducted by two professors at Santa Clara University found that only “9.8 percent of California's (3,400+) wineries have women as the main or lead winemakers,” and a mere 4 percent of women vintners also owning their wineries (as opposed to 47 percent for men). It looks like even the fermented grape industry is inflicted by gender disparities, too. These findings are interesting, considering that women are usually the gender most widely associated with wine drinking.
However, what’s more interesting about these findings is, despite the low representation of females in the winemaking industry, “23 of wineries with women lead winemakers were listed in Opus Vino compared to 14.1 percent of wineries with male lead winemakers,” according to the Santa Clara University study. This means that female vintners, although few and far between, produce more noteworthy wine than men, according to wine critics alike. But why is this?
Cathy Corison, a female winemaker who was named 2011 Winemaker of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, feels it has something to do with the passion that women have for wine making, as she told the Washington Post, “I think women winemakers had to be really determined and really passionate and still do.”
One organization that is looking to increase the numbers of women in winemaking is A Woman’s Palate, an organization that empowers women who are in the vintner business or who have an appreciation for wine to feel confident in their wine-making or wine-buying decisions. Susan Citron and Sharon Harris, who are well-versed in the fine food and wine industries, founded A Woman’s Palate to help bridge the gap between women and winemaking.
Citron, who started out giving wine tours in French and German for Robert Mondavi, according to NBC Philidelphia, explains that A Woman’s Palate also aims their efforts towards empowering women in business because, as she explains, “there was a sweet spot with executive women because they have a professional need to understand fine wines and feel comfortable ordering it.” With more women on the rise in leadership and high-ranking positions, the need for entertaining clients is also on the rise – and A Woman’s Palate aims to build that confidence in female business leaders.
Being a lady vintner has its definite benefits, too – access to some of the world’s greatest wines, an in-depth knowledge of all things wine, your workplace is a beautiful vineyard, and not to mention the pretty penny the wine industry offers. According to PayScale, a career in winemaking has an earning potential in the six figures – $104,377 to be exact. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the wine industry, WomenWineMakers.com offers a detailed list of what you need to know to get started on your vintner career path, here.
To find out who Oprah.com thinks are the top nine female vintners in the world, check out the list here.
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