by Ben Williams
I’ve spent 20 years in the wine industry at this point, in virtually every aspect of the sales side: restaurants, distributors, marketing, and retail. Here’s what ‘ve learned: the women in our industry kick ass. From winemakers to sommeliers, critics to marketers there is a tidal wave of talent from the women in our industry that should be appreciated and celebrated on a daily basis.
So, what names come to mind when I think of the female powerhouses in the wine world? Of course you have the juggernauts like Lalou Bize-Leroy (DRC, Leroy, d’Auvenay), Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (Mouton, Opus, Almaviva) and Jancis Robinson (MW, and inarguably one of the greatest wine palates to ever indulge in the sweet nectar). But there are also a bevy of women you may not know behind brands and companies like Helen Turley (Turley Vineyards), Lia Tolaini Banville (Tolaini Winery, Banville Wine Merchants), Heidi Barrett (Screaming Eagle, Grace Family, La Sirena), and Annette Alvarez-Peters (who manages $1B in sales a year at Costco). All of these women play an integral role in getting some of the best wines in the world in front of us, the consumer. We owe them a lot….
Two wines I’ve been lucky enough to taste recently were both made under the watchful eye of women: the 2018 Hermitage La Chapelle from Paul Jaboulet Aîné (Caroline Frey) and 2017 Clos Erasmus “Laurel” Priorat (Daphne Glorian). Easily two of the best pound-for-pound wines I’ve had the fortune of sampling, and prime examples of how important and influential women in the business are. Without their strong presence our palates would all suffer immensely, so be thankful and proud and supportive of their continued work. I know I will be, my taste buds would suffer without their efforts.