Women have taken on a central role in the world of oenology, adding considerably to the value of the Made In Italy brand. Here are some first hand accounts from women in wine who talk of their experiences in the industry and their relationship with it.

March 8th, International Women’s Day: Though many goals have been reached there are still many routes to explore. One of them leads to the traditionally male-dominated world of wine.

On the threshold of the third millennium we have seen women directly influencing the wine industry with their distinct point of view. Over the last few decades, they have become increasingly tuned to the sector, first as consumers but also as professionals–sommeliers, oenologists, journalists and wine producers.

The image of a woman in a restaurant choosing which wine to drink demonstrates a small emancipation and a step towards reaching the goals they deserve in the world of wine.

Perhaps because of generational change or changing lifestyles, women of the millennial generation in particular have developed a greater interest in wine and moreover, an awareness of what to look for.

Why and how does the W factor add value to the world of wine?

Wine is no longer just a status symbol. Moreover, women have become experts, appreciating high quality wine that reflects their values. For this reason they choose ethically made products, that have the consumer and the environment firmly in mind. It’s not surprising that they often seem to prefer wines made by women producers that embody these values.

Women are gaining recognition for the strength, personality and drive that has led them to embark on careers in the wine industry: note the growing number of wineries managed by women in Piedmont, in Italy and abroad.

“Creating innovation through respect for the environment”

This could be the slogan of many women winemakers, whose choices and methods are shaping both developments and the appreciation of wine with the Made in Italy brand.

These entrepreneurs all have something in common: a bond to the earth and a commitment to their enterprise. Sustainability is intrinsic to these characteristics and results in the adoption of a green philosophy.
These methods and choices are underwritten by a strong sense of respect that motivates these winemakers to aim for low environmental impact–to make sustainable and ecological choices that respect nature and the well being of the consumer.

This sensitivity is one of the best attributes of women.
This same sensitivity is also the beating heart of a particular woman in wine, Sara Vezza, who manages the Josetta Saffirio Estate. She speaks of wine as a social responsibility, shown through her respect for the earth, her effort to recycle and her participation in numerous projects for environmental protection.

Sara and other women producers are at the vanguard of a cultural sea change that is transforming winemaking enterprises. It is bringing change and innovation to production methods and company philosophy and embraces the exact values that consumers of the new millennium are looking for.

The following graph shows the most important factors for wine professionals in their efforts to advance wine culture.

 

(Source “Vent’anni di Vino Italiano Femminile: un valore per il futuro”)

Wine is becoming a tangible emotional experience

Women in wine know how to manage production at the same time as introducing innovation and competition in a sympathetic way, allowing them to elicit an emotional response to wine in the end consumer.

It’s enough to note that the majority of estates managed by women produce quality wines (a large percentage are DOC and DOCG) and respect the environment. Moreover, they pay attention to the end consumer, who also participates in many activities such as winery visits, initiatives and events that let them truly experience the world of wine for themselves.

Wine is an experience that women feel deeply; they have applied their particular wisdom and knowledge to give us a unique tour of this universe and envelop us in the feelings, perfumes and ideas it affords.

Wineries run by women set an example for everyone in the world of wine.

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Three wine professionals tell their story

We asked a few questions to three women who work in the industry, among them producer Sara Vezza, an officially-recognised Donna di Vino (Woman in Wine) by the National Women in Wine Association, Roberta Lanero, a teacher and sommelier and Erika Mantovan, a journalist and sommelier.

Sara Vezza

As a producer what is the W factor you relate to the most–the impetus for the choices you make every day in your winery?
At heart I’m a bit of a tomboy: maybe an unusual claim to make!
But I’m the estate’s only woman–my whole team is male.
I think that there are chords that only a woman’s sensibility can strike and I’m very much in touch with this part of myself.”

What prompted you to become a winemaker?
“Mostly the example set by my mother. Since I was a child I dreamt of being like her, a mother, a beautiful, charismatic career woman, and then my feeling for this land and this sensation of attachment and belonging that run so deep.”

Did being a woman in this male-dominated world ever scare you? Did you ever find yourself in difficult situations because of this?
I wouldn’t say difficult situations, but generally I’m either loved or hated: it’s not easy dealing with a very determined woman!”

Why do you have a green philosophy? What values pushed you most to this choice?
“Mainly respect that comes from a profound attachment to the land: I feel a part of it–I’m deeply rooted in it.
I’m also the first person to go out in the vineyards and drink my own wine, so this respect is for myself too!”

Talking about respect for the environment, do you have other projects for the future?
“Together with other producers we are figuring out a way to upcycle local waste, for both social and environmental reasons; the idea is to transform paper, plastic and organic waste into something useful for our whole community. We’re working on it…”

How do you acquaint your customers with the experience of wine?
“About two and a half years ago we started Adopt a Row, a project to build loyalty and encourage our customers to keep coming back.
In just a few months the community of Adopters has grown and today we are a family of nearly 100 people.
I really enjoy talking about the more technical aspects of my work, tasting wine together with them and explaining in detail how various projects motivate us!”

On the 8th of March what wine will you propose as a toast for all women?
“Champagne all the way!

Roberta Lanero

As a professional do you believe that there are wines that better express the terroir and appeal more to women?
“Every denomination wine expresses a terroir, especially if the label mentions a particular vineyard, estate or township etc.
As for which wine appeals more to women, I see two types of consumers. On one hand, we have “cultured” consumers who are indifferent to trends, adverts or the claims to higher quality made by famous brands; on the other hand, we have consumers who are drawn to the trendiest wine of the moment (for example Prosecco or “women and red wine”).”

Erika Mantovan

How did you get into the world of wine?
What a question! Wine gives me a fantastic, incredible feeling; already in high school I was interested in the world of wine–I loved to sip a glass as an aperitif and already had “In vino veritas” as my motto in the school yearbook.

 My passion really took hold a few years later. I was working in a hotel in Courmayeur. With all the questions tourists asked about the wine I was serving them, I felt compelled to increase my knowledge, and so ventured further into the field.

I was immediately struck by the vast amount there was to know and also how it was continually changing. I really related to that as a person. So I decided to enroll in a sommelier course. I travelled to France, to Champagne and Bordeaux and to Portugal, all of which were instrumental in my training. At the same time I started my own wine blog.

Marco Zamperini was the most important influence in my career; he’s a real communications genius. During an event organised by Carlo Vischi he told me to treasure my ideas and find the right people and occasions to put them into action!

He helped me understand the direction i wanted to take in this industry: I realised that I wanted to talk about wine and the feelings it can transmit.

Why did you choose to work in this industry?

I often think it was the industry that chose me; whenever I tried to leave the wine business, I ended up even more involved than before.
I graduated in economics, management and tourism in 2010 and wrote a paper on wine labelling and the multiplier effect that results from the use of the QR code.
After my degree I began working in a media centre where I learned a lot about communications in the wine industry.
I’m a bit of a free spirit so I decided to go freelance and work with wineries, tourist offices and so on; then in 2012 I began working with a wine importer/distributor–I still handle sales for them.

My training, experience and the opportunities I have every day let me grow and learn; the opportunity to exchange ideas with wine personalities, visit wineries or even just read a label are all a source of inspiration and knowledge.

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Give women the right opportunities and they are capable of everything. Oscar Wild