We’re Toasting: Women In Wine

Today is National Women’s Day which means it is the ideal day to celebrate all the talented female winemakers there are in the world today. Though the numbers are still small, they are growing, as is the support for women in the industry. So, today and everyday raise a glass to women. (Story originally published in West Hawaii Today March 5, 2019.)

As the first female winemaker of note in Oregon, Lynn Penner-Ash has led the way for women in wine throughout the state, particularly in Willamette Valley. She and her husband, Ron Penner-Ash, started their Penner-Ash Winery in 1998 with a focus on producing premium Pinot Noir from throughout Willamette Valley. Today, Lynn leads her all women winemaking team to create elegant, expressive wines, like Penner-Ash Viognier ($30) layering wisteria, honey, melon, and apple.

Wanting to create something with her daughters, Napa Valley royalty, Robin Lail, started Lail Vineyards in 1995 with the goal to produce wines highlighting the essence of Napa, with grace and an elegance of character that defines Robin’s life. Lail J. Daniel Cuvee ($275,) honoring her late father who produced some of the most noteworthy wines in Napa’s history for his then Inglenook Winery, delivers restrained Bordeaux-style that her father loved, with notes of licorice, dried tobacco, blackberry and spice.

In 1879 Yannis Boutari founded what would go on to become one of the most highly regarded wine groups in Greece, Boutari Wines. Today, Brand Ambassador Christina Boutari, great-granddaughter of Yannis, enthusiastically shares the wines and story of her family with eloquence and style throughout the world. Boutari Moschofilero ($21) is a highly aromatic white wine with orange and lemon blossom, white rose, and honeysuckle, with a lovely, lingering finish.

Moving to California to learn to surf, Wisconsin native and Winemaker for MacRostie Wines, Heidi Bridenhagen, fell in love with the California lifestyle, like being able to surf in the morning before heading to work. She also fell in love with the art of making wine from the most unexpected places, like rocky, rugged, slightly unkempt Sonoma Coast vineyards on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. MacRostie Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($34) displays bright red berry, red cherry, and pomegranate with touches of dusty earthiness.

Spottswoode Estate has been a leader in the wine industry of Napa Valley as premium growers, and winemakers, for over fourty years. This is thanks in part to the persistence, determination, and dedication of founder Mary Novak, and her daughter, President, and CEO Beth Novak Milliken. Structured and refined, Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc ($42) reveals a textured palate of wild herb, white flowers, mandarin, and cream.

A lifelong curiosity of learning has led Arrowood Winemaker, Kristina Shideler to follow her passions to produce varietal wines showcasing Sonoma. Arrowood Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($42,) from vineyards sitting on the edge of Napa Valley with a long growing season, delivers a bold, robust, rustic expression of the grape with black cherry, pencil shaving, leather, and chocolate.

Fifth generation winegrower and viticulturist for the Wente Family, Niki Wente shepherds her family’s vineyards into the future with a focus on sustainability and longevity. A lover of cool-climate Pinot Noir, she recently crafted her first rose with her cousin, Winemaker Karl Wente. Niki’s Pinot Noir Rose ($30) from Monterey County is fragrant and vibrant, melding strawberry, watermelon, and wild rose for a juicy, lively wine ideal for spring.