Women Winemakers Lead Quality Charge

Study highlights impact of women winemakers in 'Opus Vino' book


 A recent Santa Clara University study of "highly acclaimed" California wineries suggests that women winemakers, despite their minority in the field, are beating their male counterparts in the quality game.

The paper, "Evidence of Women Winemakers' Success in a Male Dominated Field," by Dr. Lucia Albino Gilbert and co-author Dr. John Carl Gilbert, used data from the 2010 book Opus Vino to argue their hypothesis that wines crafted at wineries with women winemakers are "more highly acclaimed proportional to their presence in the field than are those having male winemakers," according to a synopsis posted on womenwinemakers.com.

The research showed that of all the California wineries with women winemakers, 23 percent were listed in Opus Vino, compared to 14.1 percent of all wineries with male winemakers.

The paper also pointed out that different growing regions of California had significant variations in the proportion of wineries with women winemakers selected for inclusion in Opus Vino. In Mendocino/Lake Counties, 38.5 percent of wineries with women winemakers were included, but only 20.6 percent of those lead by men made the cut. In contrast, the Central Coast region highly favored wineries with male winemakers for inclusion.

A final pattern the study looked at was the combination of winemaker/owner and how gender impacted the percentage of those included in Opus Vino. The data showed that 14.2 percent of women owner/winemakers were included in Opus Vino but only 9.7 percent of men owner/winemakers were in the book.

According to womenwinemakers.com, this current study was a follow-up to earlier research that found that only  9.8 percent of California wineries are lead by women winemakers (despite the 15 to 20 percent previously assumed). The study "investigated winery acclaim as a possible explanation for the discrepancy between the perceived percentage of women winemakers and the actual figure," according to the article.   

In an interview with Wines and Vines, Lucia Albino Gilbert said, "I had heard that there were so many women winemakers and that women had shattered the glass ceiling." Gilbert's current research refutes the quantity argument for women winemakers but makes a strong case for them leading the quality charge and chipping away at that glass ceiling.

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Photo courtesy of ondrej.lipar via Flickr/cc


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  • Snooth User: Calamus
    1121277 305

    I really enjoyed this article and the links/infographics. If I can, I would like to make wine some day; most likely non-commercial, but the experience interests me.

    Jul 24, 2012 at 8:22 PM

  • Snooth User: Craig Donofrio
    Hand of Snooth
    1120324 14,420

    Thanks for your comments Calamus. Why not start making your own wine today? There are plenty of great home winemaking kits out there now and it's a fun way to learn the process! Cheers, CD

    Jul 26, 2012 at 1:32 PM

  • Snooth User: Calamus
    1121277 305

    Craig, I am interested in the whole aspect of soil, growing vines, and all that jazz. In fact, I am looking into courses today to see what is around. I made wine with my mom in a home kit. It was super fun and we made a few good batches. Maybe a home kit is a good way to whet the whistle. Thank you.

    Jul 26, 2012 at 4:17 PM

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