I saw it coming shortly after I started covering wine events and writing about wine developments four years ago. At first it was a curiosity, then it was a realization that women were beginning to become the dominant force in the shape of wine events and wine sales. The latest numbers show anywhere between 57 percent and 60 percent of the wine buying choices are made by women.
Forget about the stereotype that women only like sweet or light wines and they are hanging around wine bars to giggle and get picked up. I have found that wine intelligence is not gender-bound. Many more women are becoming sommeliers, winemakers and owners of wine businesses.
Surprisingly, Italy’s most revered wineries, and considered one of the oldest and most traditional of wine countries, are handing control over to female members of these legendary vineyards. Antinori, the most famous of these families, now is operated by daughter Alessia who is scheduled to appear at the Four Seasons Aviara on Oct. 7. Angelo Gaja scaled the heights of winemaking in Barolo country. He now leaves the story to his young daughter Gaia. Then there is the Banfi wine empire in Montalcino, now in the capable hands of Cristina.
Mariani-May, who was quoted in a leading wine publication as saying “one strength of women is that they’re more prone to open conversation and building relationships; a bonding experience encouraged all the more by wine.”
Then there is Karen MacNeil, the author of Wine Bible, the first book about wine that ever made sense to me, who states that “women are more comfortable giving their opinion and giving a longer opinion about a wine than men. They are not keeping score or making it into a challenge.”
Terri Pebley Del Hamer was making a good living as a commercial property realtor some five years ago, when she called on an owner and winemaker in Temecula about listing his 13-acre property. She wound up purchasing what is now Keyways Vineyard and Winery. At first it was simply an investment but when the winemaker who was leasing the property left town, Terri had to desperately turn to her innate business wisdom to make a go of it. In 2006, she assembled management who happened to be women, and fashioned a winery that emphasized the celebration of women in wine. “I realized that no one was featuring a winery that catered to women and that to my knowledge, I was the only female winery owner in Southern California, she said. “I set out to make Keyways a comfortable place where customers could take their time, stretch out in easy chairs by a fireplace and feel at home. Then I branded a line of wine called Femina Vita, or the life of a woman. I contracted with a Napa Valley artist for relaxed female poses and marketed the wine under such names as: First Crush, Sweet Surrender, Spellbound and Contentment. We offer varietals from Chenin Blanc to the Rhone Blend in Contentment, which earned gold for the 2007 vintage at last year’s California State Fair.”
Keyways now has a wine club just for women called “Brix Chix” that drew more than 50 women to its first meeting recently. “They came wanting to know more about wine, get inspired, entertained and empowered,” Terri said. “We meet once a month and they pick up a bottle of the wine of their choice. A speaker program is in the works.”
As if we need any more proof of wine being in a woman’s world, the No. 1 wine in the world last year according to the leading trade magazine, Wine Spectator, was Casa Lapostolle Clos Apalta, a Chilean 2005 blend. It was made by Andrea Leon … a woman.
— Women and Wine are celebrated weekly at Friars Folly in San Marcos. Wednesday nights are “Girls Nights” with wine bottles half price, and Tami Ridley, the owner, has been known to create wild surprises with live entertainment. Call (760) 736-8035 for details.
— From Vine to Glass in Oceanside holds its Art and Wine night at 6 p.m. June 27. Entry fee is $10 including appetizers. Call (760) 757-1037 for details.
— Bacchus Wine Market in San Diego’s Gaslamp District has a high-end Premier Cru Burgundy event June 26 and June 27. Seven wines tasted for $35. Call (619) 236-0005 for details.
— Vintage Wines on Miramar Road in San Diego offers a Sauvignon Blanc tasting from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. June 27, from New Zealand to domestic. Cost is just $5. Call (858) 549-2112 for details.
— Escondido’s Holiday Wine Cellar has a Grenache event from 5:30 to 7 p.m. June 29. It’s a blind tasting, and also only $5. Call (760) 745-1200 for details.
— 3rd Corner in Encinitas brings an Austrian and Australia tasting in from 2 to 5 p.m. June 27. Fee is $10 for 10 wines. Add $15 more for a three-course lunch. For more information, call (760) 924-2104.
— Falkner Winery in Temecula celebrates its ninth anniversary with a weekend blast July 3 to July 5. Enjoy jazz music, tours and huge discounts. Their Pinnacle restaurant offers deep menu discounts. Call (951) 676-8231 for details.
Filed Under: Taste of Wine