Women make great wine. In fact, since the 1980s some of the greatest wines we’ve ever had have come from estates led by women. Today, there are a handful of women leading some of the most iconic names as well as those who have started their own projects in both well-known as well as more obscure parts of the world. Consider this a love letter to the past, present, and hopefully more to come from women in wine.
Top "House Wines," right now made by women:
Natural wine made by women:
Lalou Bize-Leroy owns the wineries Domaine d'Auvenay, Domaine Leroy, as well as the label Maison Leroy in Burgundy. That’s like owning Rolex, Patek, and Swatch. At one point she was even a co-manager of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC). Along with Aubert de Villaine, Lalou helped build DRC's reputation to be one of the most sought after wines in the world. After leaving DRC in 1992, she began to focus solely on her own wineries. Today, they’re some of the hardest to find and collectible wines. Domaine Leroy is known for making an elegant and very perfumed style of Burgundy from grand cru and premier cru vineyards. These wines are marked with a red cap to distinguish them from the larger volume Maison Leroy wines. Domaine d’Auvenay’s acclaim is largely with White Burgundy in and around Meursault and Puligny Montrachet. The Maison wines do not get the same attention and care as the others do… they are the Swatch in the line up of Rolex and Patek.
Vintage and Wine Highlights:
- Domaine Leroy is considered to have made the greatest 1991 Red Burgundies. The grand cru vineyards of Musigny and Richebourg from the vintage are often on the short list of the great wines of the decade.
- Domaine d’Auvenay’s Chevalier Montrachet is one of the most expensive wines in the world. It’s hard to say there’s value in wines at this price but when only 500 bottles are made a year, they’re worth it.
López de Heredia is the greatest producer of Rioja. They’ve been doing it forever, too. Nowadays, the 4th generation are women winemakers Maria José Lopez de Heredia and her sister Mercedes who run the family business. The grape blend doesn’t matter to be honest though, it’s not a recipe as much as just the natural blend of what’s planted in the single vineyards. The vineyards are where the differences in flavor lie. They make a nutty white, reds that can be cellared for decades, and a rosé or rosado which is one of the most distinct wines in the world.
The single vineyards:
Tondonia vineyard is the wine we believe is the most typical Rioja. It’s smoky, earthy, and full bodied. It’s aged for up to 12 years before being released. There are four bottlings: red Reserva made every year, red Gran Reserva only in the best years, a white and a Rosado or rosé.
Bosconia is what they call the most Burgundian. The wine is lighter and more floral than the Tondonia, so they say it has pinot noir characteristics. It’s red only.
Gravonia is the white wine. It’s aged for around 10 years as well. The flavors are intense. It tastes like brown butter, orange rind, and it’s even a bit a smoky. White Rioja is made from the grape viura.
Lopez Tondonia 1981
Domaine Tempier is found in Bandol, a region in the south of France. The owner, Lulu, passed away recently and is remembered as a legend of Provence much like Sinatra is to New Jersey. It’s said that her lifestyle influenced some of the great restaurants here like Chez Panisse. It's smart, timeless, and incredibly elegant. These days it’s the rosé we drink most. It’s the archetype of the dry, French style and you’ll see Bandol on the label. They make a small amount of white wine or Bandol blanc in a style that is similar to the Rhone valley– they are rich and oily. Their singly vineyard reds have come to be collected and are worthy of aging well over thirty years. The main grape being the big and earthy grape mourvèdre.
Cuvée La Migoua, Cuvée Cabassaou, and Cuvée La Tourtine are all similar, but with subtle differences attributed to the soils of the vineyards and the proportions of the red blend. All are from old vines and capable of aging for decades.
Arianna Occhipinti grew up in Sicily and, like most Italians, became a wine consumer at a young age. Her uncle Giusto is a big-deal winemaker at Sicily’s COS Winery. After working and traveling with him, she branched off to start her own label with the family’s name Occhipinti. This was around 2008 and the world was looking for inexpensive, delicious, and just new wines. She introduced many consumers to the grape frappato, which was usually blended into the wines labeled Cerasuolo di Vittoria and rarely seen on its own. Frappato is a floral, smoky, and light-on-its-feet type of grape. Thanks to her, the wine-drinking world along with Stanley Tucci came to realize that Sicily was a place for light and high quality wines.
Elisabetta Foradori is very much the Patti Smith of northern Italy. She is exceptionally talented, understated, and has been idolized by young people of several generations. Her winery is in the middle of nowhere– Trentino Alto Adige, Italy. It’s the central and northern part that lacks most tourism but doesn’t lack huge mountains and high quality wines. She’s considered a natural winemaker in many circles. In particular her winery in Tuscany called Ampelaia is an experimental and wild wine with many different grapes and styles made.
Diana Snowden Seysses