Women have always been involved in the world of wine. If you look back more than a century or two, their involvement may have not been traditional or even on purpose but women were and still are pivotal to the winemaking world. To write this tasting blog I have to be honest: I never thought specifically about women in the wine world. Before anyone gets upset it wasn’t a decision I made purposefully. Being caught up in a world that has many merits on knowledge, sometimes it can feel unrealistic without years for practice and a network of other like-minded people. Saying all that I am now jumping with joy that I was given this tasting because the history of women in wine are remarkable and many stories need to be told. The tasting not only focused on women winemakers but also vineyard owners, generational turmoil and historic serendipity. Let’s dive in and see the fascinating stories of six inspiring women within the current global wine industry.
Teresa started her journey into the wine world as most of us do, with a different but somewhat correlated major in university. After completing her Bachelor of Applied Science in Chemistry and Microbiology with a focus on food and wine chemistry, Teresa wanted to dive further into the wine side. Transitioning from microbiologist to winemaker was inevitable, through her previous years of love for wine she could now but two passions together, winemaking. Teresa started her challenge of becoming the Dunes & Greene Sparkling and Chardonnay winemaker. To this day Teresa still works with these varieties due to the love for attention and detail these types of wine require.
Sybille Kuntz Orange Riesling 2018 $49.99
Sybille’s story is one of perseverance and vision, especially in a region with deep roots of history and tradition the Mosel region near Bernkastel. Sybille is the sixth generation winemaker who initially inherited a half-acre fro her father. Soon after she bought out her brother’s of their land and started breaking all the “rules of norm” in the Mosel. Currently, Sybille and her husband own 10 hectares of prime vineyard sections. Being a female winemaker in Germany, Sybille is no stranger to hardship and conflict. As a winemaker, Sybille refused to play by the rules of the regions wine norm and or wine rules in order to redefine the box. One of Sybille’s main insight is that with her pushing the boundaries of winemaking in the Mosel it will inspire others to make better wines. However, most importantly to show other estates whom only have daughters that “perhaps they’ll be less resistant to pass her the family vines.”
Sybille Kuntz’s Orange Riesling “The grapes are harvested without botrytis berries with sugar readings of 85° – 95° Oechsle (density of grape must) in the second week of October. We crush and de-stem them into an open vat. Here they skin ferment and macerate for 6 weeks. After pressing we age the orange wine in old 1000 l Fuder barrels for another 6 months. Then we bottle with no prior filtration and no sulphur addition at any stage of the process.” Winemaker’s Notes
Else Muscat $37.99
Kelsey Rufiange is the winemaker at Echo Bay and strives to make wines with minimal intervention. The native yeasts are left to spontaneously ferment on the grapes. Wine created by healthy grapes from the vineyard helps encourage clean and trouble-free fermentation. With yeasts playing a significant role in aromas and flavours, Kelsey believes that indigenous ferments are a way to create a truly authentic wine of place. The gran-daughter of Al and Nella Kenyon, Kelsey who was born in 1988 and is the winemaker at EchoBay winery in Okanagan falls B.C. Kelsey has two degrees under her belt. Firstly geography degree from McGill and a consumer’s interest in wine. Secondly, Kelsey took the viticulture course and went to Lincoln University in New Zealand for a postgraduate degree in enology. Following all her studying Kelsey continued her skills by making wine in New Zealand, Australia and California before taking over the cellar at Echo Bay.
Else Muscat “This wine is a medium orange in the glass. The nose is precocious with jangling aromas of nectarine, summer peach, seabuckthorn, lily, young ginger, and honeysuckle. It’s absolutely mesmerizing with superb grace and charm, like waltzing effortlessly through a field of spring flowers. The palate is dry with modest tannins, twinkling acidity, and a gentle texture. The finish exudes dried mango, candied acorn squash, apricot, and oolong tea. Sensational. This wine goes with so many things, I’m not even sure where to start! Indonesian Satay would be high on the list – peanuts, a little heat, smoke from the charcoal grill, all wonderfully reeled in by the crisp aromatic wine.
Cinelli Colombini Chianti Superior $33.99
Donnatella’s story is one of sadness, heartache, perseverance and personal power. Donnatella was the main family member to help her father with the winery duties. For example, she helped with; pruning, vine maintenance, harvest, the fermentation process and all-around winery cleanliness. You can imagine how much work that would be. Anyway, when her father decided to retire, he gave the winery to Donnatella brother whom did not participate as much in the family business. Donnatella’s mother did not see the reason in this decision, therefore, helped her daughter buy her own winery aka Cinelli Colombini.
The second part of Donnatella’s story happens when she requested the top wine students from a selection of schools. Due to having their own ideas about women in the wine, they all said nope, see ya later. Finally, after tirelessly trying to start her winery Donnatella changed her request to ‘give me your top female students”. Well, this was a different question. Soon she had hired and started Italy’s only female-run winery. To finish with a cherry on top, Donnatella ‘s wine still rank higher than those made by her brothers! Girl Power!!
Cinelli Colombini Chianti Superiore is intense, fine, floral, with a clear reference to violets. Harmonious, dry, tannins well balanced with the fruit. One year in barrel. A perfect Chianti Superiore. The word “superior” indicates a more careful selection of grapes and a higher quality of wine for this type of Chianti; it is produced from the grapes from older vineyards with low yields.
Foradori Teroldego $38.99
Elisabetta grew up surrounded by wine due to her father’s winery in Italy. In her 20th year sadly Elisabetta’s father passed away leaving the winery in her unprepared hands. Elisabetta finished her studies and returned to a somewhat winery in disarray. Having vines that grew the varietal Teroldego (which was almost non-existent), Elisabetta decided to make the grape her life’s work! Today she has not only saved her family’s winery but brought back a grape and made it an icon. The wine we sampled is the entry-level Foradori. They only get better and more complex from here! (guess what we have a few of them in the store). Foradori has also started her own line of eco-friendly and sustainable wines.
The Foradori Teroldego shows red berries, flowers and mint. Lifted aromas with amazing structure and saline backed minerality.
Though it wasn’t poured, I also quickly touched on the Unlitro Di Ampeleia, which we also stock at Kensington Wine Market. This wine also highlights Elisabetta Foradori is a force to reckoned with. Foradori is at the top of her game with her original winery, Foradori, in Trentino Alto-Adige. She continues to bring light to the need of respecting the environment and continues to do so with her side project, Ampeleia. Located in the coastal area of Maremma, in Tuscany, Foradori and her colleagues Giovani Podini and Thomas Widmann focus on the beauty of the terroir, whilst producing deliciously complex, yet easy-drinking wines. This Unlitro (one litre) is a one-litre bottle, and it still disappears far to fast once opened. A blend of Grenache, Alicante and Cinsault, the wine is vibrant and playful, with notes of fresh red berries, ocean breeze and a touch of minerality.
Bench 1775 Groove $23.99
Val started her wine journey before she even realized. Working with plant biochemistry and molecular genetics at the research centre in Summerland B.C, Val enjoyed going to vineyards and helping vintners realize if their vines had an infection or not. One thing Val realized was more often than not, the vines were not ill but poorly taken care of. Then after one marvellous glass of Riesling from the Alsace region, Val decided to do a career change and became a winemaker.
Bench 1775 Grooves shows a lush ripe blend of merlot, malbec and cabernet franc is a full-bodied red appropriate for the BBQ. Dark plum, blackberry and cassis are filtered through a smoked wood and spiced lens, one with bitter cherry pressed tannins to the powdery finish.
As always I’d like to thank Peasant Cheese for their delicious meat and cheese boards for the evening! They always figure out the perfect pair for our wine tastings. Most importantly, I’d like to thank every woman pushing the boundaries in the wine world. Women have always been involved in wine throughout history. With support and dialogue, women shall continue to break barriers.