Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Rant, Report, and a Recommended Read: Women of the Vine

Anytime there is a book or an article that features a group of women, especially women in the wine industry, I am drawn to such. This must be due to I was raised by one of the first feminist in the 1950-60's, and that feminist was a man - - my dad. He believed that women, especially little girls, should learn how to bait a hook on their fishing pole, gut a fish, learn how to climb a tree, pump a tank of gas, and swing a hammer; and they could do all of this in a dress, if they wanted, and still look fabulous. He supported my mother to go back to college when my younger sister was three years old. In our house I grew up watching that cooking, house and lawn work was a partnership, to which my parental units often did together. Dad starched and ironed up our little pink gingham ruffled dresses better than mom. Dad also included my sisters and me when it came to learning how to ferment fruit at a young age - - thus our "science projects." 

The other reason why I am drawn to wine women articles and books, is that I appreciate women authors and writers whose focus is the wine industry. It is my opinion we don't see enough women wine writers being celebrated, and perhaps is the reason why we do see so many women take up wine blogging. We certainly don't see many articles in wine magazines, such as the Wine Spectator, written by women. But then again, I was once told the reason why there aren't many-to-zero women writing for the Wine Spectator is due to they haven't found any women writers who were qualified enough ... and I shall leave it at

that. Ahem. So, let's chat about the book, my original point before I got on my soap box - - 

The author of the book, "Women of the Vine: Inside the World of Women Who Make, Taste, and Enjoy Wine" is Deborah Brenner with a foreword by Gina Gallo.  It is an enjoyable read about twenty women in the wine industry who share their stories, wine tips, pairings, and their expertise. Many of the names I recognized from Dr. Ann Noble, Andrea Immer Robinson, Merry Edwards, Leslie Sbrocco, to name a few.  

Deborah Brenner is the founder and CEO of Women of the Vine Cellars, a wine company who unites and celebrates women winemakers under one brand. These wines are limited in production.  Like many women, and I can relate, after a painful divorce Deborah left the corporate life to pursue her passion and the life she wanted to live - - make wine. Deborah's weakness is potato chips. I can relate there again, as potato chips and bubbly makes for a perfect pairing - - okay, now where was I?  

Deborah Brenner, Author

A student of the vines could certainly get behind this book as it takes the reader through a journey of, not only the personal stories of women in the industry, but technical terms and the winemaking process - from vine to bottle. It shares information about the "Wine Aroma Wheel," an invention by Dr. Ann Noble. It gives a brief outline on how to prepare your own wine aroma tests from red to white to sparkling wines, and even defects in wine. Also, there is a Glossary of Wine Terms for the novice, or even the professional who needs a refresher course on wine terminology. 

Reading the personal stories of these women in the wine industry are rewarding, as we read not only about their successes, but they also share candid stories of their failures and the time honored dilemma of balancing their careers, parenting, and family. Many even give their own tips of their favorite food and wine pairings. It tickled me to read the beginning of each wine woman's story, as each chapter started with a quote - - and recently I authored a wine book of my own, each one of my chapters started with a quote, as well. Quotes leading a chapter have a way of setting the stage. Photographs of each woman of the vine were included. 

There was only one thing I was disappointed in - - but then again, maybe it is just me - - considering where I live and all - - where were the women of wine from Washington State and Oregon?  Back on my soap box - - the book didn't specify in the title, "Women of the California Vine." After all, Washington State ranks second in the United States in the production of wine, behind California. It's neighboring Oregon is also distinguished in the winemaking world. While the two states may not produce mass quantities like California, when it comes to overall quality, both Washington and Oregon are known for producing world class wines. While reading through the book I expected at least one or two women of the vine from Washington and/or Oregon. So I was left asking, "Where was Kay Simon, Marie-Eve Gilla, Holly Turner, Ashley Trout, Melissa Burr, Veronique Drouhin, and Lynn Penner-Ash?    

Okay, off my soap box - - overall, if you love wine and enjoy reading women biographies like I do, or even considering getting into the wine business, I recommend and can get behind this book. 

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