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Celebrating Women In Wine

Women in Wine

Over the last few years I have had the pleasure of meeting many dynamic women in the wine industry from around the world. These women hold positions that range from winemakers and winery owners to operations management, business development, marketing and financial planning. They are a rarity in an industry that has been notoriously dominated by men. Happily, the landscape is changing and more women globally are rising to the occasion and making their presence known in the wine world.

I was recently invited by Bethany Burke of Taub Family Selections to join a panel discussion and virtual tasting on Zoom, focusing on “The Next Generation of Women In Wine”. Dr. Laura Catena of Bodegas Catena Zapata & Bodegas CARO in Mendoza, Argentina moderated this lively discussion.  She was joined by panelists Anne Trimbach, of Trimbach in Alsace, France, Laure Colombo, of Vins Jean-Luc Colombo in Cornas, Rhone Valley, France and Alessia Collauto Travaglini of Travaglini in Gattinara, Piemonte, Italy. These accomplished and talented women were all born into multi-generation family-owned wineries, but their backgrounds and the paths they took before joining the family business are diverse. However, they all share the experience “as women” of assuming an important position and role in their family wineries. 

Here is an introduction to these amazing women. Also, each panelist selected a wine representative of her family’s estate for us to taste.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Dr. Laura Catena - Proprietor, Bodegas CARO
Mendoza, Argentina

Photo credit: Bodegas CARO

Laura is a fourth-generation Argentine vintner, born in Mendoza, Argentina. Her great-grandfather founded the Catena Winery in 1902 after emigrating from Italy. In addition to being the proprietor of Bodegas CARO, Laura is currently managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata. Her path to becoming a vintner in her family’s winery was quite circuitous. Laura graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1988 and then earned a medical degree from Stanford University. It wasn’t until 1995 that she joined her father, Nicolas Catena Zapata, in the winery as a winemaker. In addition to authoring two books, Laura splits her time between Mendoza and San Francisco where she practices Emergency Medicine. One of Laura’s many passions is to learn more about high altitude viticulture, the vineyard soil microbiome and wine ageability.

In the struggle for female equality in the wine business, Laura said, “There is no male equality either.” As she has witnessed in her winery, “If a man says he needs to go home because his child is ill or he has to make dinner, the boss will respond with ‘Where’s your wife?’ If a woman asks the same thing, it is accepted. There is such a long road still ahead for both women and men. But we are coming from a place of progress and I’m very excited about the future.”

Bodegas CARO, CARO 2017
​To learn about the collaboration between the Catena family and Domaines Barons de Rothschild that birthed CARO, please read my previous story, Two Cultures + Two Estates = Elegant Wines 

This wine is a blend of 74% Malbec and 26% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Malbec softens the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a little bitter. Grapes are selected and hand-harvested from the best blocks of the high altitude vineyards of Mendoza. The wine is aged for 18 months in French oak barrels from Lafite’s cooperage.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Aromas of rich red fruit, berries, baking spice and violet segue onto the palate with dark cherry, black raspberry and a hint of dark chocolate on a long finish. Smooth tannins and refreshing acidity are beautifully balanced.
Alcohol:  14%
SRP:  $70.99

Anne Trimbach, Export Manager for Trimbach
Alsace, France

Photo credit: Trimbach

Anne is the 13th generation and the first woman to “be on the scene” in her family’s winery situated in Alsace, France. Anne grew up in the winery and knew from an early age that she would work there.  Her great uncle expressed doubts about her getting into the business. He said, “Oh really, you want to work with us? But you are a woman and how will you manage this? One day you’ll want to have babies.” Anne expressed in relating this story, “I had to prove I was able to.” Her journey involved studying economics in Strasbourg, then spending three years in Dijon. She completed her master’s degree in Burgundy and then interned with a beverage distributor. Anne moved back to Alsace in 2008 and began to formally work as a export manager and Trimbach ambassador. Anne also introduced and developed a presence on social media for the winery. She said, “The world of wine is about sharing and catching the eye of people. We share our passion for wine and people through videos.”

Trimbach “Réserve” Riesling 2017
This is 100% Riesling. Grapes for the Réserve are sourced from old vineyards in Ribeauvillé and surrounding villages with vines 45 to 50 years old. Due to the complexity of the terroir here, some of the finest wines are produced. Anne noted that because of climate change “we are seeing early harvests due to temperatures rising.”

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Beautiful aromas of floral, peach, grapefruit and a hint of diesel set the stage for this classic, dry Riesling. The palate offers nectarine, green apple, lemon and minerality. This is a vibrant and fresh wine with good aging potential.
Alcohol:  13%
SRP:  34.99

Laure Colombo, Winemaker at Jean-Luc Colombo
Rhône Valley, France

Photo credit: Jean-Luc Colombo

Laure is second-generation and grew up in the small village of Cornas where the vineyards were her playground. Laure said, “I escaped the village and didn’t plan to work in wine, I just wanted to live in big cities. I was anxious to leave and travel.” And so she did. After studying commerce at the University of Lille, she traveled to Florida and worked at Disney World Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Laure also worked as a sommelier's assistant at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in NYC and traveled to New Delhi, India to work with the Grover vineyard. And the list goes on! When she returned to France, Laure interned at Château Haut-Brion while studying for a bachelor’s degree in Viticulture and Oenology in Bordeaux. She then went on to receive her master’s degree in Oenology from the University of Montpellier. Laure said, “By traveling around the world, I learned my roots and I wanted to come back. I finally joined my family in 2010 and little by little I learned to work with the family.” She has been working alongside her parents ever since. For a glimpse and background of Laure’s parents and where she grew up, please click on the link below to read my story, A Hidden Treasure - The WineKnitter 

Jean-Luc Colombo Saint-Peray AOC “La BelleDe Mai” 2018
This wine is a blend of 60% Roussanne and 40% Marsanne. Grapes are hand-harvested from a single vineyard of the oldest part of this small 10-hectare appellation. Laure said, “The grapes are co-planted, harvested and vinified together. The ratio changes from year to year, but normally one half to two-thirds of the Roussane is used in the blend.” Grapes are fermented in oak barrels and the wine is aged on the lees for six months.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

This is a rich and complex wine with enticing aromas of floral, pear and grapefruit. The palate offers honeysuckle, apricot, peach, a hint of vanilla and citrus zest on the finish. Creamy texture and fresh acidity sate the palate.
Alcohol:  14.5%
SRP:  $29.99

​Alessia Collauto, Travaglini
Gattinara, Italy

From left to right: Massimo, Carolina, Alessia and Cinzia. Photo credit: Travaglini

Alessia is the fifth-generation of the Travaglini wine family. “Fourth-generation, Cinzia Travaglini, now runs the estate, along with her husband Massimo Collauto, chief winemaker. Their efforts, like the generations before them, have made Travaglini one of Italy’s most recognizable wines and the #1 selling Gattinara in the world. Their children, Alessia and Carolina, are currently involved in the winery, and will be the next generation to run the estate.” Alessia has a degree in Economics and Business Management. She also received her Certificate of Sommelier in 2017. She spends time tending the vines at Travaglini, working in the cellar with her family and also participates in the administration, marketing, sales and promotion of their wines. Alessia stated, “My parents introduced me to the secrets of the vines and situations of everyday business and little by little transferred to my sister and me the passion for wine.” Alessia said that the experience of being a sommelier made her curious not only to open her mind and try the wines but she also said, “Most importantly it made me curious about the vinification of the wine and the stories behind the wine.”

Travaglini Gattinara DOCG 2016
This wine is 100% Nebbiolo and is Travaglini’s flagship wine. The small appellation of Gattinara DOCG is known for its rare soil that produces grapes with a unique flavor profile, high acidity and tannins. Alessia said, “The complexity of this wine comes basically from the rocks. Although the wine is complex, it tastes very delicate on the palate.” The wine is aged for three years, two of which age in used Slavonian oak casks. The wine rests for three months in bottle.

Photo credit: Penny Weiss

Lovely aromas of rose petals, berries, fennel, baking spice and pepper prep the palate for a rich and inviting wine. Notes of rose, cherries, raspberry, cinnamon, earth and minerality tease the palate. I love the complexity of this wine in addition to its freshness and tannins that talk.
Alcohol:  13.5%
SRP:  $33.99

It was a pleasure and honor to be a part of this discussion and tasting. I loved their stories, anecdotes and, above all, the inspiration and path that they are creating for more women to enter the wine industry!

Until next time…



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