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Women in Wine

The month of March is not all about basketball. It's also Women’s History Month; 31 days out of the calendar year dedicated to honoring the contributions of women in American history. Starting in 1981 as Women's History Week, the celebration grew to the full month of March in 1987.

To kick off Women's History Month, we'd like to take a closer look at a few of the women of wine who are paving the way for others in the industry. These women who are listed below serve in a variety of roles in the wine world, proving that a woman really can do anything that she sets her mind to.

 

Vanessa Conlin, Head of Wine at Wine Access


Photo credit: Wine Access

Vanessa Conlin is a master of her craft and at the top of her field, serving as the Head of Wine for Wine Access, a leading online wine retailer. She has passed the closed-book theory and practical portions of the Master of Wine exam and is currently writing a research paper as the final stage. Once complete, Vanessa Conlin will join the elite circle of just 380 people in the world who hold the title Master of Wine. Throughout the course of her career, Vanessa has also served as the Director of Sales and Marketing for several of Napa Valley's most prestigious estates including Arietta Wines, Dana Estates, and Realm Cellars. Vanessa also holds the Diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and was the recipient of the Niki Singer Memorial Scholarship from the International Wine Center.

Recommended wine: Find a list of Vanessa’s favorites here.

Nicole Marchesi, Winemaker at Far Niente Winery


Photo credit: Far Niente Winery

A wife and mom of two, Nicole Marchesi balances motherhood along with her accomplished career as a winemaker for Far Niente. Nicole joined Far Niente in 2005 moving her way up from an enologist to an Assistant Winemaker before making her mark as the fourth Winemaker in Far Niente’s 30-year history. For other women interested in a career in wine, Nicole says to “Work hard; get your hands dirty; never stop thinking; be curious, and be kind.”

Recommended wine: 2018 Far Niente Napa Valley Chardonnay (SRP: $70)

Kate Solari Baker, Proprietor of Larkmead Vineyards


Photo credit: Larkmead Vineyards

Kate Solari Baker, the daughter of Larry and Polly Solari, grew up on the Larkmead estate, before taking over ownership from her parents alongside her husband Cam Baker. Since becoming co-proprietor Kate has helped transform the winery into a world-class estate. She assisted in the transition of the estate to organic farming, added several new wines to the portfolio, and dramatically expanded the winery to better reflect their vineyard. Kate has also worked on several projects with her own daughter, Ann Baker to improve the biodiversity of the land.

Recommended wine: 2016 Larkmead “Solari” Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP: $240)

Jen Walsh, Winemaker at La Crema

Photo credit: La Crema

Jen Walsh grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and developed a strong interest in wine while working in restaurants throughout high school and college. Before joining the La Crema team in 2017, Jen was the Associate Winemaker at Benovia Winery in the Russian River Valley, where she worked with myriad heritage Pinot Noir clones from different terroirs to craft distinctive single-vineyard wines. Prior to that, she worked for several other wineries throughout Napa and Sonoma. Her passion has always led her to wineries that focus on expressive, cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which brought her to La Crema, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2019. At La Crema, Jen focuses on crafting La Crema’s single-vineyard designate wines that express the nuances of the Sonoma Coast’s diverse terroir.

Recommended wine: 2017 La Crema Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (SRP: $40)

Sierra Zieter, Head Winemaker at Oak Farm Vineyards

Photo credit: Oak Farm Vineyards

Born and raised in the wine-growing region of Lodi, CA, Sierra attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and received her Bachelor of Science degree in wine and viticulture with a concentration in oenology. After stints at Daou and J. Lohr, Sierra returned home to take a job as an assistant winemaker at Oak Farm. Just last month, Sierra was promoted to Head Winemaker at Oak Farm Vineyards, overseeing all aspects of winemaking at the family-run Lodi winery that focuses on American, Bordeaux and Mediterranean varieties that thrive in Lodi’s unique terroir. As a young woman in the wine industry, Sierra strives to be a role model for other female winemakers in Lodi and beyond, as well as to elevate the Lodi wine region through quality winemaking.

Recommended wine: 2017 Oak Farm Barbera (SRP: $25)

Stacy Clark, Winemaker at Charles Krug

Photo credit: Charles Krug

Charles Krug winemaker Stacy Clark has been an integral part of the Charles Krug team since 2011. During her nearly 37 year career in the wine industry, in addition to Charles Krug, she has worked as winemaker for Galland Clark Wines and Pine Ridge Winery. She is a respected authority on Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties including Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, White Blends, and Rosés. Today, Stacy Clark is responsible for the ultimate expression of modern quality Napa Valley winemaking and maintaining the winery's past 75 years of top-class cabernet.

Recommended wine: 2015 Family Reserve Generations Red Wine (SRP: $70)

Rachel Martin, Co-Owner/Vintner at Oceano Wines

Photo credit: Oceano Wines

Rachel Martin is a leading force in promoting female leadership in the wine industry. Martin is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International New York and Washington, D.C chapters and was the first woman to be inducted into the District of Columbia chapter of the International Wine & Food Society. On top of these accolades, she is the co-owner and vintner of luxury wine label Oceano Wines, launched in 2016. A Virginia native, Martin helped to author a petition on behalf of the Middleburg region which was approved in 2012, making Middleburg, Virginia the state’s seventh AVA. Martin’s forward-thinking led directly to Middleburg having its own wine identity separate from the more generic Virginia designation, making her well suited to again start from scratch with Oceano Wines. Today, Rachel continues to advocate for female leadership and diversity in the industry while also working to expand Oceano’s portfolio of impressive wines hailing from California’s central coast.

Recommended wine: 2018 Oceano Pinot Noir (SRP: $45)

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