Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Women Winemakers!

My best buddy SAM was kind enough to recognize me as "Media Celebrity" and invited me to a "Women Winemaker's" get together last month. I was "paid" in food and wine to do an amazing blog on it all. Though I do apologize as I'm a bit tardy in finally getting this blog done - but forgive me, I'm still recovering from that party!! :)

So the history behind all this is.....

Lucia Gilbert is a Professor of Psychology at Santa Clara University. She has always been fascinated by women who are making it (or trying to make it) in male dominated fields. She wanted to find out more about what makes women tick when they are working in a male dominated field and wanted to write a book on it all. She had been thinking about maybe studying women architecs or women engineers...but then a friend mentioned women winemakers. Lucia had never thought of that before and totally became fascinated by the subject. Thus Women Winemakers was born. (The site isn't quite ready yet but will be soon.)

SAM was hosting a get together at SAM's house with many women winemakers from the Paso Robles area - letting them have a chance to meet Lucia in person and find out more about what was going on with the project.

Now first off, there was fabulous food there from Farmstand 46 (that made the event totally worthwhile for me right there!) Then each of the winemakers brought a bottle of their wine to share - nothing like being able to taste a sampling of a bunch of wines from different wineries, all at once!

SAM sensed my excitement about the food and wine, and just like a dog guarding his food, here's a shot of me guarding the goodies:


In between snarfing down a bunch of food as I was starved, I had to check out the scene and see who was there. Here's a fabulous shot of three of the area's fabulous women winemakers (left to right): Shannon from Rangeland, Amanda from Niner, & Dorothy from Bodgeas.


So we're all chatting the afternoon away when Lucia starts trying to call us all together for a talk about the project. Goodness, I wouldn't have wanted to have her job! I guess us Paso Robles girls are pretty rowdy - but we all got there eventually.

So Lucia started to talk about the project (in between heckles by us girls) and mentioned how she wanted to study women in male dominated fields, and how women winemakers fascinated her most of all as she found it the most interesting (she's a big wine connoisseur.) Partly why she found this fascinating is that usually with winemakers, winemaking is a person's second, third or fourth career path - and though many folks are doing winemaking now, they may still move on to other fields.

So this is how Lucia envisions this project. She broke it down into four parts:

1) There will be a website - womenwinemakers.com - that will list all of the women winemakers in California. It will be broken up by region, so that when you're in a certain area, you can hunt down the women winemaker wineries.

2) When you click on a winery with a woman winemaker, it will then take you to a page that will give you a basic bio on the female winemaker as well as a photo of her - and maybe any relevant tidbits about the winery. 

3) There are about 3,000 winemakers in California and 10% of them are women - so this website will contain the bios of just over 300 women. From there, Lucia will conduct in depth interviews with about 75 women. These stories will be grouped into threes - totally different stories yet with commonalities on life experiences and career paths that have helped get the women to this point in their lives.

4) One day Lucia hopes to create a book, featuring the top stories of the 75 in depth interviews. She's thinking that she'd do two books - one for the Napa/Sonoma region and the other for "more Southern" wine country such as Paso. Think of it as "Wine Dogs" but for "Women Winemakers!"

Here's dear Lucia giving her talk (and Amanda getting her drink on):


Now at one point, Dorothy from Bodegas started talking about how hard it was a few years ago for women to make it in the wine industry. It really did take the first, strong, forceful women to break into the industry, to help carve a path for younger women who want to choose this as a career path. It was amazing to hear, yet Amy from Ranchero Cellars pipped in, "I apologize, but I don't want to burn my bras - they're expensive!" That was definitely the quote of the day :)

So things started to get rowdy amongst the crowd - that's the way Paso women winemakers roll!  Here's Shannon from Rangeland giving Amy from Ranchero Cellars rabbit ears:


And here's a gorgeous shot of Shannon & Amy with Lucia and Lucia's husband (and big supporter of the women winemaker's site) Jack:


Then it started to get dark, and we started to move inside. This is where things start to get hazy for me as thoughts of lemoncello start to dance in my head. All I know is that I got into a paparazzi war with SAM - here's she's taking a photo of me taking a photo of her:


And thus another crazy night with SAM begins :)

Next post - a lemoncello fantasy and the beginning of a new Women Winemaker's group - woo hoo!

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