Women and wine. Wine and women. Sounds good together, don’t ya think? Women and wine have gone together for centuries, and they’ll continue to do so. Women’s History Month is the perfect time for us to celebrate the many women who have come before us in this illustrious field, as well as to boost and encourage all those women currently grinding away in the wine industry.
--Madame Clicquot (1777-1866)
One of the most recognized champagne houses of all time, the Clicquot brand is what it is today because of Madame Clicquot, also known as Barbe-Nicole. Fantastic, ambitious, and bold, Clicquot transformed a small-production, little-known vineyard into an icon of tremendous strength. Clicquot’s work in the wine industry began after her husband, François, died unexpectedly. Clicquot, as a 27-year-old widow, had few rights in the eyes of the French government, like most women. But she had access to this small champagne house, and she had the vision that would make it blossom into something incredible. Through her increased exportation of her wines, her creativity and knowledge in the champagne-making process, and her boldness in decisions about the Clicquot champagne house, Madame Clicquot developed a brand that has lasted for over 200 years, and will surely continue for another 200. Raise a glass to this champion of a woman, who overcame society’s obstacles in order to place that stunning flute of precious bubbles in your hand. À votre santé, Madame!
Jumping forward a few hundred years, we meet Merry Edwards—a true visionary in the world of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, particularly in the Russian River Valley of Northern California. In a small town in Sonoma County, nestled amongst flowing hillsides of bright green vines, lies an unassuming building filled with great treasures. This is Merry Edwards winery. Edwards began her wine journey at the University of California, Davis, which boasts one of the premier enology programs in the country. But when she had graduated, the reality of the 1970s hit, and she was often passed over for winemaker positions in favor of men. Undeterred, Edwards began her winemaking career at Mount Eden Vineyards, then moved to Matanzas Creek Winery, and eventually opened her very own winery. Though her journey into worldwide recognition has not been perfect, nor always successful, Edwards’ passion for the land, the fruit, the climate, and the experience of Sonoma County has allowed her to pave the way for more and more female winemakers to succeed.
As much as we love drinking wine, we also love learning about wine, the science behind it, and the people who master all of its complexities. Madeline Triffon felt this acutely as she began her journey to become America’s first female Master Sommelier. She came into the wine industry almost by accident--a well-timed French accent brought her into Detroit’s restaurant world, and soon enough, she found herself studying for the intimidating Master Sommelier Exam. Through blind tastings, self-teaching, and wine and food pairings, Triffon’s wine knowledge exploded, and she passed the Exam on her first attempt--a rare feat. Triffon, though a complete expert on the ins and outs of wine, is adept at relating to her audience, and using language that will draw her guests in, rather than push them out of the seemingly-exclusive wine world. Since 1987, when Triffon became the first female Master Sommelier in the States, more than 20 women have joined her. Way to trailblaze, Triffon!
If you know a woman, she probably wants some wine right now. And if you want to make a woman happy this Women’s History Month, first, read up on some great women in the wine industry, and second, go buy her some Just Enough Wines. You’ll have learned something new, she’ll have great wine, and all will be well!