Vinitaly 2018 to celebrate women in wine

Vinitaly will celebrate the achievements of women working in wine this year’s event with three international tastings that will showcase their achievements and their wines, from countries including the United States, France, Spain, Australia and China.

Cathy Huyghe

These three tastings, organised by Vinitaly International in collaboration with the Vinitaly International Academy (VIA), will take place at wine2digital in Veronafiere’s Palaexpo on Monday 16 April and Wednesday 18 April.

Although the number of women in the wine industry is growing and their responsibilities and skills are increasingly recognised, fair organisers noted that according to wine writer Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible, women in top positions in the wine industry are still few, with the gender pay gap still significant.

In addition to showcasing a wide array of wines, these three Vinitaly International tastings will also offer unique perspectives on women working in the wine industry from various international locations and in various capacities, with the intent to “fuel a wider debate and encourage a constructive exchange of ideas on the influence of women in the business”.

On Monday 16 April at 11am, Cathy Huyghe, CEO of Enolytics and author of Hungry for Wine: Seeing the World through the Lens of a Wine Glass, will kick off this international women in wine celebration with a tasting called “W3: Wine Women of the World”.

Huyghe will lead a seminar that will showcase wine produced exclusively by women winemakers, growers and winery owners from Spain, Austria, Australia, Germany, France, California, and Oregon, acknowledging the work of Lynn Penner-Ash, the very first woman hired as a winemaker in Oregon, and Xandra Falcó of the Spanish estate Dominio de Valdepusa in Castilla-La Mancha.

Gina Gallo

Huyghe will also hear from winemakers specialising in low-intervention wines from the collective WOW (Woman-owned Wineries) Sonoma Initiative in Califorinia, and many others.

“Preparing for this event has been one of the most illuminating experiences of my wine career,” she said.

“I thought I had a good understanding of women’s roles in the wine world but, through conversations and suggestions leading up to this tasting, I’ve learned so much more, both about the initiatives that are newly happening in response to the current global political climate, as well as the organisations and producers who have been women-led for generations. I am both humbled and excited by what’s to come.”

On the same day, at 1pm, Gina Gallo, senior director of winemaking at E&J Gallo Winery in California, will lead a tasting that will showcase three wines from three different terroirs in California. Gallo studied winemaking at the University of California in Davis and learned her trade at the family winery with her grandfather Julio.

“I have the extraordinary honor of representing my family’s namesake wines,” she said. “Our Gallo Signature Series wines express the terroir of our remarkable vineyards in three of California’s most important wine regions, the Napa Valley, the Russian River Valley and the Santa Lucia Highlands. We made these wines to represent three things: the journey of our family, where we are today and our legacy of aspiring to do more. This tasting provides an opportunity to share our family’s heritage and my interpretation of the terroir of our vineyards.”

The wines in this tasting are all part of Gallo’s own Signature Series, and include Russian River Chardonnay 2015; Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir 2014, Gallo Signature Series; and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014.

Emma Gao

From California to China, on Wednesday 18 April at 10.30 am, winemaker Emma Gao, of China’s Silver Heights will be showcased.

Located in the Ningxia region, Silver Heights has been owned and run by the Gao family for three generations and is considered the first boutique winery due to its focus on quality over quantity.

Emma Gao’s winemaking philosophy has been inspired by western techniques learned while studying oenology in Bordeaux’s Saint-Estèphe and working at the grand cru Château Calon-Ségur.

Of her training in France, she said: “When I first arrived in France, a friend opened a bottle of 1985 Faiveley Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru, one of Chateau Faiveley’s most complex, subtle, layered, and long-finishing wines. I was blown away. Until that moment I hadn’t understood the full potential of wine or tasted a wine that was the very pinnacle of winemaking and terroir.

“It definitely inspired me to pursue my oenology studies more rigorously.” Since the year of her first acclaimed vintage in 2007, Gao’s contribution to wine making shifted China’s mostly bulk-oriented wine production, with Silver Heights becoming the epitome of a refined and terroir-driven approach to wine making in the Ningxia region.”

For more information, click here. 


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