Top 50 most powerful women in wine: 10-1


2 Jancis Roboinson MWAGE: 62
Indefatigable wine writer Jancis Robinson MW’s power in consumer markets around the world is as omnipotent as ever. Robinson exerts her influence via a weekly wine column in the Financial Times and her Purple Pages website, which boasts over 80,000 subscribers, while her tasting notes appear on Eric LeVine’s hugely successful wine review website,

With over 160,000 Twitter followers, Robinson further strengthened her online credentials last October by hiring blogger Alder Yarrow to report on the US wine scene. Her influence in Asia was cemented last year with a sell- out tasting at the WineFuture conference in Hong Kong.

While her Oxford Companion to Wine remains a definitive wine text, this October, Robinson released a 1,000-page tome, Wine Grapes, priced at £120, offering “a complete guide to grape varieties”, (1,368 to be exact), with the help of Julia Harding MW and DNA specialist Dr José Vouillamoz. A particular Riesling and Portuguese wine lover, Robinson recently picked up an award for her services to the Portuguese wine industry. “I think it’s high time we got rid of any idea that Portuguese wine has to be a niche product or an inexpensive product,” she said on collecting the award.

30 Responses to “Top 50 most powerful women in wine: 10-1”

  1. Matthew Rinkerman says:

    I always knew Debra was among the Great one’s.

  2. Marjolaine says:

    Well done Debra ! Keep up the great work in Hong Kong. You are truly inspiring !

    • Marjolaine, Thank you so much for your kinds words! Our office was walking on air for a few hours, but then the stack of unfinished work brought us back to terra firma with a resounding thud!

  3. Joe Banter says:

    Some serious misses and putting SOMs in as top 50 women in wine, really? There are giant gaps here, GIAGANTIC.

  4. Lucy Shaw says:

    Hi Joe, thanks for your comment. I’d be interested to know who you think we missed off. Best, Lucy

  5. Burgpoodle says:

    Rather disappointing to conclude that as far as DB is concerned, when it comes to wine, volume and $$$ come higher up the agenda than quality and authenticity : the proof being that the no. 1 and no.3 slots are awarded to exponents of the former, whereas those personalities in positions 2, 4, 5 … are more dedicated to the latter.

  6. Andre' says:

    I’m surprised you qualify “wine” products like gallo, redwood crek or barefoot … Gina Gallo should be ranked in the most powerful women ranking of the beverage industry, not wine business…

    • John Foley says:


      Saying Gina Gallo doesn’t belong on this list because of barefoot is like saying Robert Mondavi wasn’t powerful because of Woodbridge.

  7. Joe Banter says:

    Any of the ladies from Chappellet, Trefethen, or Ceja. Margrit Mondavi, Cathy Corison, and by Gina Gallo did you mean Jean Charles?

  8. Kurt Burris says:

    I was a year or two behind Ms. Gallo at U.C. Davis. She may be a good businessperson, but was not a popular classmate. A bit of an entitled attitude.

    • Marcy Roth says:

      I had the opposite experience with Gina Gallo. Ten years ago she was one of the first customers at Bacchus & Venus Wines in Sausalito. She was pleasant, curios and encouraging. Plus she dropped $500 on merchandise, which was much appreciated at my then-fledgling Small Business Administration-financed wine biz.

  9. Kim MacFarlane says:

    Congratulations Gina! An honor well deserved.

  10. Bill Price says:

    Way to go Gina! Well deserved!

  11. Wine for Normal People says:

    I do think Jancis deserves the top honor, but this list is a little muddled, as others have pointed out. There is a big line to be drawn between those who are industry movers and shakers and those who are in service to consumers. Each has a difficult job to do but one is a bit more laborious, IMO. The industry folks (Gina Gallo, Alvarez-Peters, etc) play a specific political game with defined rules and financial targets to get what they need. They reach many with their decisions, but are not direct influencers.

    The consumer-facing folks reach millions of real people to help them slug through the confusion that has been bourne from this convoluted industry. This is not easy work. What someone like Jancis Robinson has accomplished, by adding intelligence and humor to her writing AND by staying on top of trends like social media so she is relevant and can help more people understand wine better, is really difficult and quite remarkable. Her influence is farther reaching than an industry insider and her impact on regular people’s lives, buying decisions, and attitudes towards wine (in a good way), make her deserve the #1 slot, in my mind.

    I do appreciate this list and I commend Ms. Shaw for taking on such a beast. Maybe there can be a sub-categorization of industry v. consumer facing people?

    Great work (and thanks for removing the sexist pictures from the previous listing).

    Wine for Normal People podcast/blog

    • Diane Forsee says:

      There are many of us, giving up power suits and stiff-necked offices, to retire and do what we really want to do…make wine and educate our clientele on what we offer. We may never make a “list” however taking the question out of an experience and turning it to an exclamation point makes the day.

  12. Congrats Gina! You represent Sonoma County proud!

  13. Kevin Foster says:

    Well deserved Gina! You are a great representative for women in the wine industry and also for Sonoma County.

  14. Jim Elder says:

    Very nice job, Lucy. No matter the ranking, I think your list of the 50 most powerful women in wine demonstrated that we are fortunate to have so many dynamic and bright women associated with wine. I believe “power” is measured by the influence people have over others be it with words or money. I think your list included both. To think that because a person who is associated with lesser expensive wines either as a producer or buyer is not powerful in wine is sheer nonsense. I have spent my career selling the high end of wine. I am a wine geek, but wine is wine whether it comes in a crystal decanter or a box. Power is power.

  15. Jim says:

    Please perform a sobriety check on whoever edited this sentence:
    “Founded in 1933 by Ernest and Julio Gallo, Gina’s great uncle and grandfather, Gallo has grown to become the world’s largest privately bottles drunk in the US is a Gallo- owned wine.”
    ; )

  16. NMP says:

    CONGRATULATIONS to ALL the Women on this list. ALL of them have made, or are making, an impact in the wine industry, no doubt. However, to use the term ‘Most Powerful’, attach it to a single person, is a bit of a reach. There is no doubt the winemakers, buyers, owners, writers, critics on this list are all talented and dedicated individuals, but ‘it takes a village’ to do what they are doing (or have done). I think the better word to use for these talented individuals is ‘Influential’ or ‘formidable’. And I would give this same ‘schtick’ when you come out with your ‘Most Powerful Men’.
    I have historical, first hand, very intimate knowledge of your #1 ranked woman on here. She is talented, committed and dedicated to her craft, BUT she has a team of highly qualified winemakers surrounding her. And, I may be mistaken, but I think the Head/Chief winemaker in Sonoma is the 40yr veteran, the talented (learned under Julio Gallo), Marcello Monticelli. There is no doubt Gina is highly involved, but don’t kid yourself if you think it’s a one person show. Heck, you could argue that her cousin Stephanie Gallo is as ‘Influential’ and ‘formidable’ as she helps lead the Gallo marketing juggernaut. What I also find interesting is that 75% of the ‘way’ you write about her ‘accomplishments’ that make her ‘Most Powerful’, wouldn’t make a Top 1000 list. Your entire fist paragraph is about how many cases Gallo sells. Your second paragraph is about Moscato….Moscato has been around for what, over 75 yrs? Winemakers didn’t create this ‘Moscato madness’… consumers did (and marketers)…they listened to people saying they wanted sweeter (watch white zin will make a comeback… I’m just saying). If you’re hanging your hat on the 3rd paragraph on why Gina is ranked ‘Most Powerful’ woman, 75% of that paragraph is about her ‘union’ to her French husband. I hope you didn’t come to the conclusion of ranking Gina as #1 because of the ‘most powerful wine union’. If you did, you should move up Jancis Robinson or Alvarez-Peters, or Judy Leissner, etc.
    Again, congratulations to ALL the women, including Gina…..but at the end of the day, let’s all be clear of what you’re describing as ‘powerful’ here…and remember, it’s just a beverage!! (thanks to Costco).

  17. Shari and I add our congratulations to all on this impressive list!

  18. What an amazing group of women! Congrats to you all! I’m honored that I have been able to interview so many of you.


    Monique Soltani:)

  19. Ruth (Kramer) Fortsch says:

    Dear Debbie, We see you parents as often as we can and love them dearly. Vicki lives with husband Roger and two children in Oakland and Bruce and Bev are in Atlanta with four boys. I am sending this to them. We are so proud of you. Go, Girl, Go. Love,

  20. Tim Meiburg says:

    That’s my Sister out there!! Great job Deb.

  21. Where’s Barbara Banke?

  22. Congratulations on putting this impressive list together — a difficult task to do. What would also be interesting would be to highlight the amazing number of entrepreneurial women of wine that are following in the footsteps of these ladies listed here. I know of several who are leading the charge for their family wineries or for their own brands — not easy in this highly competitive environment. All women who make the wine business their career and passion are to be commended — it is often a true labor of love….

  23. Andrew says:

    Unfortunately, I’ve read too many articles from Jancis R. MW that were totally off base. She throws out ideas in her head that have no base in reality, problem is people read and believe what she says because of the MW title. I avoid her writing like the plague – it just pisses me off. So many wine people make it up as they go along.

  24. Congratulation DEBRA MEIBURG … Very Well Deserved!
    The All Domani Team is really proud of you and the All Italian community in Hong Kong is thanking you so much for all what you are doing for promoting [also] the Italian wine in Asia …

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