Wonder Women: 10 female California winemakers to watch

Jenny Wagner

10 Jenny WagnerThe youngest winemaker in our round up, at just 27, Jenny Wagner is already custodian of the Emmolo wine brand, which includes a mineral-driven Sauvignon Blanc and a rich, well balanced Merlot. She comes from strong winemaking stock – in 1972 her grandfather, Charlie Wagner, founded Caymus Vineyards, which is now looked after by her father Chuck, while her brothers Charlie and Joey are both vintners. She released her first two wines in 2014: 2012 Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc and 2011 Emmolo Merlot.

Growing up among the vines, Wagner wanted to become a winemaker from an early age, and treated her family estate like a playground.
Studying business administration and Spanish at the University of San Diego, Jenny started out working for Caymus after graduating in 2010.

Whilst there she learnt the tricks of the trade from her father. “My dad pushes the envelope when it comes to winemaking and has carved out the character of Caymus Cabernet by going beyond the norm and developing his own techniques in the vineyard. He encourages me to experiment,” she says.

In 2011 Wagner was put in charge of the Emmolo brand created in 1994 by her mother and named after her great grandfather, Salvatore Emmolo, who founded a rootstock nursery in Rutherford, where she sources her Sauvignon from. Her Merlot, meanwhile, hails from Oak Knoll. Looking ahead, she hopes to launch her own wine brand with her husband, Eddie.

9 Responses to “Wonder Women: 10 female California winemakers to watch”

  1. Very enjoyable and thorough article, but am surprised you missed Bibiana González Rave, winemaker for Wayfarer and the San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year.

  2. Steve Bslmutj says:

    How did you leave off Jordan Fiorentini from Epoch.

  3. Sandra Roberts says:

    Missed one…Danielle Cyrot. Cade Estata, Howell Mtn

  4. Kent Benson says:

    Didn’t know WSET ever had “sommelier” exams. Might want to double check that. First paragraph of Terrizzi profile.

  5. Kent Benson says:

    Re Barrett profile: Since the topic is winemakers, give credit where credit is due. The person who “made” the 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was Mike Grgich.

  6. Penny Gadd-Coster is a winemaker in Sonoma County who won “Winemaker of the Year” in 2013 in the inaugural Wine Industry Awards, a great achievement considering contenders were from the entire Napa, Sonoma and greater Bay Area winemaking regions! She’s also won over 30 Best of Class, Best of Show, Sweepstakes, Gold medals and 90+ point ratings for four wines in the past few years!

  7. Bob Kugler says:

    You missed Signe Zoller at 72 years young, graduated from Davis with a MS in enology chemistry. Founding winemaker for Jess at Kendal Jackson and now winemaker for AVE.

  8. Nice article, and I’m sure we all have additions to make. Mine are Milla Handley of Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley and Shauna Rosenblum of Rock Wall Wine Co.

  9. Carlos Rodda says:

    Agree with Kent above, it was made by WINEMAKER Miljenko “Mike” Grgich, winery was OWNED by the Barretts!

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