Wonder Women: 10 female California winemakers to watch

Heidi Peterson Barrett

6 Heidi Peterson BarrettDaughter of California wine pioneer Richard Peterson, Heidi Peterson Barrett is behind some of California’s most lusted after wines. Known as the “First Lady of wine”, her fate in the California vintners hall of fame was sealed when she produced the inaugural vintage of Screaming Eagle in 1992, which, on receiving a 99-point score from Robert Parker, thrusted both her and the wine into the spotlight. During her time at the estate she received five perfect 100-point scores from Parker.

Graduating from UC Davis in 1980, she has made balanced, elegant, age-worthy Cabernets for other big gun California estates, including Dalla Valle and Grace Family Vineyards. Her skills are in play at both Paradigm and Kenzo Estate, where she makes wine, along with Diamond Creek Vineyards and Niebaum-Coppola, who she consults for. Barrett achieves all this while running her own boutique label, La Sirena (meaning the mermaid) where she makes Cabernet, Grenache and a Syrah blend among other drops.

She is also half of one of California’s top winemaking power couples – her husband is Bo Barrett, chief winemaker at Château Montelena, which shot to fame in 1976 when its 1973 Chardonnay, made by Bo’s father Jim, trumped a number of top French wines to win first place among the whites in the historic Judgement of Paris tasting organised by English wine writer Steven Spurrier. The pair make Napa Cabernet together under the Barrett & Barrett label.

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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