International Women’s Day and the Undervalued Role Women Play in the Wine Industry

Today, we celebrate all the inspiring women who are helping pave the way for equality and diversity in wine. The road to recognizing women’s role in wine has been difficult but there are signs that raise hope.

Historically, gender bias is at the heart of the wine industry’s lopsided exclusion of women, who have always played a key role in the production, manufacturing and sale of wines around the world - dating back to ancient times. Maybe not so hard to believe, in say the 1820s, but tough to believe in 2022 that gender still influences so much of such a massive industry. After all, how can there be gender bias in something as humble as grape-growing in the modern world? Honestly, we don’t always have the answers to complex and charged questions like this, but we do know how to play our small role in the fight for equality in wine.

To celebrate women in wine and the resulting diversity of wines requires some introspection. Think about what your wine drinking experience would be if you suddenly denied access or devalued roughly half of the wines available to you. Kinda crazy, right? 

At the heart of great wines is diversity, and the range of opinions, backgrounds, experiences and ideas is as important as terroir and climate. Allowing diversity to root into the culture of wine will always result in something far better and more worthwhile. When the coalition for the inclusion of women in wine started gaining traction, it gave way to the rise of some of the most important and influential winemakers in the world. Simply put, the wine world wouldn’t be what it is today without the female brilliance that we’ve seen over the last 20+ years.

At In Wines We Trust we’ve decided to play a role in trying to solve this complicated puzzle since our inception: a mandate that at least half of our suppliers, winery partners, importers and individual wine labels be owned by women or women-led companies. It’s an honest and true reflection of the value of women in male-dominated industries like wine and, more broadly, the business community. And it’s the only way to truly achieve equality in the space, by using our platform to shine a bright spotlight on women and their accomplishments.

With that said, the equity war has not been won for women and keeping our mandate requires a lot of time and effort (which we gladly accept as part of the cost of doing business the way we do). Female-owned or female-led wineries are a tiny drop in the bucket of the business of wine. The American Association of Wine Economists estimates only 5% of wineries in California, for instance, are independently owned by women - a state with a notable reputation for progress and equal rights, mind you.

Even some of the most celebrated Champagne brands in the world only came to be under female ownership because of loopholes in French laws that allowed widows to continue operating these estates. Clicquot, Bollinger and Pommery, among others, exist almost as exceptions to broader female success in wine, enabled by the fact that they had, at one point, been married to men. Hardly what you’d call a win for feminism in the grand scheme of things but still hugely pivotal for the acceptance of female leadership in the wine industry.

Today, and everyday, we celebrate great winemakers and leaders in wine like Judith Beck, Sandra Bravo, Ariane Lesné, Baia and Gvantsa Abuladze, Clémence Lelarge-Pugeot, Elisabetta Foradori, Yvonne Irvine, Victoria Ordóñez, Emily Towe, Kathryn Hall, Tara Gomez, Angela Osborne and many, many more.

The collective success of women in wine is something we’ll always share and promote and we hope to find true inclusion by continuing to commit to a year-round effort to promote women in wine. You can search our library of tasting notes for all women-owned wines by using the filter and selecting Women-Owned under the Collection drop down. Explore the beauty and range of wines offered by our amazing female colleagues and partners and ask about our current offerings to continue enabling an ecosystem where women can thrive.

Check out the International Women's Day Maenad Wine Co. Mixed Pack in our shop.

Happy International Women’s Day!

IWWT Founder and Partner,
Steph Albert