Women Winemakers Reveal Personal Odysseys in New Book

A remarkable new book that chronicles the courageous and passionate journeys of talented women who have earned success in the male-dominated field of winemaking has been released. Women Winemakers: Personal Odysseys is the result of years of research and personal interviews with women winemakers throughout California and selected wine regions around the world by researchers and authors Lucia Albino Gilbert and John C. Gilbert, university professors and lovers of wine.

As academic professionals with a deep interest in promoting women’s careers in male-dominated fields, and personally passionate about wine, the Gilberts set out to make lead women winemakers and their contributions to the wine industry more visible in writing Women Winemakers: Personal Odysseys, which is now available in bookstores, winery tasting rooms and online at Amazon.

“We started our project in California,” said Lucia Albino Gilbert, “because we had heard and read that women winemakers had shattered the glass ceiling in this traditionally male-dominated field. We were interested in learning how they did it. We found from the research we subsequently conducted, however, that only ten percent of the lead winemakers were women. This prompted us to begin meeting with the winemakers to learn about their experiences and career paths.”

“Our process was to meet in person with lead winemakers, women who hold the primary and decision-making responsibility for the winemaking programs,” added John Gilbert. “We met with nearly 150 winemakers in California and the wine regions of Champagne, France; Douro Valley, Portugal; Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand; Piedmont, Italy; and Penedés, Priorat, and Rioja, Spain.” Maps that show where the winemakers are located are also included in the book.

The authors engaged in one-on-one conversations with trailblazing winemakers and those following them, using the lens of career pathways and the cultural histories of each wine region to elucidate how each of the women found her way to winemaking. They ultimately developed a framework for the book built around four general career pathways into the world of wine: Sensory pathway; Family pathway; Science/Agronomy pathway, or Enology pathway. Despite occurring in different cultures and times, the journeys of these women demonstrate a commonality of purpose and direction.

The Gilberts hold the belief that learning the names, stories, cultural challenges, and varied career paths of women winemakers will help change and challenge the traditional societal view that women do not have a central role and place in producing wine.

“With expanded visibility, together with an understanding of the paths they have traveled, other women will be encouraged to enter the wine business with the confidence that they too can be successful,” Lucia Albino Gilbert concluded. “Their stories will inspire current and future winemakers, as well as educate wine enthusiasts about what enables the careers of women who make wine.”

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