On Wine


Hail to the Female...Women Winemakers


by Fred McMillin


How Times Have Changed

  • 195 B.C. - Greek women who were found drinking wine could be put to death.
  • 2007 A.D. - The only winemaker in the world to have four wines awarded a perfect 100 points by Robert Parker, Jr. was a WOMAN, Heidi Barrett of Screaming Eagle.

Global Gourmet reader Margarita Slusky wants to taste some wines made by the ladies. So, in addition to Heidi Barrett, here are some other outstanding ones:


Julio Gallo, the first Gallo winemaker, appointed his granddaughter Gina Gallo as the company's first female winemaker some 70 years later. Gallo Family Vineyards makes a variety of wines, both red and white. Recent high-scoring Gallo Family wines include:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon-Reserve, Sonoma County, 2006, $15
  • Pinot Gris, Sonoma County, 2007, $15
  • Chardonnay, Sonoma County, 2007, $15

Eileen Crane has been not only the winemaker of California's Domaine Carneros but also its president. Her fine wines includes: sparklers and Pinot Noir.

  • Pinot Noir, 2006, $35
  • Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine, NV, $36

Milla Handley was majoring in art at University of California, Davis when Bacchus bit her. She switched to wine science. After working for some renowned vintners, she opened Handley Cellars in the garage beneath her home, and now produces memorable reds, whites and sparklers. Her Dry Creek Valley and Anderson Valley Chardonnays have always scored well as has her Blanc de Blancs sparkler. The last one to win in my class was her 2003 Pinot Noir.

  • Pinot Noir, 2003, $16
  • Blanc de Blancs Sparkler, $25
  • Chardonnay, Dry Creek Valley, $18
  • Chardonnay, Anderson Valley, $18

Cathy Corison earned her first degree in biology and then enology (U.C.Davis). She became winemaker at Chappellet Winery in the late 1960's, taking over the winery in 1981. She created her own label in 1987 and never looked back. She makes only Cabernet Sauvignon and the press has reported that "they have been getting better and better." Her 2004 Cab, at $70, dazzled my Fort Mason class. They gave it a score of 90!


And a Final Wine Smile (Viva Variety!)

Wine comes in a variety of colors, red, pink and white...which reminds me of Henry Ford's statement when he produced his first autos: "You can have any color you want, as long as it's black."


Credits: Edgar Vogt
Statistics: Ophie Mercado


Fred McMillin

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for over 30 years on three continents. He was voted one of the U.S.A's 22 Best wine writers by the Academy of Wine Communications. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

Copyright © 2010, Fred McMillin. All rights reserved.

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This page created March 2010