The influence and presence of women in wine
As a female collector, I usually find myself sitting at extremely gender-biased tables, often as the sole woman. This can be intimidating, or, worse, I have been ‘talked at,’ and dismissed. The female palate has been proven to be better than men’s and cannot afford to be dismissed. By encouraging women to enter into wine we can address the balance at the table. Raising awareness and building confidence by supporting women in both the industry and consumer spheres will help break the bias.
Options for women have changed since I started in the wine industry 20 years ago. There is still a lot to be done in terms of the gender gap – we are sometimes misjudged or underestimated. Yet the way women support each other is starting to feel real, our community is more united. There is an increasing collective of people, both men and women, that understand how change can only make our industry healthier.
Working in wine has been a gift. There are challenges, of course, most industries are male dominated. Long established wine regions tend to be more traditional in their view of gender roles. Younger wine regions, such as England, are more open to women taking on technical roles, and notable for the number of women making many of our acclaimed wines.
Representation is vital in developing diverse talent, and a resilient industry, but it shouldn’t be surprising what women can achieve. Representation of women in the commercial C-suite in wine is still low. As an industry we don’t have the big players coming together to create the type of diversity and talent programmes you see in other sectors.
In both my careers I have been outnumbered by men – but that hasn’t bother me in the least. Nevertheless, I have loved seeing more women in wineries and vineyards, as well as MWs, wine critics, wine journalists, and wine judges. It used to be just Jancis Robinson – but now, wherever you look, there’s a sipster! I think the wine world in the past may have been a little stuffy – but now it’s a more vibrant, welcoming community.