Women Crushing It in the Wine World

Jul 21, 2023by Andrew Lowry

by Madison Lowry

This week we want to highlight some pretty sweet women in the wine world. The history of women in the wine industry reads similar to that of most industries in the US and around the world. Women did not begin influencing wine-making until the 19th century. Interestingly, their presence in the industry began in 1848 when the Married Women's Property Act was passed. This granted married women control over their shared property/income with their husbands and in turn, opened the door to the world of wine. 

Hannah Weinberger

In 1882, Hanna Weinberger’s husband was killed. Prior to the passing of the Married Women’s Property Act, Hanna would not have had any interest in her husband’s owned winery. With interest in the winery, she was able to take over and become the first female winemaker in Napa Valley. The unfortunate situation of a husband passing allowed for many other women to step into the wine industry and make a difference.

Hannah continued to run a successful winery in Napa and even took her wines to the World’s Fair in Paris in 1886 where she won silver medals in the wine competitions!

Read more about the women currently crushing it in Napa here.

Barbe-Nicole Clicquot

Most of us have heard of Vueve Clicquot, but you may not know the reason it is so tasty and loved around the world. After her husband passed, Barbe-Nicole Cicquot was now the owner of their Champagne house. She was not pleased with the taste of the champagne being made a developed the riddling process. Have you seen that scene in Emily in Paris where she wins a competition to see who can rotate all the champagne bottles the quickest? That is the riddling process - rotating the bottle in small increments while gradually tilting it so that it is neck down. Here is a quick video showing how it’s done.

Claudia Harris

We literally cannot find a picture of her on the entire internet! Free bottle of wine if you can.

One of the more esteemed titles to hold in the wine industry is that of Master Sommelier. If you are not familiar with what it takes to be certified as a Master Sommelier, check out the Somm movie series, have someone pour you your favoirte glass of wine, place that glass next another (of the same color) and see if you can identify it. You can purchase the movies here or watch on Somm TV.

Today, there are 186 certified Master Sommeliers. Of this 186, 25 are women. Claudia Harris was the first woman to pass the exam and become a certified Master Sommelier.

Jancis Robinson

Jancis Robinson is one of the more influential women in the wine industry. In fact, she wrote the book on wine. She authored the first 4 editions of the Oxford Companion to Wine, which includes everything there is to know about wine. Fun fact - she even provided advice for the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth, the late Queen of England.

Her significance in the wine world is unmatched. She is the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world. You can learn more from her directly at her website. The website is updated daily with articles, podcasts, learning materials, books, newsletter and much more. 

Karen Macneil

Karen Macneil is another famous author in the wine industry. She wrote The Wine Bible. This book includes, “everything you need to know to buy and enjoy the world’s most captivating beverage” (The Wine Bible). If you are planning to visit anywhere in the world where there is a wine country, make sure to check out this book for historical information and guides on the best wineries and restaurants in the area.

Madeline Puckette

While we like to believe we have provided great educational material through our weekly blogs, there is no company that compares to Wine Folly. Wine Folly was created by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammock in 2011. Wine Folly lead the way in terms of online wine blogs and remains the gold standard.

You can read more about Madeline in this Wine Folly article that highlights the cofounder.


If you are interested in supporting wineries that are run by and/or heavily influenced by women, check out these Women Who Influence the Wine World