In celebration of International Women’s Day, we are putting the much-deserved spotlight on some incredible female winemakers, estate owners and professionals in our industry.
Juliana Kelman from Kelman Winery in Dao, Portugal
Born in Brazil to Portuguese parents, Juliana’s journey into wine is one of family-ties: her great-grandparents had produced wine in the Minho region of Portugal in the early 1900s. Juliana’s background is that of a marketer for large corporations but was inspired to get back to her vinous roots. After a few years of finetuning her business plan with her husband Rafel, they took the plunge and purchased a small 6-hectare estate in Dao, Portugal. In 2013, they began producing wine from grapes native to Portugal, with some restricted to the Dao Region. The fruit is manually harvested at their estate, and following local tradition, fermentation often takes place in granite Lagares dating back to 1741, where the grapes are threaded by foot. With truly minimal intervention winemaking, Kelman Family Vineyards aim to showcase the best expression of the Dão region. Eight years on, and Juliana has not looked back since her corporate days as she happily pursues her passion for producing exceptional wines! Click here to explore the Kelman Winery range.
Corinne Seely from Exton Park in New Hampshire, England
After studying Mineral Chemistry and then Oenology, Corinne became part of the team, making the first white wines at Château Lynch-Bages at the tender age of 24. She was winemaker at Domaine de Chevalier, a highly respected estate in Pessac-Léognan, and a flying winemaker in Languedoc, Portugal and Australia, before coming to the UK to work as winemaker at Coates & Seely in 2008. She joined Exton Park in 2011. The wines of Exton Park are made to exceptionally high standards: Corinne does not take any of the traditional shortcuts available to sparkling wine producers, and every release is a meticulous expression of their chalky Hampshire terroir. Click here to explore the Exton Park Range.
Lynn Penner-Ash from Penner-Ash in Oregon, USA
Lynn's interest in wine began while studying Botany at the University of California. In her junior year, she changed her major to Viticulture, and then, after working a harvest at Domaine Chandon, to Enology. She worked at a number of top wineries in California before moving to Oregon with her husband, Ron, in 1988 to become the winemaker at Rex Hill Vineyards – the first female winemaker to be hired in Oregon. She remained with Rex Hill, in various roles, until 2002 when she left them to focus on her burgeoning side-project, Penner-Ash Wine Cellars. Starting in 1998, Lynn and Ron had produced small amounts of Pinot Noir and Syrah under the Penner-Ash label, and early success allowed them to focus their efforts on building this brand. In 2005, they designed and built a sustainable, gravity-flow estate winery on a hilltop surrounded by their estate vineyards; and the business has gone from strength to strength since. Over the past few decades, Lynn has mentored dozens in the vineyard, in the cellar and across the wine industry. Today, she continues to inspire and lead an all-female winemaking team at Penner-Ash! Click here to explore the Penner Ash range.
Denise Adam, from Chateau Fonplegade & Chateau L’Enclos in Bordeaux, France
Denise and her husband honeymooned in Saint-Emilion, and after returning to the region to renew their vows, they stumbled upon Chateau Fonplegade and immediately fell in love with the estate, acquiring it in 2004.Denise studied art history and art education at the Kent State University, and after several years of teaching art, she established her own successful design company. Applying this experience, Denise helped oversee a complete renovation of Chateau Fonplegade and a comprehensive renewal of the vineyard. Denise is a truly hands-on proprietor, taking charge of daily operations at Château Fonplegade. A lifelong organic gardener and consumer, she feels that her greatest contribution to the estate has been spearheading its conversion to certified organic and biodynamic farming practices, which not only benefit the land, but play an essential role in elevating the quality of the wines. She is active in all areas of operations, and led the development of Château Fonplegade's pioneering hospitality program. She is also intimately involved in all decisions that shape the quality of the wines. From approving new plantings to blind tasting with Michel Rolland and Stephane Derenoncourt to assess the quality of every lot, Denise has established herself as a committed and steadfast vintner. Click here to explore Chateau Fonplegade & Chateau L'Enclos
Elisa Fanti From Tenuta Fanti in Tuscany, Italy
Tenuta Fanti is owned by the Fanti family since the early 18th Century and has always been a reference for the production of wine, extra-virgin olive oil and cereals in the area of Montalcino. Ever since Elisa was a child, she used to follow her father around the vineyards, admiring his work and slowly but surely building her passion for agriculture. Not surprisingly, she attended University to study Agronomy and immediately after graduating, she joined the family company in 2007. Following every step of the production, Elisa’s strong eco-friendly approach to agriculture contributes to the exceptional quality of the wines produced at the estate. With her determination and energy, the reputation of the Fanti Brand is left in great hands as she continues to pave the way for the rest of the talented women working at Tenuta Fanti. Click here to explore the Tenuta Fanti range.
Narelle King from Tar & Roses in Victoria, Australia
A former Sydney accountant, Narelle King, began her winemaking career in the late 1990′s after completing her winemaking degree at Charles Sturt University. She landed her first full-time winery job in 2001 at Mitchelton Wines in Central Victoria, where her passion grew, and met esteemed senior winemaker Don Lewis. After leaving Mitchelton Wines, both Don Lewis and Narelle King began a winemaking journey in Priorat, Spain, immersing themselves within the classic Mediterranean wine regions and varietals. This sparked an interest in how these varietals could be grown and made back home in their native regions of Central Victoria, Australia, where Tar & Roses was born. Following his passing, Narelle is carrying on the Tar & Roses tradition with her uncompromising approach, taking extraordinary lengths to get the best fruit possible from the local vineyards. Click here to explore the Tar & Roses range.