In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating the trailblazing female entrepreneurs around the world that have shaped the wine industry into what it is today. In professions dominated by men, these women worked tirelessly to become experts in their field and masters of their craft.
Also known as “The Widow Clicquot,” Barbe-Nicole was the first woman to run a Champagne house. During a time where a woman’s sole focus was raising a family, Barbe-Nicole had bigger dreams and aspirations outside of the traditional roles set forth by society. Months after marrying her husband Francis, the couple bought parcels of land to begin growing grapes in Reims, France.
Barbe-Nicole worked alongside her husband who became the face of the company until his death in 1805. The word “Veuve” translates to “widow” in French, and at the age of twenty-eight Barbe-Nicole took over the company that is now known as Veuve Clicquot.
In the 1880s, Hannah Weinberger became the first female winemaker in California. After her husband’s death in 1882, Hannah assumed control of his winery. Shortly thereafter, Hannah entered the World’s Fair in Paris and was the only woman vintner to win a silver medal in the wine competition.
The Weinberger property grew to 35 acres and was run by Hannah until 1920 when prohibition forced the family to close the winery. Little did we know that we’d need to wait another 50 years for another female vintner to become a main player in the industry.
Known as the first female winemaker in California after prohibition, MaryAnn Graf was a true trailblazer. Graduating from UC Davis in 1965, MaryAnn Graf was the first woman to receive an enology degree in fermentation sciences. MaryAnn later became the first woman to serve on the board of directors for the American Society for Enology and Viticulture.
MaryAnn started as an assistant winemaker at Gibson Wine Co. before moving to the historic Sonoma winery Simi in 1973 where she got her big break as their head winemaker. At a time where few women had held leadership positions in wine, MaryAnn was paving the way for female winemakers. After leaving Simi in 1979, MaryAnn co-founded a consulting service for the wine industry called Vinquiry.
At the age of 26, Alpana Singh became the youngest woman to earn the title of Master Sommelier. Achieving the title of Master Sommelier requires years of study, rigorous exams, and blind tastings, of which, most applicants fail. Alpana is one of America’s only women of color to receive such a prestigious title.
Today Alpana owns three restaurants in Chicago, and is the host of an Emmy award-winning restaurant review television series on PBS, Check, Please!
Denee & Coral Brown
In 1980 Bassett Brown and Marcela Abrahams Brown purchased an abandoned 450-acre ranch in Napa Valley and began planting grapes that were farmed and sold to local winemakers. In 1995, their children Denee, Coral, and David decided to start making their own wine and established the Brown Estate. In January of 2000, they debuted their first three vintages at the annual ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) Grand Tasting in San Francisco.
The Brown Estate became the first and only black-owned winery in Napa Valley and is now known as one of the most well-regarded Zinfandel producers. Denee is the President of the Brown Estate, while Coral holds the position of Director of Wine, and David is the Winegrower.
A leader who champions diversity and inclusion in the food and hospitality industry, Tonya Pitts is a true changemaker. As a Sommelier, Wine & Food Consultant, speaker, and writer, Tonya is passionate about helping wineries, winemakers, and brands succeed. Tonya has been a judge for the San Francisco Food & Wine Festival for five years in a row, a speaker at the Culinary Institute of America Summit, and was recognized in the Top 40 African American Tastemakers (Under/Over) 40 list amongst other accomplishments. We were proud to feature Tonya in our Women in Wine panel at a past ONEHOPE CRUSH conference. Take a look at our interview with Tonya in part 1 and part 2 of our Women in Wine Panel here!
Mari Wells Coyle
After graduating in 2000 from UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology, Mari traveled the world apprenticing at wineries from Sonoma to New Zealand. After returning to the U.S., she took a position as a winemaker at Chatom Vineyards. In 2004 Mari became the winemaker at Girard Vineyards where she produced incredible varietals including Grenache, Roussanne, Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier, and Chardonnay for nearly 10 years. Mari left Girard for a prestigious position as winemaker at Sterling Vineyards before we snagged her at ONEHOPE.
Today Mari is our VP of Winemaking and Estate Operations, as well as our Head Winemaker, boasting an amazing portfolio of 90+ point-rated award-winning wines. We are incredibly honored to have such an acclaimed female winemaker that brings her vast knowledge and experience to the table to create exceptional wines for ONEHOPE at our winery and estate in Napa Valley.
Join our Curated Wine Club
If you’re looking for a way to expand your palate and try the incredible wines produced by Mari Wells Coyle, join the ONEHOPE Wine Club where Mari hand-selects six wines shipped to you every quarter. Enjoy 20% off, FREE shipping, and earn 10% back in rewards with every purchase. Learn more about the benefits of joining our Wine Club and click below to subscribe.
The ONEHOPE Wine Team