On March 8th, International Women’s Day, we celebrate the fine Women of Wine. In a male dominated wine industry, Cellar Angels often features women-owned wineries and female winemakers, elevating their career accomplishments and premium Napa and Sonoma artisan wines.
While this is not a full list, below are five women winemakers to support with your wine purchase in 2023. These women are not afraid of getting dirt under their nails, purple stains on their hands and grape guts on their clothes. And they just happen to make exceptional limited production wines.
We admire their passion, dedication and hard work. So, today we celebrate them.
ELKHORN PEAK CELLARS
Elise Nerlove is a second generation grape grower, winemaker and an advocate for the small family farms. Elise is the assistant winemaker and second generation grower working alongside her father in the vineyard. Elise also manages the wine club, and began the Pét Nat program at Elkhorn Peak in 2020. Elise is also helping make history as an Executive Committee member for Save the Family Farms, fighting for the rights of small farmers in Napa Valley. The organization’s efforts will help family owned farms and wine producers like Elkhorn Peak to achieve the Micro Winery designation. This status is particularly important for grape-growers like Elkhorn Peak Cellars, who prioritize making outstanding wine over increasing volume, and don’t have the funds to build tasting room facilities onsite. Under this new designation, farmers and wine producers will be able to bring their customers onsite to taste wine and experience the property.
Learn more about Elkhorn Peak Cellars.
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Proprietress Allie Ketcham
Proprietress Allie Ketcham is very proud to run Ketcham Estate with the help of women, including Winemaker Tami Collins and Director of Happiness Renne Graves (left).
Tami has a B.S. degree in Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and she has completed the coursework at the University of California, Davis in Wine Chemistry, Winegrape Production, and Sensory Evaluation. She has more than 10 years of experience making wine in Sonoma and Mendocino counties using super- and ultra-premium grapes. She was assistant winemaker for six years at Blackstone Winery where she learned the art of blending from award-winning winemaker Dennis Hill. Other experiences include working at Leasingham Winery in Australia and Dunnewood in Ukiah, CA.
Learn more about the woman-owned winery, Ketcham Estate where Tami is a winemaker now.
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Winemaker Elaine Sale
Elaine Sale offers award-winning, hand crafted, single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from a Micro-Winery in the Heart of the Russian River Valley.
While new to the winemaking world, Elaine’s wines have already garnered many awards and the following of many wine enthusiasts. Her efforts and determination have helped her win many awards and recognition from critics, including from the Sunset International Wine Competition – which gets more than 3,000 wines submitted.
Learn more about her small, woman-owned Napa Valley winery, Elaine Wines.
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Winemaker Jackie Van Sant-Downes
Jaclynn Renée Wines
Inspired by her aunt, a wine bar owner in Texas, Jaclynn took only three days after her graduation from Texas Tech, then immediately headed to Sonoma for her first wine internship in 2007. She quickly realized she was quite good at manual labor and figured out the first week that she wanted to do it forever. Jaclynn’s passion for wine, winemaking and her family is absolutely infectious. And her selection in vineyard sources has yielded some amazing results.
Learn more about her boutique woman-owned winery Jaclynn Renée Wines.
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Winemaker LoRENZA ALLEN
Lorenza was born in the tiny village of Turin, Italy – the third biggest city in the country. There wasn’t much winemaking in her family, but her dad gave her a glass or two of Moscato on special occasions (every Sunday).
When it came time to decide what to do after high school, she met someone from the agriculture school in Alba by chance. He told her of a magical career called ‘winemaking’. This led her to a bachelor’s degree in Viticulture and Enology on the doorstep of Barolo and Barbaresco.
She went on to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Viticulture and Enology before pursuing a Master’s degree in France and studying in Portugal. She worked in Australia for three years before settling in California, where she worked at Failla. Together with study and then life partner James they focused on their wine project, Accenti. Lorenza’s dedication to winemaking is evident in her love for wine culture, which she carries with her wherever she goes.
Learn more about Accenti Wines.
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