Who are some notable women in the wine and spirits industry?
- Susana Balbo
- Jancis Robinson
- Karen MacNeil
- Robin Lail
- Madeline Triffon
- Cathy Corison
- Lynnette Marrero
- Kirsten Beverley-Waters
- Mariena Mercer Boarini
- Joanne Moore
- Lesley Gracie
- Emma Hooper
- Dr. Anne Brock
- Mariko Tajiri
- Hiroko Furukawa
- Miho Imada
While the wine and spirits industry has often been viewed as a male-dominated field, several notable women have significantly impacted the art of making, pairing, and critiquing wine such that they have etched their names in history. This Women’s Month, we celebrate the ladies who have changed the field of wine, liquors, and other spirits for the better. Be inspired by these women in the wine and spirits industry.
Let’s raise our glasses and celebrate these women who have made significant contributions to the wine industry.
A winemaker and founder of one of the most well-respected and innovative wineries in Argentina, Susana Balbo is known for being one of the first winemakers in Argentina to introduce new winemaking techniques and grape varieties. She received numerous awards for her contributions to the wine industry, including being named “Woman of the Year” by the Argentine government in 2012.
The first Master of Wine (MW) from outside the wine trade, Jancis Robinson is considered the world’s most influential wine critic in various US, France, and international polls. She has been the Financial Times’s wine correspondent since 1990 and was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 2003.
Karen MacNeil is the author of what might be considered the definitive book on wine, The Wine Bible. As a prominent wine educator for over 30 years, she has taught courses and seminars on wine in countries worldwide. She has also written for numerous publications and won multiple awards for her contributions to the wine world.
Robin Lail was born into a wine-making family, with her great-granduncle Gustave Niebaum having founded the legendary Inglenook Winery. She founded Lail Vineyards in 1995. Since then, it has become one of the most respected wineries in Napa Valley, making Robin a leading figure in the California wine industry.
Madeline Triffon is the first woman to earn the title of Master Sommelier in the USA. Known for her extensive knowledge of wine and her contributions to the industry, she was one of the few ladies to hold the prestigious title of Master Sommelier in 1987 and the first American woman to do so. Over the years, she has also been involved in wine education, consulting, and advocacies for women in the wine industry.
Another Napa Valley winemaker, Cathay Corison has been making wine for over 30 years. She is best known for producing high-quality, elegant, well-balanced, and long-lasting Cabernet Sauvignon wines. She worked as a winemaker for several different wineries before starting her own in 1987 and is known as a respected voice in the wine industry.
Liquors and Spirits
These women focused on mixology and have pioneered many fancy drinks in the liquors and spirits industry.
Lynnette Marrero is a prominent mixologist, bartender, and drink consultant based in New York City. She is known both for her expertise in cocktail making and her work as an advocate for women and POCs in the hospitality industry. She is the co-founder of Speed Rack, a cocktail competition for women bartenders, and of the nonprofit organization Women United for Spirits and Education (WUSE).
A mixologist and bartender based in London, Kirsten Beverley-Waters is known for her innovative and creative cocktail mixes, which have garnered several awards. She is known for incorporating unusual ingredients and flavors into her drinks and has worked with several high-profile brands like Absolut Vodka, Grey Goose, and Belvedere Vodka.
Mariena Mercer Boarini
Also known for her unique and innovative approach to cocktail mixing, which is spurred by her extensive knowledge of spirits and ingredients, Mariena Mercer Boarini is a renowned mixologist and beverage consultant based in Las Vegas. She gained recognition in 2009 when she won the Bombay Sapphire "Most Imaginative Bartender" competition and has gone on to win several other awards since.
Several female distillers would find their names on a list such as this, such that there are simply too many to name in this section. Notable names include master distiller for Greenall’s Gin Joanne Moore, founder of Hendrick’s Gin Lesley Gracie, co-founder of Brighton Gin Emma Hooper, and PhD-holding master distiller for Bombay Sapphire Gin Dr. Anne Brock.
Similarly, quite a few women have made significant impacts on the sake industry. Mariko Tajiri, for example, is a sake sommelier and educator promoting sake culture in the USA for over 20 years now. Hiroko Furukawa is the brewer and president of the Asamai Shuzo brewery in Hokkaido, while Miho Imada is the brewer and president of the Imada Sake brewery in Hiroshima.
In this article, we’ve listed just some of the women in the wine and spirits industry from whom you can take inspiration. Each of these women has a history of not backing down in a male-dominated landscape and judging by the accolades and renown they’ve accomplished, they’ve done it right.
For more information on wines, spirits, food pairings, and hosting tips, check out the rest of our blog. And for all your wine and spirits needs, stick with the supplier of the best red wines in the Philippines—Ralph’s!