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Cheers to local women in wine

Recently I spent an evening in support of women in wine.

The happy hour began with a tasting of local women-made wines. The night slipped easily into conversation, laughter and camaraderie, accompanied by light rain, and delicate gold-trimmed porcelain plates ready to be filled with charcuterie, cheese, fruits and nuts beautifully offered.

Hopefully, there will be many more evenings like this advocating for and encouraging focus on women creating and defining leadership roles in the Southern Oregon wine industry, and beyond.

This local group is part of Women in Wine: Fermenting Change in Oregon (womeninwineoregon.com), a member-based nonprofit started a few years back in the Portland area. Women have always been a part of the wine world, but mostly relegated to the back supportive offices, daughter of a winemaker, wife of a winemaker or field worker. Winemaking has traditionally been a man’s domain. But globally, women are moving forward and taking the reins when they inherit a vineyard or winery, or independently found one of their own.

The role of women in wineries is changing but has been slow in coming. Recently there’s been a lift, but when looking at the statistics we see there is still a ways to go. In the U.S., 60% of wine consumers are women. Around 60% of graduates in the Viticulture and Enology program at UC Davis are women, but only about 10% of California winemakers are women. Less than 4% of wineries in California are owned by women alone, and co-ownership is at 38%. Generally, women working in wine-related jobs earn less than their male peers.

It has been noted that may women have a finer taste palate and are better winemakers. I don’t know if this is true, can be proven, or if it’s even of importance. What is important is that women are now at the table and the perspective of tastes can be crafted into more diverse styles and nuances.

Here’s a shout out to the first women in wine of the Rogue Valley.

Traute Moore is the first of the first women. Buying 15 acres in 1989, she was here tending the Quail Run vineyards for a year before her husband, the late Don Moore, retired from medicine and joined her.

Following more than a decade later, in 2003, EdenVale Winery opened its doors with co-owner Anne Haworth Root and winemaker Ashley Campanella.

Linda Donovan, owner/winemaker, founded Pallet Wine Company in 2009 as the first custom-crush facility in Southern Oregon. She’s still at the helm, and Pallet is the largest producing custom crush in the area.

Rachael Martin is co-owner and winemaker at Red Lily Vineyards in the Applegate Valley.

New girl on the scene is Sara Garr, whose label Circadian Cellars was one of the featured wines, along with Red Lily, at the Women in Wine Happy Hour event.

Cheers to the women! This is just the beginning.

Reach Paula Bandy at pbthegrapevine@gmail.com and connect with her on Instagram at @pbthroughthegrapevine.