8th March: Women of wine, women’s wines
The 8th March every year is when we celebrate International Women’s Day and because we’re all about wines, we want to take advantage of this day (and hopefully other ones too) to pay tribute to and recognise all the women working hard in the wine industry in one way or another.
To do this, we have chosen a small but representative sample of 5 great Spanish winemakers who, regardless of their gender, have managed to make a place for themselves among the leading names in wine.
This is for you and for all those who show us that behind a great wine, there’s a great woman.
The best winemaker in the world is Spanish and her name is María Vargas.
María started working at the Marqués de Murrieta winery in Rioja at a very young age. She started as an assistant winemaker until one day Vicente Dalmau, owner of the winery, gave her the opportunity to lead the winemaking team. She was only 25 years old.
Since then, she not only harvests great grapes for great wines, but also reaps the rewards of having her passion recognised through numerous awards that celebrate the Marqués de Murrieta winery and its wines year after year. She is the creator of Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial, named “Best Wine in the World” by the American Wine Spectator magazine.
María Vargas is one of the six most influential women in Spanish wine, according to Decanter, and was recently named “Best Winemaker in the World” at the “Women in Wine & Spirits Awards 2021” held in China.
Paola was born in the heart of a family winery in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz), so ever since she was a child she has lived and breathed the spirit of Jerez wine. After graduating with a degree in Chemistry, Oenology and Viticulture and having worked as a winemaker in wineries in Castilla La Mancha (Spain), she joined the family winery in 2010. She is the second generation to run Williams & Humbert, where she is Technical Director and Winemaker.
Paola Medina is one of the most recognised voices and a driving force of the “Sherry Revolution”, so much so that, according to the specialist Decanter magazine, she is one of the six most influential women on the Spanish wine scene. Her intense passion for sherry wine and desire to promote innovation alongside tradition have resulted in wines that are known and loved all over the world.
Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle states that “what we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning”. Sara Pérez transforms what she observes and teaches us to drink and experience wine in better ways. She is no longer just the daughter and daughter-in-law of two of the “magnificent five” (Josep Lluís Pérez and René Barbier), that group who brought about the Priorat revolution; now she is known in her own right as one of the most admired and influential women in the world of wine.
It isn’t that she has taken on the legacy of transforming Priorat, but rather that she continues to work on understanding and respecting nature, through conscious transformation and constant experimentation, bringing her own vision to the Mas Martinet family winery in Priorat, and Venus La Universal, the winemaking project she runs with her partner, René Barbier Jr. in Montsant, both producing elegant wines with soul and personality. People are captivated by Sara just from looking at her. She has a charisma, energy and humility that are reflected in each of her wines, which are known and highly valued all over the world.
Verónica Ortega is the light from Cádiz that came to illuminate Bierzo. Originally from Cádiz, and after having gained experience in places like Romanée-Conti and Domaine du Compte Armand in Burgundy; with Daphne Glorian and Álvaro Palacios in Priorat and at Domaine Laurent Combier in Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone, she arrived in Bierzo where she fell in love with this “no man's land” and its red Mencía grape. Her wines are a declaration of intent, pure and elegant, just like her. Made through knowledge and intuition, these wines are full of magic that surprise and win over the best tasters of the international critics year after year.
Undoubtedly, Verónica Ortega is one of the new generation winemakers to be reckoned with. Her wines have become exquisite and unmissable creations, made through humility and respect for the land and its fruits.
Victoria Torres Pecis
Victoria Torres Pecis is a volcano of beautiful Canarian energy, as beautiful as her island, La Palma, which is home to some of the most amazing and authentic vineyards in the world. Vicky, the winemaker, as she is affectionately known, produces wines with an artisan character and no additives. She is guided by the knowledge of five generations who have made wine at the Matías i Torres winery. She follows the principles of biodynamics and a respect for nature, because it is not easy to work on volcanic soil where the vines cling to the ground to avoid succumbing to the force of the winds. Josep (Pitu) Roca, renowned sommelier of “El Celler de Can Roca” has said that her wines “evoke infinity”.
In 2019, Vicky was awarded for her winemaking work in the XXXVI Gastronomy Awards of the Diario de Avisos, the newspaper of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain).
We want to honour her for being one of people responsible for putting the Canary Islands in the spotlight as a place of quality winemaking (and a lot of love). If you are lucky enough to find any of their wines, don’t leave them on the shelf because they sell out quickly.
This is just a small selection of all the great women connected to wine. From those who work in the vineyard to those who make the wine and make it possible for it to reach our glasses. Here’s to them and to all women today, and every day of the year.