Facts and Figures about Women Winemakers of California

Lucia Albino Gilbert, Ph.D. and John Carl Gilbert, Ph.D.
Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA 95053

1. How many California wineries have a lead woman winemaker?

Of the 3400+ wineries in California, approximately 10% of the wineries have a woman as their lead winemaker.

2. Does the percentage of lead women winemakers in California vary by wine region?

Yes, the percentage varies significantly by wine region, with the percentages being highest (about 12%) in the Sonoma/Marin and Napa wine regions, and lowest in the Sierra Foothills and Southern California wine regions, 7% and 4%, respectively.

3. How many women are the lead winemakers for more than one California winery?

Of the 2600+ lead winemakers in California, approximately 1% of the female winemakers and 11% of the male winemakers craft wine for more than one California winery.

Proportional to their representation in the field, however, 11.5% of the female winemakers and 13% of the male winemakers craft wine for more than one winery.

4. Are the production ranges of wineries with female vs. male winemakers different?

No, the production ranges of California wineries with female and male winemakers are quite similar. Approximately 2% of these wineries produce more than 500,000 cases; 5% produce wines in the 50,000 to 499,999 case range, 21% in the 5,000-49,999 case range, 35% in the 1,000-4,999 case range, and 37% in the less than 1000 case range.

5. How many California wineries have a lead woman winemaker who is also the winery owner?

Among all California wineries, a significantly smaller proportion of women than men winemakers are also owners of their wineries (4% vs. 47%). Among those wineries with women winemakers, 39% are both owners and winemakers; among those with men winemakers, the figure is 52%.

6. Opus Vino is a widely cited and credible source of winery quality. How many women winemakers of California are included in Opus Vino?

Proportional to their representation in the field (i.e., 9.8% women, 90.2% men), 23% of wineries with women lead winemakers were listed in Opus Vino compared to 14.1% of wineries with male lead winemakers. Although men who are winemaker/owners are far more numerous among California wineries, a higher percentage of women owners/winemakers, proportional to their presence in the field, were among those wineries included in Opus Vino.

7. Who are the first woman winemakers and winery owners in California to have their own name on their labels?

    1982: Milla Handley made her first Handley Cellars Chardonnay under the Handley label in Mendocino.
    1984: Merry Edwards left Matanzas Creek to devote herself full time to consulting and Merry Vintners, a small winery that she and her family founded in the Russian River Valley. In 1997, she co-founded a business venture that allowed her to produce Merry Edwards wines in Sonoma County.
    1986: Delia Viader founded Viader Vineyards in Napa. Her first vintage was 1989, when she produced 1,200 cases of wine.
    1987: Cathy Corison made the first vintage of Corison Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa.
    1989: Lane Tanner instituted the Lane Tanner label in Santa Barbara County.
    1989: Marty Bannister established Bannister Wines in the Russian River Valley AVA.

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Note: These percentages are derived from our California winery comprehensive database, developed in August 2011 and revised in December 2012 from data provided by Wines &Vines about the number of wineries in California.

Posted February 2013