A Look to California's Newer Wineries for Evidence of Women Winemakers' Progress in a Male-Dominated Field

Lucia Albino Gilbert, Ph.D. & John Carl Gilbert, Ph.D., Santa Clara University

Our first study, "How Many Women," showed that only 9.8% of California's 3200+ wineries have lead woman winemakers. "Evidence of Success," the second study (2012), indicated that despite their small numbers in the industry, the wines produced from CA wineries having lead women winemakers are more highly acclaimed, proportional to their representation in the field, than wines produced by their male counterparts.

The wine industry in California continues to grow, making possible a study of wineries established since our first study in 2011, and whether winemaker acclaim can matter.

The study's hypothesis: The current study considers whether any progress toward "breaking the glass ceiling" has occurred among newer wineries in those wine regions with significantly higher women winemaker acclaim. It was hypothesized that the percentage of women appointed as lead winemakers among newer wineries in these regions would be greater than the percentage among the more established wineries.

Which wineries and wine regions were studied?: We compared the recently established and already established wineries in the three California wine regions in which women winemakers were shown to have had significantly higher acclaim in Study 2. These regions were Napa, Sonoma/Marin, and Mendocino/Lake. Of the total number of 386 wineries established since our first study in 2011, approximately half (195) were located in one of these three wine regions.

Was there evidence that women winemaker acclaim was associated with an increase in their presence as lead winemakers in these selected wine regions? According to our findings, yes, there is an association. The percentage of women in lead winemaking roles was significantly higher in the newly established wineries (18.6%) than in those wineries that already were established (11.0%). The chi-square calculated was significant at the p = 0.03 level, thereby providing support for our hypothesis.

Does wine region matter? The percentage of wineries with women winemakers varied by wine region. As can be seen from the bar graph above, increased percentages of women winemakers were evident for Sonoma/Marin, and especially for Mendocino/Lake, which is a relatively small wine region. However, the percentage for Napa, the most well-known California wine region, remained constant at approximately 12%. (The percentage of lead women winemakers for the other five regions in the state also remained constant and averaged 9.5%. Across all wine regions the percentage increase from 2011 was not statistically significant.)

How we gathered our data. The established winery data were derived from the comprehensive database we developed in our first study, which is regularly updated. The official listing provided by Wines and Vines (http://www.winesandvines.com/) identified 386 wineries established since December 2010. Following the same coding procedure as in the first study, we gathered information from winery websites and calls/visits to wineries to develop the database of these newer wineries and their lead winemakers. Using this information, we coded whether a winery's lead winemaker was a female or a male or a female/male co-winemaking team. Approximately half of these newly established wineries were located in the Napa (96), Sonoma/Marin (84), or Mendocino/Lake (15) wine regions.

Conclusion. Winemaking remains a male-dominated field but progress is slowly but surely taking place. This study provides preliminary evidence associating women winemaker acclaim with an increase in their presence as lead winemakers in selected wine regions. More data are clearly needed before drawing conclusions.

The largest percentage increase in the proportion of women winemakers was in a relatively small wine area, Mendocino/Lake, and this may not be a representative finding. More time may be needed to evidence significant change in the other two wine regions in which winemakers who are women have received a good deal of acclaim.

Overall there was little evidence for change in other wine areas. The percentage of lead women winemakers for the other five regions in the state remained constant and averaged only 9.5%. Moreover, across all wine regions the percentage increase from 2011 was not statistically significant. Our next steps are to provide a more robust test of the study's hypothesis and to continue to track the small but incremental positive progress being made by winemakers in California who are women.

For permission to cite or quote, please contact: LGilbert@scu.edu.

Lucia Albino Gilbert is in the Department of Psychology, and John Carl Gilbert, Ph.D. in the Department of Chemistry& Biochemistry at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA 95053.

Note: Portions of this paper were presented at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, San Francisco, CA, May 2014.

Go to http://webpages.scu.edu/womenwinemakers/howmany.php for a summary of our first study, "How Many Women."

Go to http://webpages.scu.edu/womenwinemakers/evidence.php for a summary of our second study, "Evidence of Success."

Posted: December 2014