In a male-dominated industry, there are still women winemakers who are exceeding expectations.
In a study about women winemakers in California, it was shown that 10% of the 4,000+ wineries in the state are spearheaded by a woman winemaker. Historically, women usually only became winemakers when their spouses died and they had to take over the business. The first recognized woman winemaker in California was Hannah Weinberger from Napa Valley in 1882, followed by Josephine Tychson. These two women took over their spouses’ wineries upon their deaths.
But during the 1960s, things began to change for women winemakers. The first woman winemaker in the modern era was Mary Ann Graf who pioneered the reemergence of women in the wine industry. From then on, many women have started to make names for themselves.
The same study has shown that the Napa Valley region has the highest percentage of women winemakers in the whole state of California with 14%. As time goes by, the number is increasing which only shows that gender is not a defining factor in the winemaking industry.
The Napa Valley region is one of the most famous wine regions. Many wineries are located in the area that offer different varieties of wine. There are also a lot of women winemakers and winery owners that have already become household names. These trailblazers have produced high quality wines which made waves among wine enthusiasts.
Some notable women winemakers in Napa are Helen Keplinger of Keplinger Wines, Kathryn Walt Hall of Hall Wines, Stephanie Putnam of Raymond Vineyards, Nicole Hitchcock of J Vineyards & Winery, and Jamie Dowell of Round Pound. But there is one other female winemaker in Napa who is well-respected by wine enthusiasts and her name is Heidi P. Barrett.
Heidi P. Barrett is arguably one of the most celebrated and in-demand winemakers today. She is known for her cult wines, thus earning her the titles of “The Wine Diva of Napa Valley” and “The Diva of Cult Wine.” Winemaking had always been in her blood as her father, Dick Peterson, was a renowned winemaker and her artistic techniques came from her artist mother, Diane. Her degree in Fermentation Science at UC Davis also aided in her knowledge of winemaking.
Heidi started working at Buehler Vineyards at age 25 where she garnered attention for improving their wines. After five years, she became an independent winemaker and became a consultant for Dalla Valle Vineyards where she earned her first two 100-point scores from Robert Parker for her Cabernet blend cult wine, “Maya”.
Her next big achievement in her career was when she crafted another Cabernet blend for Screaming Eagle which earned her another two 100-point scores for her 1992 and 1997 vintages. In the 2000 Napa Valley Wine Auction, Barrett’s 6-liter 1992 Screaming Eagle Cabernet set the record of highest price paid for a single wine at $500,000 which also had a vertical offering for $650,000 in the following year.
Since then, Heidi had worked for multiple wineries such as Amuse Bouche, Paradigm Winery, Revana Family, Jones Family Vineyards, Barbour Vineyards, and Lamborn Family. She also has her own label, “La Sirena” and “Barrett and Barrett”.
In 2008, Heidi started working for Fantesca Estate & Winery. For Fantesca, she has crafted her only Chardonnay and also her only Spring Mountain Cabernet, “Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.” These offerings were carefully crafted and laced with her own artistry which make them unique. She has also produced a red blend called “All Great Things.”
Throughout all the years of her winemaking, Heidi has already mastered her techniques which set apart her wines from others. Although largely known for her Cabernets, she only proved she could stand out in others, too.