27 Feb Women and Wine
There’s no denying that Tuscany is famous for its wine making traditions, with the popular Chianti Classico tracing its roots back to at least the 13th Century. With such a significant history, you would be forgiven for thinking that the industry would be very resistant to change. However over the past few decades, in addition to embracing new techniques, there has been another remarkable change: women have begun to take charge in running the vineyards and wine production. This rise in women in leading positions in the industry is particularly interesting when you consider how winemaking was once very much a male dominated industry, with sons inheriting the family business generation after generation largely on the basis that the job required physical strength.
In fact, one of our favourite local wineries, the prestigious Marchese Antinori Srl, founded in 1385 and producer of some of the best Tuscan wines including Tignanello and Solaia, has seen three sisters, Albiera, Allegra, and Alessia (pictured) taking a significant role in the family business, breaking a 600 year tradition. The sisters are involved in expanding the business – in addition to Italy the family have growing estates in the US, Hungary, Romania, Chile and Malta as well as branching into the food business with their Cantinetta restaurants.
The Antinori sisters are far from alone in this. Indeed an organisation has been formed in Italy called Le Donne Del Vino (meaning Women of Wine) to bring together leading female wine makers across the country. The Association is hosting its first event on 4 March 2017, which will bring together women from the winery, wine distributers & restaurant sectors. They are doing this because they recognise women’s growing role in the business of wine: Le Donne del Vino reports that in Italy women are engaged throughout the process- they make up 35% of the agricultural workforce, 28% of wine estates are owned by women and 10% are in CEO positions.
In addition women are increasingly involved in the buying of wine: in 2014 The Financial Times reported that women constitute 59% of regular wine purchasers in the US, and that roughly 7 out of every 10 bottles purchased in the UK are bought by a woman. In 2016 47% of all global on-line wine sales were made by women.
Allegra Antinori is quick to expand upon this trend, suggesting that “wine is emotional, not rational”, and that women are frequently better at picking out the subtle differences between wines – noting fragrance, colour and complexity. They are also increasingly confident in taking on this role – historically a specialism dominated by male sommeliers or wine industry experts.
We applaud this development and will keenly watch and champion how female winemakers continue to develop new and innovative ways of growing, producing and marketing the wines of our area.
Should you be in Tuscany then the Antinori wine estate in Chianti is absolutely worth a visit. Its sleek architectural lines, high tech structures, integrated wine museum, cantina and restaurants make for a hugely pleasurable and modern wine experience.