To celebrate women’s history month, I’d like to focus on a few that have shaped my palate over the past decade. In my time in the hospitality industry in stints as a restaurant manager, bar manager and beverage director, the following list has left a lasting impression on me of incredible wines at a wide range of price points. Whether stocking your own personal wine rack or searching for new wine features on a menu, these additions speak for themselves while also celebrating talented women leaders in winemaking.
No affiliate links, no paid promotion, just the genuine appreciation of wine and the talent behind it.
Mendoza, Argentina has been a recent target for a new wave of European immigrants, bringing with them their knowledge in winemaking. Anne Bousquet, CEO and co-founder of Domaine Bousquet, is no exception, bringing her family’s experience from southern France to the region. Their Malbec is a wonderful and affordable example of the marriage between old-world and new-world winemaking; unoaked to showcase fruit-forwardness, medium acidity, and elegant tannins. Decanting or using an aerator will dramatically enhance these notes.
Sandra Tavares brings a well educated approach to winemaking having earned a master’s in enology in Italy, and bringing that knowledge back to the rich history of winemaking in Portugal. She has expressed a preference to creating white wines, since terroir is better expressed than with reds. Portugal can often be overlooked in the North American markets, but it’s having Atlantic and Mediterranean climates leads to unique palettes that are not easy to replicate in other appellations. In an area famous for Port wines, Vinha do Altar Reserva brings a crisp green apple, lemon and mineral palate that lends itself well to Portuguese cuisine staples of fish, shellfish and cured meats.
Jamie Benziger grew up in the wine industry and as a second generation winemaker, took any opportunity she could to further her knowledge in winemaking. Since taking over Imagery Estate Winery in 2017, she’s continued her family tradition of bringing traditional varietals with a twist. Imagery’s Sangiovese is a California wine-country example of an Italian varietal that features wonderful notes of cherry, mulberry and tobacco-ey oak. This Sangiovese manages to bring moderate body to a grape that lends itself to lighter, high acidity wines. If the name Benziger is familiar, be sure to check out sister winery Benziger Family Winery headed by director of winemaker Lisa Amaroli.
Rebecca is a first generation winemaker, expanding upon her family’s history of Australian sheep and cattle farming to the Australian wine boom. The Tamar Valley of Tasmania has a similar in terroir to northeast France, specifically Champagne, and lends well to similar grape varieties. As a result, Tasmania produces some exquisite bubbly, silky pinot noirs, and identifiable whites. The mineral-driven and dry, yet moderately soft palate of this Pinot Gris is strongly reminiscent of coastal Spanish Albariño.
As the most expensive bottle on this short list, Domaine Serene’s Evenstad Reserve Pinot Noir is a formidable example of the unmistakable quality of Pinot Noir produced in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. At the helm of this winery founded in 1989 is Grace Evenstad and husband Ken. Considered to be pioneers of Oregon’s luxury wine industry, Domaine Serene has received numerous accolades and recognition as an outstanding Pinot Noir. While it is common for old-world wineries to expand to new-world territories, Domaine Serene has taken the opposite approach and recently expanded their operations to Burgundy, France.
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