Food & Drink

6 top drops by female winemakers to toast International Women’s Day

Raise a glass to women in wine, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Inspire Inclusion
Woman cutting grapes from vine during harvest The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Inspire Inclusion (Ammentorp Photography / Alamy St/Alamy Stock Photo)

With #InspireInclusion the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (March 8), we’re raising a glass to women who’ve forged a career in the world of wine.

Especially with more and more women making their mark in a historically male-dominated industry – from studying viticulture and oenology, to wine marketing and sales – and influencing and shaping the way we drink.

“We defy convention by embracing diversity and experimentation in winemaking at The Prisoner Wine Company,” says Chrissy Wittmann, senior director of winemaking. “We focus on balance and integration, crafting blends that highlight each varietal’s best qualities rather than being restricted by tradition.”

“As a woman in this industry, I believe this approach should extend to diversity and inclusion efforts – with an open mind, a willingness to challenge norms, and a commitment to excellence.”

International Women’s Day serves as a reminder of the progress we’ve made, says Wittmann, and the work that still lies ahead for women in the wine industry.

With a wealth of winemaking talent to be discovered, we’ve plucked these standout labels by Wittmann and other leading ladies…

1. Amandla Shiraz Zinfandel 2022, Western Cape, South Africa, £9.50, Tesco

Amandla Shiraz - Zinfandel 2022, Western Cape, South Africa, Tesco

Praisy Dlamini’s brilliantly blended shiraz zinfandel pushes all the right buttons with its smooth, silky palate, delicious concentration and beautifully expressive, ripe blackberry fruits, soft spice and juicy, fresh finish. Amandla translates to power, and this wine over-delivers for its price.

2. Cecchi ‘Governo All’uso Toscano 2021, Tuscany, Italy, £11.99 (£9.99 Mix Six), Majestic

Cecchi ‘Governo All’uso Toscano 2021, Tuscany, Italy, Majestic

With a beautiful bouquet and lovely rich fruit on the nose, Miria Bracali’s sangiovese hints at the gorgeousness to come. A rhapsody of red cherries, cranberries and plummy fruit overlaid with herbs, savoury notes and hints of dried flowers lingering on the finish. A generous crowd pleaser.

3. Wynns Coonawarra Estate Chardonnay 2022, Australia, £14.99, (£10.99 Mix Six), Majestic

(Peter Tomey)

Everything glides along exquisitely in the hands of Sue Hodder who’s been at the helm of Wynns Coonawarra Estate for more than 30 years – and one of Australia’s best-known winemakers. Enticingly fresh and youthful with lifted tropical fruits on the nose, hints of honeysuckle, peach and nectarine, similar stone fruit flavours unfold on the palate with soft acidity, length and finesse.

4. Susana Balbo Signature Brioso 2019, Mendoza, Argentina, £24, The Wine Society

Susana Balbo Signature Brioso 2019, Mendoza, Argentina,The Wine Society

One of the most influential winemakers in Argentina if not the most, Susana Balbo’s broad-shouldered Brioso is a wine to swoon over. Cabernet sauvignon dominant with a liberal splash of malbec and cabernet franc, brambly fruits abound on the velvety smooth palate with waves of blackcurrant, violet, cassis, hint of cedar and lick of vanilla on the long, impressive finish.

5. M&S Delacourt Champagne Brut, France, £24, Ocado

M&S Delacourt Champagne Brut, France, Ocado

Champagne has always had its divas… Lily Bollinger and Madame Clicquot come to mind, and Carine Bailleul is the woman behind these brilliant bubbles.

Sue Daniels, expert winemaker at M&S Food, says: “We’re particularly proud to work with a number of brilliant women at wineries around the world.

“One of my favourites has to be our exceptional value Delacourt champagne which is produced by Carine Bailleul, Chef de Caves at Champagne Castelnau, who has blended best-in-class wines for 20 years.”

A classic champagne blend that embodies sophistication – there’s brioche, nuts and vanilla on the nose, lovely complexity with orchard fruit flavours on the palate, and enticing creamy texture with plenty of freshness on the long finish.

6. The Prisoner Wine Co Chardonnay 2021, California, USA, £42, VINVM

The Prisoner Wine Co Chardonnay 2021, California, USA,VINM

Napa Valley is a treasure trove of top-scoring chardonnay and Chrissy Wittmann’s cult label promises to live up to expectation. Made in a similar style to The Prisoner red blend – rich and full bodied – classic notes of vanilla, pineapple and honeydew melon draw you in; the palate impresses with a wonderful creamy texture, touches of baked apple, crème brûlée, toasty oak with balanced acidity on the lengthy finish. Class in a glass and a stunning expression.