March is Women’s History Month and all across the globe women come together on March 8th to celebrate International Women’s Day. Let us take this very special day to celebrate the tremendous efforts of women around the world in shaping the future of wine. Women are at the forefront of winemaking and the next generation of women in wine are making huge impacts and strides.
Today, raise a glass to these four inspiring women in wine who lead by inspiration and innovation in a world that is predominantly male-dominated. I was invited to participate in a panel discussion and wine tasting with these four incredible women in wine; Dr. Laura Catena (Bodegas CARO), Anne Trimbach (Trimbach), Laure Colombo (Jean-Luc Colombo), and Alessia Collauto (Travaglini). All four women come from families that have made a significant contribution to the world of wine. Now they are the next generation to make an impact and difference for women in the wine industry.
Dr. Laura Catena
Bodegas Catena Zapata & Bodegas CARO
Dr. Laura Catena is a fourth-generation Argentine vintner, best known as the most dynamic face in the Argentine wine industry. Laura spent her childhood in the vineyards with her grandfather. She went on to do her undergraduate from Harvard University and earned her medical degree at Stamford University. In 1995 she joined her father Nicolás Catena Zapata in their family winery. Today Laura is the proprietor of Bodegas CARO and managing director of Bodega Catena Zapata. In addition to those prominent roles, Laura is also an emergency medicine physician, as well as the author of two books.
Laura is dedicated to supporting women in her businesses and has promoted a culture of equality and equal opportunity for all women. She is very positive about the future of women in winemaking.
The story of Bodegas CARO begins in 1999 with the union of two legendary wine families, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and Nicolás Catena. The families came together with one vision, to create a world-class wine that would combine French and Argentine culture. The wine would represent the two signature grapes that represented each family, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The 2017 CARO is extremely special because it is only produced in good vintages. CARO has a strong Argentinian identity, characterized by the Malbec grape, which is given further elegance and complexity with a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon. The combination produces a voluptuous, refined wine with a harmonious balance between the wine’s Argentinian identity and its Bordeaux style.
Cornas, Northern Rhone, France
Laure grew up in the small village of Cornas where the vineyards were her playground. As a teenager, she wanted to escape the small village and go somewhere far away, to a big city like New York. Growing up she had no desire to work in the family winery. She traveled the world and worked for Disney World Epcot Food & Wine Festival and also worked at the prestigious champagne house of Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon. Her extensive travels took her to India to work with Grover Vineyards. During her travels, she began to understand and appreciate the significance of Cornas and the unique terroir that was her home.
Laure returned to France where she interned at Château Haut-Brion while working on her bachelor’s degree in Bordeaux. She then received a master’s degree in Oenology from the University of Montpellier. Laure returned home in 2010 to join her family winery. In 2014, she created her own Domaine in the Appellation of Saint Péray, Domaine de Lorient.
Saint Peray is a small appellation close to Cornas. Laure says if you were tasting with her father you would have tasted a Cornas, but for her, Saint Peray is very important. Jean-Luc Colombo for the past 30 years has been a big advocate of Cornas and helped bring awareness and prestige to the region. Like her father, she is trying to do the same for Saint Peray which is relatively unknown. The wine is produced from a single vineyard of old vines that are co-planted with Rousanne and Marsanne, where they are harvested and vinified together. On the nose, there are aromas of juniper, hazelnuts, and bright fruit. The palate is rich and full-bodied with notes of citrus, vanilla, and dried fruits.
Gattinara, Piedmonte, Italy
Alessia is the fourth generation of the Travaglini family involved in the family wine-making business. Travaglini is a renowned producer of boutique wines made in the small appellation of Gattinara in northern Italy. Alessia always knew she wanted to be a winemaker. Having studied economics in college, Alessia wants to focus on the business side of winemaking. She became a certified sommelier in 2017 and worked in prominent restaurants in Italy. Her restaurant experience was invaluable because she learned to present a wide range of wines to her customers. Talking about wines helped her communication skills, where she learned the art of telling stories about wineries and winemaking.
Women have always played a large role in Travaglini, something which Alessia is very proud of. Her grandmother was in charge of many aspects of winemaking from the vineyards to the cellars. While acknowledging that it has been difficult for women in the past to enter the wine industry, Alessia sees a bright future for women going forward.
Travaglini produces exceptional small production Nebbiolos in the small and historic region of Gattinara. Giancarlo Travaglini played a pioneering role in reviving the region in the late 1950s. This wine is one of the best expressions of Nebbiolo from Gattinara. Gattinara spans four different hills, each with its own specificities in terms of exposure, soils, age of vines, and altitude. . The Travaglini Gattinara is a blend of all four hills. A highly expressive wine with delicate floral perfumes, it has great complexity, elegance, and minerality. A uniquely shaped bottle was designed by Alessia’s grandfather in 1958 so that the sediments could stay in the belly of the bottle.
Anne is the thirteenth generation of the Trimbach family to make wine in Alsace, with roots that go back to 1626. She is the first woman in her family to be the face of the company, spreading the Trimbach brand across the globe. Early on, Anne spent time studying in Stroudsburg, Burgundy, and Copenhagen. In 2008, Anne returned to Alsace to learn how to make wine and become Trimbach’s ambassador. Trimbach’s social media presence is highly regarded in the industry. It is innovative and creative, thanks to the efforts of Anne.
Anne shared stories about how it was hard for her as a woman to enter the wine world, even with her own family members. Her great uncle expressed doubts about her ability to handle the winery and raise a family at the same time. With this sentiment, Anne became even more dedicated to her work, and today she is the first female in the family to be the face of Trimbach.
Trimbach Reserve is a wine that the family has been producing for close to 50 years. It is the result of a rigorous selection from mostly old vineyards in Ribeauvillé and the surrounding villages. Grown on marl and limestone soils, the wine has freshness and beautiful minerality. This is a quintessential Alsace Riesling that is dry, crisp, and fresh with lingering acidity.