Cheers to Her!
A celebration of women winemakers
- CategoryEat & Drink
- Written byBonnie Graves
Photographed by Shane O’Donnell
Here’s a collection of amazing women who are simultaneously smashing grapes and glass ceilings. Each works with unique terroir and material to produce exquisite wines. From tangy, saline albariño to complex and brooding blends, the wines below reflect a full spectrum of varietal variety. Each deserves a spot on your table or in your cellar.
Verdad Albariño, Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard
(Edna Valley, CA–2015), SRP $22
Winemaker Louisa Sawyer Lindquist channels the green shores of Rias Baixas with her gorgeous interpretation of albariño, grown biodynamically in the Edna Valley. Pair with moules-frites or any fish-based stew.
(Sonoma Coast, CA–2013), SRP $34
With a pedigree that includes a formative stint at Peter Michael, winemaker Vanessa Wong is a master of chardonnay. Her deft touch balances ripe Sonoma fruit with Burgundian restraint. Should cost three times as much.
Farmstrong, Field Rosé
(Redwood Valley, CA–2015), SRP $24
I tasted through nearly 150 pink wines for a client recently, and this wine sang out to me. Faith Armstrong’s juicy spin on carignan is endlessly refreshing, with ripe watermelon, strawberry leaf and clover notes. Pair with sunshine and blue skies.
Antica Terra Pinot Noir, Antikythera
(Eola-Amity Hills, OR–2013), SRP $145
She’d never say it, so I will: Winemaker Maggie Harrison may well be America’s finest producer of pinot noir. A Santa Barbara local who fell in love with some rocks in Oregon, Maggie’s hallmark is nuance and depth. Take the time to decipher the aromatics of this remarkable wine before indulging in a taste. Pair with lamb loin, fines herbes and lavender.
Buttonwood Cabernet Franc
(Santa Ynez, CA–2012), SRP $26
Santa Ynez is the sunny side of winemaking in Santa Barbara County, and Karen Steinwachs’ work with Bordelaise varieties proves again that it ain’t just about pinot. Her cabernet franc is redolent of blueberry, tobacco and cedar. Pair with Santa Maria tri-tip fired over the grill.
(El Dorado, CA–2013), SRP $70
When crowdsourcing ideas for this piece amidst sommelier friends, Helen Keplinger’s name was mentioned more than anyone else’s. Her 2013 Caldera is an intense blend of old-vine mourvèdre, grenache and counoise, grown on red volcanic slopes in the Sierra Foothills. You don’t have to be an expert to taste the profound impact of soil in this outstanding wine.
That’s the thing about assumptions; when one assumes, one often is wrong and taking the time to investigate for one’s self is always better than pre-judging. This is as true for restaurants as it is for people, and I am happy to report that our family’s dinner at Carbon Beach was one of the loveliest I have enjoyed in a long time. From the valet’s kindness in helping us with Baby when we pulled up to being greeted by name by the attentive maitre d’ to the unbelievably good children’s menu they offered without request, I was astounded by the warmth and service standards of this restaurant. There wasn’t a whiff of snootiness or pretension in the air at Billionaire’s Beach, just the soft tang of the Pacific and a few gulls flying overhead.