Friday, August 19, 2011

New website on Women Winemakers

A new website, http://womenwinemakers.com, has been launched, presenting a comprehensive directory of women winemakers and research data which answers, for the first time, the question of how many California wineries have women winemakers. The site is the creation of Dr. Lucia Albino Gilbert, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University, and her husband, John Gilbert, Ph.D., also a professor there. “Our searchable web-based resource introduces users to California’s talented women winemakers and their accomplishments,” said Dr. Lucia Gilbert, the lead investigator on this project. “We also provide the most comprehensive and accurate information currently available on women winemakers in California, the wineries where they craft their wine, and the evolution of their careers.”

The non-profit undertaking is educational in its focus and dynamic, in that it will be continually updated. “I am delighted about the launch of the Women Winemakers Website,” said Zelma Long, one of America’s best-known winemakers and partner for the Vilafont√© project in South Africa. “It will highlight the contributions of the many women making wine; provide accurate, scholarly information about their participation in the industry; and, I hope, increase their networks and help them focus on their career paths in wine.” Sabrine Rodems, Winemaker, Wrath Wines spoke to the enhanced visibility the website brings: “Being down in Monterey where the wineries are so spread out, it is nice to have a resource where I can go to find other winemakers for advice and support; for the public, it is nice for others writing or reading about wine to see and search all the women out there making wine—it gives us a place to stand out.”

Creating the databaseDeveloping the comprehensive list of women winemakers in California was a challenging task. It was accomplished by using the index of more than 3,200 wineries supplied in the Wines & Vines Directory, visiting the websites of the wineries, talking to personnel in tasting rooms throughout the state, referring to books featuring wineries and winemakers, and talking to faculty members at the universities that have programs in oenology and viticulture. “I believe that it is the most complete list of California women winemakers in existence,” claimed Gilbert.

The study indicates the glass ceiling has not yet been shattered—only 9.8 percent of California wineries have a woman winemaker as its lead or primary winemakerAn academic psychologist, Gilbert has long studied women’s career paths, especially in the context of dual-career families and work and family life. She has also studied women’s careers in male-dominated fields. A key purpose of developing the database was to test the hypothesis that women constitute 15–20 percent of the winemakers, a widely purported percentage, even though no comprehensive list of women winemakers was available to support the assumption. The results of her study indicate that the percentage of women overall is below this range, although women in the more prominent wine regions of Napa and Sonoma appear to be making greater progress in this regard. “Using our research, we coded whether a winery’s main winemaker was a female, male, or a female-male co-winemaking team. We were able to obtain sufficient information to code the sex of the winemaker for 97 percent of the more than 3,200 wineries, omitting co-winemaking teams. A winery’s wine region was also coded,” explained Gilbert.

“The theoretical underpinnings of the study were derived from gender theory,” she continued. “We hypothesized that the visibility and cult status of a few highly acclaimed women winemakers have resulted in the perception that there are far more wineries with women winemakers than there actually are.” The study results, published on the website, found that 9.8 percent of California wineries have a woman winemaker, differing significantly from the lower end of the widely held estimate. The percentage of wineries with women winemakers for the various regions ranged from 4.7 percent to 12.4 percent, with Sonoma/Marin and Napa having the highest percentages of 12.4 and 12.2 percent, respectively.

Women Winemakers Website assists women in their winemaking careersIn the 1970s, few female students were enrolled in California university programs for winemaking. By the 1990s, that number had increased to approximately half, and continues at that level today. “Although women are making inroads in careers as winemakers, our research shows there is still a need to encourage women to enter the field and to provide the mentoring and support needed to facilitate career success,” said Gilbert. She is currently developing a taxonomy, for the website, of the career pathways of 75 women winemakers across the state and is also planning to write a book that describes the various pathways, with specific illustrations of individual women.

“Lucia Gilbert’s ambitious project has turned into an exciting website that offers so much information,” said MaryAnn Graf, California’s first woman winemaker and former co-owner of Vinquiry. Dr. Hildegarde Heymann, Professor/Enologist in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology, concurred: “It is a great idea to have the information accessible,” she said. “Through the site, I plan to reconnect with many women with whom I have lost contact.” Graf sees the site as being useful to both men and women. “The chance to have an up-to-date list of women winemakers, their philosophies, where they worked, and how to contact them is priceless,” she said. “Women wine professionals of the future will be able to read a history and be encouraged by these winemakers’ paths. We all follow different paths.”

For more information:  www.womenwinemakers.com

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