There are many well-known women winemakers in America (Heidi Barrett, Mia Klein, Helen Turley, Zelma Long, Morgan Clendenen to name a few).

So it would seem as if the so-called glass ceiling had been pretty well broken, oenologically speaking.

Alas, it turns out to be more perception than fact.

According to a comprehensive and fascinating new website:,  less than 10 percent of the winemakers in California are women.

The website is a non-profit endeavor created by Dr. Lucia Albino Gilbert, Professor of Psychology and Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University.

It’s the result of Dr. Gilbert’s research efforts, which involved talking to winery personnel and faculty at universities with winemaking programs and making use of the winery index published by Wines & Vines and a variety of wine books.

Dr. Gilbert is an academic psychologist with an interest in women’s career paths, particularly in male-dominated fields. She was interested in testing the widely-held belief that 15-20 percent of the state’s winemakers are women.

It turned out that Southern California had as few as 4 percent female winemakers, while Napa and Sonoma led with the biggest numbers of 12.2 and 12.4 respectively. is an easily searchable site; you can search by the winemaker’s first or last name or by the name of the winery.

This last option is particularly revealing. I entered quite a few winery names just to see if they had ever had a woman at the helm and received the message “No Results” in return. It seemed like a pretty clear – if unscientific – way of telling Dr. Gilbert was on to something.

I hope when Dr. Gilbert has a bit more time on her hands — or maybe a few dozen more research assistants –  she’ll create a website to track women winemakers in the other 49 states. [WSJ]

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