This week women have been the centre of attention with International Women’s Day on the 8th of March. Three days earlier however, a similar and unique event took place in Tuscany; the Festival of Italian “Women of Wine” was held for the first time to highlight the role women play in the wine sector. Women in Italy increasingly love wine and not just as consumers but also as producers. 41% of Italian wine consumers are women and on the production side female entrepreneurs count for more than 30% of the producers. In the professional sommelier world women have exceeded the 40% mark.
It’s fascinating and interesting to point out how many women from different backgrounds have chosen the hard work and sweat required to produce wine. Not all women who choose to become winemakers come from a winemaking family either, some of them do but there are many who have decided to do so later on during their lives because of a passion and love for wine; to make a change and start from zero. To learn the noble art of winemaking.
A choice to go back to work the land is perhaps above all a choice of values which are different from those prevailing in today’s society. It’s a choice for the kind of freedom which still has tough rules and teaches you to be more determined in your dreams, because success won’t come cheap. The four women below took that risk and persevered, running companies and producing wines to be proud of.
Nicoletta Bocca, San Fereolo
Nicoletta Bocca came from Milan and had a passion for wine. In the early 90s she decided to move to Dogliani in Piedmont to start the San Fereolo winery. She knew nothing about the countryside, about growing grapes or about farming. Luckily, she could learn from her neighbour who had been a vine grower his entire life. Gradually as she learned the work, she tried to find a correspondence between her character and what she did, and tried to give depth and meaning to the phrase “wines with personality”.
Matilde Poggi, Le Fraghe
The owner of Le Fraghe, Matilde Poggi, has always been fascinated by the land marked by the changing of the seasons and her desire slowly grew to become part of it, to contribute to it, to learn how to listen to the vineyard and to bring forth from them her own wines. She had no ready-made furrow, and so she was able to experiment with grape varieties, training methods, and blends to create her own varieties, free from convention. Her wines were certainly appreciated, as can be seen from the 28 hectares of vineyards she currently owns.
Bandita, Cascina ‘Tavijn
Nadia Verrua is a fourth generation winemaker at Cascina ‘Tavijn, but her parents did not want her to follow into their footsteps. They wanted her to study and work in a different field, but she chose for wine regardless. The family came from rural Verrua Fenoglio where the winemaking was unrefined and only resulted in simple table wines. Nadia had the desire to create quality wines. Wines with personality that represented the indigenous grapes of her land and to restore dignity in the art of winemaking. She believed in natural authentic wines and started to convert the vineyards into organically operated ones. A move which has been very well received as her Barbera d’Asti is currently one of Vino Nostrum’s most sold wines.
Sara and Luca Carbone, Carbone Vini
Sara Carbone spent her childhood and adolescence at the foot of the Vulture volcano surrounded by vineyards. She studied in Rome, got a degree in sociology and moved on to an MBA. She dedicated herself to business & administration; a world far from the countryside and the vineyards.
But after she had been working first in England and then in Italy in the world made of social climbing, contracts and business, Sara realised that it was not for her. Her brother Luca convinced her to drop everything and to return to Basilicata in the vineyards. The year 2005 marked the first vintage of their wines. In winemaking Sara found a way to express her creativity. Working in the vineyard and in the cellar, to improve the taste and to make wine that tasted of her land, the land of the volcano.