International Women’s Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate the amazing women in wine. The wine trade is often highlighted for being a male-dominated industry, but with times changing over the last few years it presents us with an opportunity to showcase the women behind some of our amazing wines.
Rita Marques – Conceito Vinhos, Douro, Portugal
Rita trained as a mechanical engineer, but soon became disillusioned and opted for a life of wine instead. She retrained in oenology and worked several vintages around the world, including a vintage under Dirk Niepoort. Having taken over the family vineyards in the Douro she makes wines that truly express the terroir of this amazing region.
Susana Esteban – Susana Esteban Wines, Alentejo, Portugal
Originally from Galicia, she trained as a winemaker in Rioja. She then did a vinatge in the Douro and was hooked! spending many years in the Douro Valley, she decided to start her own project and came across the vineyards that she now owns in the Alentejo’s lesser known Portalegre area. This adventure and search for her own place is reflected in the wines: ‘Aventura’ and ‘Procura’. Here wines really do convey her sense of adventure and understanding of the special terroir
Maria João Pato – Duckman Wines, Bairrada, Portugal
Daughter of Luis Pato, the ‘King of Bairrada’, Maria João has forged her own path creating the Duckman wines. She uses the classic Bairrada grapes of Baga and Bical, but takes a hands-off, natural approach in the winery. Her wines very much represent her playful character, but don’t be distracted by the antics, these wines are excellent!
Monica Peñas Lopez – Velvety Wines, Ribera del Duero, Spain
Monica leapt at the chance to make wines from her husband’s family’s vineyards. Most of the vineyards are around 45 years old and until recently she has been making wine in a rented winery. That is now changing as she has completed building her own winery in Pesquera de Duero. Her passion for authenticity is reflected in her wines as they truly sing about the region.
Maria João Cerdeira – Quinta do Soalheiro, Minho, Portugal
Soalheiro was established in 1974 in the very northern reaches of the Minho region, overlooking the Minho River on granite soils. Maria João’s integral role at Soalheiro resides in the vineyards rather than the winery. As head of viticulture she is responsible for ensuring that the vineyards are healthy, the grapes ripen, and she is a key part of the decision making when it comes to deciding when to harvest. Alongside her brother Luis, Maria João plays a huge part in why Soalheiro’s wines are so delicious!
Marta Soares – Casal Figuiera, Lisboa, Portugal
Marta is an artist and art teacher who, along with her late husband Antonio, discovered amazing vineyards in the Montejunto hills, north-West of Lisbon. She has continued to make wine in her husband’s memory, naming one of the wines after him. She focusses on the ancient grapes of Vital for white wines and Castelão for red wines. Her wines are a true expression of the grapes along with a heavy coastal influence from the Atlantic.
Liliana Fernandez Perez – El Hato y El Garabato, Arribes, Spain
Liliana owns El Hato y El Garabato with her husband, José. They had previous careers in the forestry industry, but decided ‘to bet it all’ and take on their grandparent’s vineyards, around their hometown of Formariz. The name of their winery comes from a Don Quixote quote, which loosely means ‘to bet it all’. They focus on native grape varieties, and they let the old vines and tiny parcels do the talking, with a minimalist approach in the winemaking.
Mafalda Teixeira – Quinta da Raza, Minho, Portugal
Mafalda has been instrumental in helping her husband, and winemaker, Diogo, develop Quinta da Raza from humble beginnings to being a leading light in the region. Mafalda is Managing director and Head of Sales for Quinta da Raza. Her role in Quinta da Raza’s success cannot be underestimated.
Olga – Lavradores de Feitoria, Douro, Portugal
Lavradores de Feitoria is a collective of 15 growers and quintas that was established in 2000. They are tied together by a philosophy to make high quality wines that represent the Douro Valley. They have also just completed the construction of a brand-new winery in the Cima Corgo. Their recent developments and growth have all been overseen by Olga, the CEO. She has played a key role in the recent successes of the company and their wines.
Enjoy drinking these wonderful wines!