Are Women Winemakers More Successful Than Men?

Freeman Winery

Freeman Winery, listed in Opus Vino, home of winemaker Akiko Freeman

Are women winemakers more successful than men?  That’s what Drs. Lucia Albino Gilbert and John Carl Gilbert from Santa Clara University conducted a study to find out, and their results were posted in July.

Back in 2011, the Drs. Gilbert developed a comprehensive database of California winemakers to assess how many California wineries had women as the main or lead winemaker.  The resulting number (about 9.8%) was significantly lower than the 15-20% answer that had been expected.  We wrote about that study earlier this year, and you can see that here.

This year, the Drs. Gilbert have attempted to address the discrepancy between the perceived percentage of women winemakers and the actual figure.  Their hypothesis was that while California wineries with women winemakers are fewer in number compared to their male counterparts, the wines produced from wineries having women winemakers are more highly acclaimed than the wines from their male peers.

Obviously, a key component of this idea is how to define “acclaimed.”  In a world filled with subjective opinions about what makes a wine “good,” the Drs. Gilbert needed an assessment of high wine quality that would be considered collective, reliable and justifiable.

Their solution was to use Opus Vino, a major work published by DK Publishing last year.  The book was authored by wine critics and writers who worked as a team with the volume’s editor-in-chief, Jim Gordon, former managing editor of the Wine Spectator and current editor of Wines and Vines magazine.  Opus Vino includes a total of over 4000 wineries throughout the world.  Selections for inclusion were based on an accumulation of experiences with wineries in a particular wine region and tasting notes from over a period of years.

The conclusion of the study from Santa Clara University was yes, wineries with women winemakers in California are more highly acclaimed than wineries with male winemakers.  Specifically, about 23% of the California wineries with women winemakers were listed in Opus Vino as compared to about 14% of wineries with male winemakers.


Inman Family Wines

Inman Family Wines, listed in Opus Vino, home of winemaker Kathleen Inman

The study also identified geographical differences across the state.  For example, in the Central Coast region, male winemakers were more successful than female winemakers.  However, women winemakers were notably more successful than their male counterparts in regions such as Napa, Sonoma/Marin, and Mendocino/Lake.

For more details, and to read the entire study, please go here to see the study “Evidence of Women Winemakers’ Success in a Male-Dominated Field.”   You can also go here to access the database of Women Winemakers in California created by the Drs. Gilbert.


(Study © 2012 Lucia Albino Gilbert, Ph.D..  All Rights Reserved.  Study cited and quoted with permission from Dr. Gilbert.)



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