13 Women-Led Wineries and Tasting Rooms to Visit

There are many wineries and tasting rooms around the world, but here are 13 women-led wineries and tasting rooms you need to try.
Women-led wineries, glasses of wine, vineyard

Women are making their mark on the wine industry. From owning and operating wineries to working as winemakers, women are taking on leadership roles in all aspects of the wine business.

If you’re a wine lover, you know. And we women enjoy our glass of wine – whether bold red, fruity white, or some other varietal, and if we need a reason to sip our wine, pick one or all of these National Wine Days.

According to the Beverage Information Group, 52 percent of women prefer wine, compared to 20 percent of men. Women make up 59 percent of wine buyers.

While the United States is the largest wine consumer in the world, in 2023, the total number of wineries producing wine in the United States is only just over 11,000. Of those, 71 large-scale wineries produce over 500,000 cases of wine annually, and 5,700 make less than 1,000 cases each year. Since 2009, wineries have grown by over 50 percent.”

The percentage of women-owned wineries in the United States is on the rise. According to a 2020 study by the American Wine Society, women owned or co-owned 38% of wineries in California and 18% of wineries in Washington State. These numbers are up from 2011 when women owned or co-owned just 25% of wineries in California and 10% in Washington State.

Another survey reports that 17.8% of winemakers are women, and 82.2% are men.

It’s also important to understand the difference between a vineyard and a winery. A vineyard is where grapes are grown, and a winery is where wine is made, although often both are at the same location.

A “tasting room” is literally that – a place to taste wine. Again, they are often found at the vineyard and/or winery but can also be elsewhere. Tasting rooms may also be a place to try different wines, not necessarily affiliated with the winery or vineyard.

In celebration of women and wine, we contacted 13 women-led wineries and women winemakers and asked them to share their journeys, inspiration, and thoughts about wine.

Arizona Wineries & Tasting Room

Arizona boasts more than 120 wineries and tasting rooms. We interviewed two women making a difference in the Arizona wine industry.

Peggy Fiandaca, Owner/General Manager, LDV Winery, Scottsdale, Arizona

Peggy Fiandaca LDV Winery Scottsdale, AZ headshot

As an urban planner for over thirty years, Peggy Fiandaca’s journey to becoming the owner and general manager of LDV Winery in Scottsdale may seem unlikely- until you take a closer look at her roots. The Fiandaca family emigrated from Sicily to an Italian neighborhood in Chicago, and her grandfather, William Hogan, was a well-known Kentucky bootlegger during Prohibition.

In addition to sharing ownership with her husband, Curt Dunham, her primary function is as LDV Winery’s general manager. She is responsible for the winery’s total success, including but not limited to brand management, business operations, marketing, sales, and vineyard/winery operations.

More about LDV Winery

This 14-year-old estate winery creates handcrafted, estate-grown, and produced wines reflecting the unique vineyard characteristics of Southeastern Arizona. LDV focuses on Rhone varieties because they flourish in the volcanic soils of the 5,000-foot-elevation estate in the Chiricahua Mountains foothills. This 40-acre estate currently has 13 acres of vineyard and produces between 3,000 and 4,000 cases of wine annually.

LDV’s winemaking philosophy is to select the perfect vines for their terroir (soil, topography, and climate) and meticulously manage the vineyard so that nature can do its magic with as little intervention as possible.

Located in the heart of Scottsdale’s Old Town entertainment district, the LDV Winery Tasting Room brings a piece of the vineyard to the heart of Scottsdale, the primary retail location.

Making a Difference in the Arizona Wine Industry

She served on the Board of Directors and then as President of the Arizona Wine Growers Association for two terms. Passionate about wine, she served on a legislative committee that worked to change Arizona laws to address the needs of a fast-growing industry.

According to Peggy, “Actively participating in the wine industry has allowed me to make important connections to other winemakers, industry leaders, wine lovers, etc. With these personalized connections, we are collectively making a difference.”

Favorite Wine & Food Pairing

“Wine is a character actor in every Italian family,” says Peggy. “It might be obvious that my favorite food is Italian, particularly Eggplant Parmesan.” She pairs this with a robust Petite Sirah, particularly LDV Winery’s “The Signature” Petite Sirah.

Wine Tip: When pairing, choose the wine first, then create the menu. You can change how you cook your meal, but you cannot change how the wine is made.

“I strive to curate a memorable experience through wine,” says Peggy. “Watching someone taste wine and identify the flavor characteristics for the first time or examine a vine closely with a new appreciation for its role in producing that wine provides great satisfaction. That connection to land, the environment, and LDV customers is what my winemaking journey is all about.”

Jen Sinconis, Co-Owner & Dedicated Wine Drinker, Turquoise Wine Cellar & Tasting Room, Glendale, Arizona

Jen Sinconis (left) Laura Hernandez (Right) Turquoise Wine Cellar Arizona headshot
Jen Sinconis (left) Laura Hernandez (Right) Turquoise Wine Cellar Arizona

The woman-owned and family-run Turquoise Wine Cellar & Tasting Room is new to the Glendale, Arizona, scene, opening in late August 2022. With a career history in creative management, primarily in the coffee industry, Jen Sinconis is Co-Owner and neighbor to Laura Hernandez, an Arizona native with a career in corporate leadership. Both are wine lovers who bring their unique experiences and skills to creating their community wine bar.

Jen moved to Arizona from Seattle in 2020. She reports that she had access to hundreds of local tasting rooms in Seattle. She was shocked to learn that there were no tasting rooms in the West Valley and limited access to small-lot boutique wines worldwide.

One night over wine (several bottles, she says), the two of them hatched a plan for Turquoise Wine Bar & Tasting Room, realizing the need for a neighborhood wine shop that features amazing sustainably farmed wines from around the world.

Jen says, “We love farming and the integrity that goes into creating a fabulous wine where the earth, community, and bottle are equally cared for.”

Their goals are to provide guests with the opportunity to taste, explore, and learn about wine and offer the community a place to meet and connect with others. The Turquoise Wine Cellar & Tasting Room also hosts regular events with live music, wine classes, and tasting events.

“We embrace our motto: Sip, savor, and enjoy these moments together,” says Jen. “We want our guests to explore the wine, leave the fast-paced world of work, cell phones, and TVs, and connect with what matters in life.”

Making a Difference in their Glendale, Arizona Community

Upon entering this wine bar without TVs, guests immediately notice the small tables, which encourage sociability and the opportunity to meet neighbors and make new friends.

Jen reports, “We often look out across the library and see connections happening and friendships being made. We feel we are making a difference in our community. Both with access to wine and events, but more so by providing a community hub for people to connect. The feedback we’ve received is overwhelming and humbling.”

Both Jen and Laura want to continue to grow this “return to the past” mindset of connection and relationships and possibly expand in the future.

Wine-Tasting Tips for the Newbies

According to Jen, you don’t need to spend a fortune on wine. “We have many bottles under $30 and some of our highest-rated wines in the world for under $20. Find what you love and love what you drink. We’re all approachable and give a safe space to learn and explore new wines.”

When asked to name her favorite go-to wine, Jen laughs, “We’ve narrowed it down to more than 200 favorite wines as there are so many great wines, great farmers, and great stories. Wine is meant to be explored, as every wine has an occasion to go with it. Come explore with us!”

California Wineries

California’s wine industry can be traced back to 1680 when Spanish missionaries planted vineyards in the state. The first commercial winery was established in 1834, and the industry proliferated in the following decades. By the early 1900s, California produced more wine than any other state in the United States.

The California wine industry was severely affected by Prohibition, which was in effect from 1920 to 1933. However, the industry rebounded after Prohibition ended and has continued to grow in popularity ever since.

Today, California is the leading wine producer of 4,700 wineries – that’s over half of all wineries in the United States. 

The California wine industry is also home to some of the world’s most respected and talented winemakers, including the women highlighted below.

Amelia Morán Ceja, Ceja Vineyards, California


From immigrant vineyard workers to grape growers to winery owners and winemakers, the Mexican-American Ceja family is living the American dream. Founded in 1999, the family-owned Ceja Vineyards was founded by Amelia, Pedro, Armando, and Martha. The winery produces 5,000 cases of award-winning, premium estate-grown wines from the Napa and Sonoma Valleys annually.

Born in Las Flores, Jalisco, the family’s matriarch, Amelia Morán Ceja, is the inspiration behind the brand. After recently interviewing her, I’m also inspired and in awe of her passion, motivation, tenacity, kind spirit, love of wine, and the beauty of grapes. In the mid-1960s, at just 12 years old, Amelia and her future husband immigrated from Mexico to Napa Valley at about the same time, meeting in middle school and eventually marrying.

As the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales, she is at the helm of one of the first Mexican-American wineries in Napa – and worked her way from the ground up.

“I grew up in a little village with no running water or electricity, and we bathed in the river,” says Amelia. “I had an amazing and loving family. Our background was agricultural, although not grapes; I remember when I first fell in love with wine when I tasted perfectly ripened merlot grapes. I told my dad that I would have land of my own in Napa. I’d forgotten that he said, of course, you will.”

After college, she married Pedro and proceeded to work in their careers, she in research, and he as an engineer. The path to owning her own land wasn’t direct, but finally, in 1983, after the birth of her second child, they purchased a 15-acre parcel with no business plan, just the desire to own land, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Making a Difference in the Immigrant Communities


The California legislature recognized Amelia as “Woman of the Year” in 2005 for “breaking the glass ceiling in a very competitive business” as the first Mexican-American woman ever to be elected president of a winery.

Amelia has become an impassioned advocate for the value and fair treatment of farm workers. “I make sure all our consumers know that without the Mexican labor force, there would not be a wine industry. These workers are highly skilled laborers, and regardless of their immigration status, their contribution is priceless. That’s how my family and I began our journey, and we are proud of our contribution. I want the unsung heroes of agriculture to be recognized.”

“I feel strongly about being a role model for immigrants,” says Amelia, and challenges women to aspire to become leaders. “It is so important to understand where you begin, and it matters what you do beyond your beginnings.”

Wine Tasting Tips

“Why do we need to know wine lingo to enjoy wine?” asks Amelia. “Either you like it or not. Let your palate dictate the wine to enjoy. We are all biologically different, and we have different tastes.”

In 1973, Amelia recalls, the wine industry was still in its infancy. “No one ever spoke of food and wine. I wanted to show the world that an elaborate menu isn’t needed, nor should it be limited to just French or Mediterranean cuisine. Wine is meant to be enjoyed with food, so why not Mexican cuisine?”

It was in Mexico that she also developed her passion for flavors at a young age, cooking alongside her maternal grandmother. Food and wine are both her passions, so it’s no surprise that she began producing videos in 2009, mainly pairing Mexican meals with wine. These videos offer step-by-step instructions followed by suggestions for wine pairings. (Trust me – you want to watch these videos!)

Susan Tipton, Owner and Winemaker, Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards, Acampo, California

Sue Tipton Winemaker - Acquiesce Acampo California

Originally from Chicago, Susan Tipton is the owner and winemaker of Acquiesce Winery & Vineyards in Acampo, California, in Lodi Wine Country. Acquiesce is Lodi’s only all-white wine winery, featuring estate-grown Rhône varietals in a sea of Zinfandel grapes. The tasting room is in a 100-year-old barn on her 18-acre property, which is surrounded by wine grapes.

A self-taught home winemaker, she was inspired at 50 years old after sampling a French white Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Shortly after that, she began planting and experimenting with these white Rhone varietals. In 2022, Susan was awarded the Best Woman Winemaker at the International Women’s Wine Competition.

“I’m a wife, mother and grandmother,” says Susan. “My winemaking career came late in life for me, but with hard work, passion, and lots of support, it has proven to be fulfilling and exciting. I enjoy telling my story to women who have been in one career for years and yearn to follow their passion later in life.”

Making a Difference in the Wine Industry

Upon opening her doors, Susan’s goal was to give back to the community. She belongs to the charitable organization Lodi Appellation Inclusive Collective (LAIC), founded by her husband, Rodney. LAIC consists of a group of progressive Lodi wineries and professionals with a mission of increasing diversity in their region and the industry at large.

Susan says, “The group hosts annual enrichment trips with other wineries to bring a diverse group into the Lodi vineyards and wineries and immerse them in viticulture, winemaking, blending, and even finance. Best of all, giving back gives me more satisfaction than I ever imagined.”

She is also currently mentoring Christina Lopez, her assistant winemaker, to become a winemaker. “There is nothing quite like sharing our passion and making a difference in someone else’s life.”

Wine Tasting Tips

Drink what you like but get adventurous and try new wines. Purchase a bottle of wine, research what food pairs with it, and make your meal based on your wine purchase instead of the other way around.

“Open your mind about wines,” adds Susan. “White wines pair with more foods than chicken and fish. My favorite wine is my Belle Blanc, my homage to the wine I fell in love with, Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Try new, unusual wine varietals. White wine is not just Chardonnay.”

Another suggestion from Susan: “Seek out the small producers, just like finding your favorite local restaurants versus visiting chain restaurants, and you’ll likely find great attention to detail, quality for the money, and a variety of styles. You won’t know until you try!”

Colorado Wineries

Colorado’s wine country may not be as well-known as California’s famed Napa Valley, but wine lovers can certainly enjoy “vineyards with an altitude.” Grape-growing regions in Colorado range from 4,000 to 7,000 feet, the highest in the Northern Hemisphere and among the highest in the world

As a Colorado resident for nearly 4 decades, I first discovered the Colorado wine country in Grand Junction 25 years ago. I was a novice wine lover, but I fell in love with the Western Slope’s terrain, climate, and sweet wines.

My palette has embraced many more types of wine since then, but I’m still drawn to the wineries on the West Elks and the Grand Valley. These two regions are federally designated American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and produce 90% of the Colorado-grown wine grapes, although they also grow in other areas of Colorado.

Jayme Henderson, Farmer and Winemaker, Storm Cellar, Hotchkiss, Colorado

Photo Credit: Olive & West Photography

Say cheers to one of my favorite wineries on the West Elks, Storm Cellar, located in Hotchkiss.

In 20 years in the hospitality industry, Jayme Henderson, a farmer and co-winemaker, has worn many hats: server, sommelier, wine manager, bartender, event planner, and wine buyer. Her vacations were focused on her wine journey, such as interning at a winery or vineyard.

Jayme says, “This intimate peek into the world of farming and winemaking made me realize that I wanted to change the course of my career as a sommelier. I don’t think you’re ever ready to make a 180-degree change because if you wait until you are perfectly ready, many times, the opportunity disappears.

In the spring of 2017, Jayme and her husband, Steve Steese, took a leap of faith, left their jobs as restaurant wine buyers, sold their home in Denver, closed on a vineyard property, and moved to the Western Slope of Colorado.

They immediately began pruning 18 acres of grapevines. Their first vintage, made from the 2018 grape harvest, was released in 2019. They only wanted to make white and rosé wines, and many people, including winemakers, asked them why.

Our answer, according to Jayme, “Those styles of wines are not only what the two of us like, but they are also often overlooked at a winery – and even viewed as lesser, or that the big, bold wines are the epitome of quality wines. We saw this line of thought as a great opportunity to capture this part of the market. By following our heart, we’ve made our nice for our wines without any compromises.”

She has also created a tasting room as an educational and approachable experience for guests by hosting winemaker-led tastings and chef-led dinners using local ingredients from the North Fork Valley and rotating menus every weekend.

And their leap of faith paid off says Jayme. “This year, my husband and I received the incredible honor of being named Colorado Winery of the Year” by the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology. Any success we’ve encountered during these past six years we’ve worked within the Colorado wine industry wouldn’t have been possible without the foundation we laid years ago when I began my wine journey in 2005.”

Making a Difference in the Community

“Leave the world a better place just because I was in it” is Jayme’s mantra. While she admits it may sound like fluff, she does her best to apply this philosophy to her every interaction – with the land, tasting-room guests, wine buyers, and colleagues in the industry.

“Aligning myself to this philosophy has made me a better winemaker and farmer,” she says, because every step of the way – every interaction – truly matters.”

Storm Cellar’s future plans also align with that philosophy. “We are expanding our grapevine production and employing regenerative agricultural practices so that our systems are more in line with nature and its changing themes. We are more efficient because we are working with nature and not against it.”

Jayme’s go-to choice is a dry sparkling wine, so no surprise that she’s applied her “drinking what you like” philosophy to their winemaking practice. She and her husband are making their first sparkling wine this year, to be released in early 2024.

Wine Tasting Tips

For the seasoned wine lover, Jayme’s advice is to stay true to your roots and remember why you fell in love with wine in the first place. “Shake off the know-it-all tendencies and embrace the JOY of wine.”

For the newbies, she says, “Don’t let anyone else downplay your journey. Follow what you like, remain open and vulnerable, ask questions (you’ll learn more!), and experiment. Wine is supposed to be FUN, an exploration of your senses. The world of wine can be overwhelming but try to look at the vastness of the world of wine as a lifelong journey and opportunity to learn more.”

Finally, to all wine lovers, she says, “Slow down, take a deep breath, and hang out with the aromas. Let old memories arise, imagine which fruit or flower the aroma reminds you of, take a slow sip, and really think about how the wine feels, what it tastes like, and what it does to your palate.”

Idaho Winery

Idaho Wine Country features over 65 wineries and 1,300 acres of vineyards and counting, home to an award-winning and rapidly growing wine industry. From the famed Sunnyslope Wine Trail with sweeping views of vineyards and the Snake River to handcrafted wine tasting in Boise’s Urban Wine District.

Carrie Sullivan, Winemaker and Owner, Telaya Wine Co., Garden City, Idaho

Carrie Sullivan - Telaya Wine - Idaho

How does this sound: sipping wine on the Boise Greenbelt, minutes from downtown while overlooking the scenic Boise River? You’ll get that and more at Telaya Wine Co.

Carrie Sullivan, winemaker and owner of Telaya Wine Co. left her veterinarian practice to make a life change with her scientist husband and two sons under age three when balancing life and work became too challenging. “We wanted to start a science-based family business where we could include our boys and teach them a work ethic. Wine production checked all those boxes for us.”

In 2008, Telaya produced 50 cases of wine – and has continued to grow every year. Their facility includes a full production space and a tasting room with a view where you can enjoy their wines made from Washington and Idaho grapes.

“I spent time with winemakers in Washington and Idaho to lay the foundation for my winemaking education,” says Carrie. “As the boys became more independent, I spent more time in the cellar, researching and honing my craft.”

Making a Difference in the Community

“We have tried intentionally to have a company with a different team culture,” says Carrie. “All of our full-time employees are salaried, with a benefits package, retirement plan, charity, and education budget. We also take retreats as a reward for hard work, as well as brainstorming, annual planning, and education.”

Their retreats have taken them to Italy, Costa Rica, Mexico, Big Sky, and Park City. Carrie reports that these trips bond the team and allow them to experience different levels of hospitality.

“We are blessed to live in a community that is such a strong advocate for supporting local,” Carrie says. “During COVID, we had so many customers who were worried about my employees and family that they purchased wine when I knew they already had plenty in their cellars.”

Telaya pays it forward by striving to support as many organizations in their community as possible. “Every first Friday of the month, we donate 10% of our sales to a non-profit chosen by one of our team members. We are blessed to have the ability to give back, and I feel that it is an important part of being a community business.”

Wine Tasting Tips

When Carrie first started tasting wine, she reported that, like many new wine consumers, she was drawn to the sweet white wines. To expand their palates, she and her husband found a wine store where one of the associates put together a case of different wine varietals and styles.

“We would then save the bottles that we really liked, return to the store with those bottles, and request another case put together for us based on what we had enjoyed. This exercise really exposed me to varietals and styles that I would not have picked for myself but found that I really enjoyed.”

She encourages wine lovers to drink outside of what they feel is comfortable. Try different flights, go to a new wine region, try that Pinot Noir – even though you may normally not choose it.

Illinois Winery

Illinois is home to 165 wineries and tasting rooms. Rosé is the official state wine. To receive this distinction, each Illinois Signature Rosé series wine must exceed world-class standards of quality and use 100% Illinois-grown and -produced grapes.

Chrishon Lampley, WSET II, Founder & CEO, Love Cork Screw

Chrishon Lampley- Love Cork Screw

Meet Chicago-based Chrishon Lampley, founder of Love Cork Screw, a Black woman-owned and operated wine brand launched in 2013.

“Through my 20 years of industry experience,” says Chrishon, “I created a unique brand that captured the hearts of consumers across the nation. The reason I started the brand was the lack of diversity in the industry, so I knew what was missing and decided to fill that gap.”

Her success has not gone unnoticed; she has added amazing collaborations, including a partnership with the Peacock Network, and has been featured in numerous publications.

Since its inception, Love Cork Screw has expanded its portfolio to include five wine-scented candles available at over 1,800 locations, including Target, Walmart, and Whole Foods.

According to Chrishon, her journey and the success of Love Cork Screw serve as a reminder to stay true to one’s vision and remain adaptable in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Making a Difference in the Community

“I believe that Love Cork Screw has made a significant impact in the wine industry,” says Chrishon. “As the first African American woman to go national with a wine brand in the entire Midwest, I feel proud to have broken barriers and created opportunities for underrepresented communities.”

Looking to her future, she hopes to continue inspiring and mentoring others who aspire to make their mark in the wine industry, especially those in underrepresented communities.

Wine Tasting Tips

She first discovered her love of wine right after graduating from college, opting for wine flights instead of the trendy martinis. She encourages all wine lovers to not get hung up on prices. “Some of the most expensive wines may not be to your taste, while some of the less expensive options might surprise you. Keep an open mind when trying out new wines.”

Echoing other winemakers and owners, Chrishon suggests exploring different varietals and regions to see what you like. Read the back label to give hints on the flavor profile. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or take notes – it’s all part of the learning process.

Mississippi Meadery

Yes, you read that right. We are changing it up to include the first meadery in Mississippi, Queen’s Reward Meadery, which creates meads in the wine style, still and smooth, from dry to sweet.

Perhaps your next question is, what is mead? Mead is a delicious alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey. It is often called “honey wine” or “honey beer,” but mead is neither. Mead is a stand-alone category of fermented alcoholic beverages made from honey.

Sounds delicious, right?

In fact, the state has a Honey Bee Program. Under provisions of the Mississippi Bee Disease Act, “the Bureau carries out a program to prevent the introduction and spread of infectious and contagious diseases of honey bees.”

Jeri Carter, Owner & Queen Bee at Queen’s Reward Meadery, Tupelo, Mississippi

Jeri Carter Queen's Reward

While teaching kindergarten and first grade, Jeri Carter began making wine as a hobby, ultimately leading to the founding of Queen’s Reward Meadery in 2016. Jeri has always loved wine and loves making it even more, but Mississippi’s soil and climate create a challenge to grow great wine grapes.

Instead, she focused on one of the state’s fabulous resources: honey, which made mead an obvious choice when turning her hobby into a business.

“It is important to note that honey wine does not mean it is (necessarily) sweet,” says Jeri. “We tell people every day that just like unfermented wine grapes are very sweet and full of sugar, so is honey. But the winemaker gets to control the fermentation process and how sweet a wine – or mead! While mead can be either wine-style or beer-style, at Queen’s Reward, we make our meads wine-style.”

According to Jeri, there are three advantages to owning a meadery as opposed to a traditional winery:

  • First, there is no vineyard to maintain, and we only use 100% Mississippi honey in all their “wine.” Queen Bee purchases thousands of pounds of honey per year from their beekeeper in Yazoo, Mississippi – instead of managing their own bees.
  • Meaderies are not limited to an annual growing season, so they can make mead year-round.
  • Mead can be flavored with other fruits, wine grapes, or even spices.

“Generally speaking,” Jeri says, “everyone that comes to the meadery for a tasting can find at least one flavor that they fall in love with!”

Making a Difference in the Community

“As the first meadery in Mississippi and one of the first in the South,” Jeri says, “we are in the position to make a significant impact on the craft beverage industry. We have worked with the Mississippi State Legislature to change outdated laws that make doing business as a winery in our state easier.”

She has also had the privilege of introducing this part of the country to mead. As a female owner in the industry, it’s also given her an opportunity to impact the craft beverage industry locally, regionally, and nationally, as there are few women-led meaderies.

Wine Tasting Tips

Since most of their customers are wine lovers and mead newbies, Queen’s Reward makes a wide variety of mead, from very dry to very sweet.

Jeri says, “We always recommend starting off dry and working your way to sweet. We also encourage tasting a variety or sweetness level before dismissing it. We’ve converted many ‘nothing but dry’ wine lovers to semi-sweet or sweet mead lovers in only one tasting.”

“My go-to wine is actually a combination of two of ours: Pucker Up, a sweet dessert wine, and our semi-sweet Blackberry,” says Jeri. “The combination of the two is simply hard to beat.”

Finally, her most important tip, again echoing the other women-led wineries I interviewed, is to try a wine before you judge it. “Never dismiss a wine,” she recommends, “as you never know what you didn’t taste could have been your next favorite wine.”

New York Winery

According to this article, there are over 400 wineries and 1,600 New York State vineyards. The Finger Lakes wine region is host to more than 120 wineries and is the biggest producer of wine in New York State.

Nancy Irelan, Winemaker & Partner, Red Tail Ridge Winery, Penn Yann, Finger Lakes Region of New York

Nancy Irelan is the winemaker and partner at Red Tail Ridge Winery in Penn Yan, located in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York. She has been in the industry for 38 years, first as a chemist before entering the Ph.D. program and working in the Viticulture and Enology Department at UC Davis. She worked for E&J Gallo Winery for 12 years before opening Red Tail Ridge.

Red Tail Ridge Winery was a 2019 and 2020 James Beard Award Nominee for Outstanding Wine, Berr, and Spirits Producers. “We are evolving into a sparkling house specializing in ultra-premium Méthode Champenoise,” says Nancy. “We also produce red varieties that are suited to cooler, shorter growing seasons:  Pinot Noir, Dornfelder, Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt, Lagrein, Teroldego, and Cab Franc.”

Making a Difference in the Community

“I was one of the first women employed by Gallo in their Production and Technical side,” says Nancy. “When I left the company, the department I created was composed of approximately 50% women, hired based on their ability, not on their gender.”

In operation for 19 years, Red Tail Ridge is focused on the production of high-quality dry wines producing minimal intervention wine. Nancy reports, “During this time, we constructed a LEED gold-certified winery. We recycle all our winery processing waste and use biodegradable cleaning products. All the heat and cooling for winemaking is provided by geothermal.”

Red Trail Ridge Winery also supports local charities. “For the past 12 years, we’ve produced a charity wine (Good Karma), and each bottle sold gives back 10% of the profit to a food bank in the state where it is sold – now in several states.”

Wine Tasting Tips

“Drink what you like. Drink what you love. Try new things, and if you don’t like it, don’t buy it again. Life is short. Don’t waste time drinking things that aren’t delicious,” are Nancy’s simple wine-tasting tips. Her go-to wine is sparkling, as it pairs well with everything, and the bubbles make her happy.

Oregon Wineries

Tasting rooms, wineries, oh my! Oregon Wine Country is truly as diverse as its landscape: coastal ranges, high deserts, and wide valleys. With more than 1,000 wineries in Oregon, wine lovers can pick their favorites, including Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Pinot Blanc, Gamay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rhône-style blends, sparkling wines, rosé, and many, many more.

We caught up with two Oregon women-led wineries to give you a glimpse into what Oregon wine has in store.

Marilyn Meadows, Co-Owner, Meadows Estates, Oregon

Marilyn Meadows-Oregon Meadows Estates WInery

Located in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, Marilyn Meadows is co-owner of one of Oregon’s few black-owned wineries, Meadow Estates. Specializing in Oregon Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, and Merlot wines, their award-winning Estate Produced and bottled wines are highly sought after.

“After retiring, we looked for our next adventure, and one word came to mind: LAND, but we never intended to make wine,” according to Marilyn, although a Tuskegee University graduate majoring in the sciences, biology, chemistry, and math.

“During our search, we looked at several vineyard properties with the intent of leasing its amenities,” recalls Marilyn. “Long story short, we found our dream spot in 2019, a 100-acre property with a 20-acre vineyard, planted with 10 grape varietals, found mostly in the Bordeaux region of France.”

Their property also included a beautiful tasting room, winery, and two residential properties, one of which was turned into an Airbnb.

After three years in the industry, Marilyn wants the next generation of entrepreneurs to be bold in pursuing their dreams.

Making a Difference in the Community

Marilyn intends to leave a lasting impression in the Valley. “I want to create a space for people to come, stay awhile, and enjoy the award-winning wines. Pick the wildflowers. Visit the oaks and experience the relaxing environment and ambiance this land brings.”

Wine Tasting Tips

“Visitors arrive in our tasting room and always ask: ‘What do you recommend,’” says Marilyn. “For newcomers, I recommend a white wine, perhaps a chardonnay or blended white, and gradually move into the reds with my favorite Pinot.”

For more sophisticated pallets, she shares Meadows Estates’ bolder red wines.

Her all-time favorite wine is Cabernet Franc, a deliciously smooth wine with a great finish. She also recommends their Chardonnay and Muller-Thurgau blend, a delicate wine excellent with any seafood pasta dish.

Stephanie Pao, Winemaker, Foris Winery, Oregon              


As one of a few Asian-American women winemakers in Oregon, this is Stephanie Pao’s second career. “I took a sabbatical to work harvest and decided to try something new. Both technical and creative demands appealed to me. I’ve worked in wineries in California, Oregon, Washington, and New Zealand before taking a winemaking position at Foris Winery.”

Located in Rogue Valley, Foris Winery is a family-owned and operated vineyard and winery that has been in Southern Oregon for over 40 years. This award-winning winery grows and produces Oregon’s heritage varietals: Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, and Gewurztraminer at affordable prices.

Making a Difference in the Community

Winemaking is a site-specific task, according to Stephanie, especially at a winery like Foris that is focused on producing estate wines.

According to wine industry experts, “three main factors influence people whether or not to purchase a bottle: the type of wine, its taste, and where it’s produced. And in the Rogue Valley of Oregon, Foris Winery has been proving for decades that it checks all those boxes.”

“Our goal is to always make the most pleasing wines from the year’s growing conditions,” says Stephanie. “My future plans are to continue to broaden our knowledge of our site and improve our consistency and quality. I hope that our wines will be known as good versions of the varietal, made traditionally, at our price point.”

Wine Tasting Tips

For the newbie, Stephanie recommends, “The best wines are the ones with good company and food and that we take time to drink.”

Her favorite go-to wine is Foris Pinot Noir. “It’s a delightful unfiltered Pinot with enticing aromatics and food-friendly with lighter flavorful meals. I typically drink either bottles friends have made or buy a variety of domestic wines a case at a time from local wine shops. Drinking reds and whites at the right temperature is helpful as well.”

South Carolina Wineries

While not Napa Valley, South Carolina wineries and vineyards are just as passionate about their “grapes.” Known for their native muscadine and scuppernong grapes (sweet, thick-skinned varietals), you’ll also discover vintners producing wines from native grapes and locally grown fruits.

Deb Jones, Co-Owner of City Scape Winery, Pelzer, South Carolina             


An accomplished sommelier, Deb Jones co-owns City Scape Winery, a small craft winery in Pelzer, South Carolina.

Originally from New York City, she and her husband met in college, and one rainy day, boredom struck, resulting in a brainstorming session.

“We knew plenty of our friends made beer,” says Deb, “but we didn’t want to be like everyone else. So, we thought, ‘How about wine?’ Raised near the Finger Lakes wine region, we both had a passion for wine. We did some research and made our first home batch. We made 500 bottles a year in our kitchen for fun.”

Along the way, the couple moved to South Carolina and met an older couple who wanted us to buy their middle-of-nowhere, in-the-country vineyard with a tiny cabin and triple-wide trailer on the property, offering to teach them everything they knew about wine.

“Initially, we worked the numbers, and it wasn’t a good idea,” says Deb. “There were so many challenges, including a secluded yet beautiful location. Also, we were up against preconceived notions of South Carolina wine being too sweet. In 2015, after much prayer and lots of discussion, we decided to pursue the world of wine! We quit our full-time jobs, took out a giant loan, and purchased that little winery we’d grown to love over the years.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

Their 12-acre destination, family and dog-friendly winery and vineyard is located halfway between Charlotte and Atlanta and 30 minutes south of downtown Greenville. They serve over 25 different wines, all fermented, aged, filtered, and bottled onsite, ranging from their Raspberry White Zin to traditional barrel-aged Cabernet Sauvignon. Paired with incredible locally sourced charcuterie boards, unique BLT Sandwiches, and even local food trucks. 

Making a Difference in the Community

“We really believe in making our place a destination that is community-focused and hospitality as the core of our business,” says Deb. “We were the couple doing it all, and now we’ve grown to 47 local employees, 40 of those women and 17 mothers.”

During COVID, City Scape Winery, like many other wineries and vineyards, had to close. “In tears, we pivoted for 7 weeks, produced wine, and moved forward. We turned our entire 12-acre into a giant outdoor tasting room with tables 10 feet apart. We had the space, brought in food trucks, serving 300-400 people. It turned into a safe place, and our business grew 40 percent!”

Wine Tasting Tips

Deb’s wine-tasting tips are simple. “Don’t be intimidated by wine. Enter a winery with an open mind, ready to experience an adventure. Every wine is different, and every bottle brings something different to the table.”

Texas Wineries

Did you know that Texas is home to more than 350 wineries and is the fifth-largest wine-producing state? With its wide-open spaces, Texas is home to beautiful and award-winning wineries and vineyards.

Bénédicte Rhyne, Kuhlman Cellars, Texas


Born in Paris but raised in Provence, France, Bénédicte Rhyne is the winemaker for Kuhlman Cellars, located in Hill Country of Texas on the famous Hwy 290 wine trail between Fredericksburg and Johnson City. She has been a winemaker for 36 years, traveling and working around the world throughout France, New Zealand, and England as a wine importer.

In 1991, she arrived in the U.S. as part of the winemaking team at Ravenswood Winery in Sonoma, California. In 2002, she and her husband moved to Fredericksburg, Texas, with their two young children.

“When I first moved to Texas, there were only 50 wineries and very few vineyards in the High Plains and Hill Country of Texas,” says Bénédicte. “I started a wine consulting business, and in 2013, Jennifer and Chris Cobb invited her to be their winemaker, and together they founded Kuhlman Cellars, opening its doors in 2014.”

Kulman Cellars features a 6.8-acre vineyard that invites guests to walk through during their visit. The winery was the first on Highway 290 to offer an elevated wine and food pairing, an hour-long experience led by a sommelier pairing five wines with five sophisticated and chef-prepared food bites.

Making a Difference in the Community

According to Bénédicte, “I grew up in a country where wine is always a part of our diet, joyful celebrations, and traveling experience. This is reflected in the wine that I craft, inspired by my native Provence and France.”

“When I moved to Texas, I was probably one of only four female winemakers. I believe I have been instrumental in the growth of the industry, which has expanded tenfold in twenty years.”

For the last twenty years, she has had the privilege of being the winemaker for the largest winery in Texas. For sixteen years, through her own Wine Lab Analysis, she has analyzed 1,000 Texas wines. She wants to continue to grow with the Texas wine industry and offer more educational avenues for savvy-looking wine drinkers.

Wine Tasting Tips

“Wine is a fascinating product that relies on Mother Nature and the winemaker’s craft,” says Bénédicte. “Tasting and pairing with food can be a magical experience. Take the time to enjoy the experience. It should be fun, educational, and beautiful moments with your friends. Tasting wine should be a pleasurable sensation for you. Enjoy all the moments.”

For her, a quality wine is one that shows balance and complexity. Tasting too much of anything in the glass, meaning too much oak, acidity, alcohol, or sugar, does not offer harmony, and she doesn’t find it enjoyable. “I love sipping wine while I taste and ponder what aromatics trigger my own personal happy memories.”

Her go-to wine is Champagne, but in general, her choice of wine depends on the season, her mood, what she’s doing, and what she’s eating. “I love the delicacy of it and that I can enjoy it alone or with food. Of course, I enjoy all the wines I’ve made at Kuhlman and invite everyone to visit!”

Read Next:

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