Book Review and Personal Thoughts: Women of the Vine; by Deborah Brenner

This is the first time in recent memory that I have started and finished reading a book in one sitting.  I mean, it certainly helps that I’m trapped in a flying steel tube for 5 consecutive hours, but still—often when I’m travelling, I tend to get “bored” with whatever it is that I’m doing and have to mix up my activities a bit to pass the time.  Not this time, no!  I cracked open Women of the Vine: Inside the World of Women Who Make, Taste, and Enjoy Wine, by Deborah Brenner, and read the whole thing from cover to cover without a break.

As a woman and a lover of wine, Women of the Vine spoke volumes to me. Not only did I enjoy the writing style of Deborah Brenner, but I could see parts of myself in the stories of these women winemakers, sommeliers, marketers, and writers.  Anyone looking for inspiration and musings on choosing and paving their career path, woman OR man, Women of the Vine is certainly worthy of your time spent reading the book.

I couldn’t help but smile when I read the story of Paula Moschetti, winemaker at Frog’s Leap and how growing up, she was never really exposed to wine at all.  A lot of winemakers have some background in wine, be it coming from a family of winemakers, or from a family of avid collectors, so it was nice to hear that your background doesn’t necessarily dictate whether or not you can be successful as a winemaker or other wine professional.  It takes passion, dedication, a lot of hard work and personal confidence to do what you want, regardless of how little or how much exposure you had in your previous “lives”.

Like Paula, I, too, “grew up on Kool-Aid and milk”, and really didn’t start to drink or really appreciate wine until after college when I was truly on my own.  In fact, my parents still pride themselves on their dinner and milk pairings, while at the same time giving me their full support in pursuing whatever it is I want to do (which happens to be a wine writer/professional).

What helps me pursue this path of wine writing and at the moment home-winemaking (maybe more someday?? Who knows…) is my insatiable desire to learn as much as I can about the subject, and to allow myself to continue to be educated regardless of how much I think I know. There is always something to learn in wine and in life, so if you find yourself thinking that you’ve done all you can do and you’ve learned all you can, then you’ve pretty much all but given up.

Keep learning from others and let others learn from you.  There are a lot of us on this planet, with infinite knowledge at our finger tips.  Let’s share that knowledge and share support to our fellow man and woman.  No one is better than anyone else, nor does anyone innately deserve better treatment than anyone else.  Who are we to judge others and decide whether or not one particular person or persons should or shouldn’t be able to do something that they are truly passionate about?  Keep an open mind, an open heart, and always welcome with open arms those with the passion and the desire to follow their dreams to fruition.

Never allow yourself to be stereotyped or cast aside because you are a woman, have a different skin color, or different sexual orientation, or whatever!  NONE of these things affect your abilities to make great wine, or do anything else that you so desire, so try to move past the anger and negativity of the naysayers, and go out there and do it, because well, you’re awesome.

Stepping back to the book for a moment, I am so proud of the women featured in Women of the Vine, and feel greatly inspired by their stories and how they were able to achieve success in this traditionally male-dominated field.  Times continue to change, and individual moralities continue to evolve, and while the efforts to attain greater equality among men and women in ALL fields are gaining ground in some cases, there continues to be struggles.  When it’s all said and done, I would prefer to not see women referred in a separate category than men headed down similar career paths.  What I mean is that I don’t want to see

Photo By Unknown XVIIIe s [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Unknown XVIIIe s [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

someone labelled as “winemaker”, while the woman at the winery next door is labelled as a “woman winemaker”.  A winemaker is a winemaker, and who gives a rat’s behind whether that winemaker has one or two X chromosomes.  If you’re willing to do the hard work required to perform such an important position as winemaker; just do it already.  Don’t let antiquated attitudes and “traditions” stop you from where your passion steers you.

I think it’s important as women who are winemakers, writers, tasters, etc. provide the “village support” necessary to help move us a group closer to true equality, but at the same time, I think it’s important to not over stress the distinction between the man and the woman.  I’m not a woman wine writer.  I am a wine writer, and I happen to be female.  It is beyond my comprehension why that even makes a difference.

So ladies and gentlemen, let’s not argue that there is inequality in the field that is based in traditional sexist stereotypes and views, and do something about it.  What can you do?  Well, as a man, get rid of the mindset that someone can’t do a particular job simply because they are a woman.  As a woman, stop thinking that your femininity is preventing you from doing what it is you really want to do.  You want to be a winemaker? Be a winemaker.  If you’re human, have a pulse, and have a desire to elevate yourself to that level in your craft; do it.  It’s really as simple as that.  Nike says it best:  “just do it”.

To purchase Women of the Vine: Inside the World of Women Who Make, Taste, and Enjoy Wine, by Deborah Brenner, you may find it on Amazon by clicking here.

2 comments for “Book Review and Personal Thoughts: Women of the Vine; by Deborah Brenner

  1. July 26, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    I was in a wine shop last week and a customer was asking specifically for wines by women winemakers. Sadly, the sales’ folks didn’t know of many and kept suggesting wines where there were women ASSISTANT winemakers. I’m going to buy the book and do some more profile pieces on women winemakers to help get the word out! Thanks for posting!

    • Becca
      July 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm

      Thank you for your comments, Amy! I think more profile pieces on women winemakers is a great idea! I bet the majority of folks are like those you observed in that wine shop, and it is important to get the word out! Cheers!

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