There may be a large gender divide in many workplaces, but in the realm of wine, women have been steadily rising to the top. Not only do female consumers outweigh that of men, the number of female winemakers and sommeliers continue to rise every year. There are probably countless reasons as to why women are reigning supreme on the vineyard, but we’ll leave reasoning to the 10 talented ladies we recently spoke with. From California to Italy, from winemakers to sommeliers, these women’s stories are funny, touching, kismet, and inspirational. Plus, their favorite wines make a pretty amazing shopping list.
What started as a small feature is now a full-sized series, so make sure to stay tuned to learn about each and every one of these 10 women in wine. Next up is Marina Cvetic, owner, winemaker and Operations Manager for Masciarelli Winery in San Martino, Chieti Abruzzo, Italy.
Born in Belgrade, Serbia in 1967, Marina Cvetic Masciarelli grew up in her grandfather’s small vineyard. As an adult, she lived in several different countries before moving to Italy in 1987 and meeting the legendary winemaker Gianni Masciarelli. Marrying a couple years later, the two forged an unbeatable wine-making partnership that birthed one of the Masciarelli Winery’s most prestigious varietals, the Marina Cvetic bottle. When Gianni passed away in 2008, Cvetic took over Masciarelli Winery as owner, winemaker, and Operations Manager. Cvetic has led the winery into a new age, increasing production from a couple thousand to well over one million bottles, establishing herself as a formidable force to be reckoned with. Striving to spread the word of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo all over the world, Cvetic has received many different awards over the years, including the title of “Businesswoman of the Year 2006” by Abruzzo Impresa magazine, “Woman of Wine and Life” from the Golosario of Paolo Massobrio, and the Merit Mention as “Grand Officer” of the Italian Republic in 2013.
JustLuxe: What got you started in the industry?
Marina Cvetic: My first experience with winemaking goes back to my oldest memories. My Grandpa in Croatia used to make wine for the family, and as a child, I loved to spend time with him in the cellar and out harvesting in the vineyards. Of course, my true start was when I met my then-future husband Gianni Masciarelli, an inspired man that wanted to change the world’s perception of Abruzzo wines. After so much hard work and dedication, he finally achieved it.
JL: Who are some of your heroes?
MC: I have many different heroes, and they’re always changing! I remember watching Martin Luther King, Jr. on TV as a child repeating his famous words, “I have a dream.” I was too young to understand it at the time, but as I grew older the words began to resonate for me. An Italian hero I have always admired is Leonardo da Vinci. It’s amazing to me how this man could conceive of art so profound and timeless 500 years ago.
Most importantly, in my life I had the chance to live side-by-side with my personal hero, Gianni Masciarelli. He was brave, resolute, ambitious and a big dreamer. He would wake up in the middle of the night saying he had a brand new idea to fulfill his dream, and I’d tell him to go back to sleep, there will be plenty of time. He taught me a lot of things, and I grew as a person during my time with him.
JL: Is there a female figure in the wine world whom you consider to be the most inspiring and/or influential?
MC: The first woman that inspired me was Barbe Nicole Ponsardin, Madame Veuve Clicquot; the inventor of Champagne Rosé. She was a true Iron Lady—she inherited the company from her husband when she was 27 and had to face many obstacles in what was predominantly a man’s world, and she achieved great success. Another inspiration is Corinne Mentzelopoulos. She had relatively no background in the wine industry, but when she took over Château Margaux she surrounded herself with an amazing group of professionals. Enabling your collaborators to express their full potential is a crucial quality for a chairperson, and she allowed the company to achieve its best results.
JL: Considering more women tend to list wine as their favorite alcoholic drink compared to men, why do you think it has taken so long for women to break into the industry? How has the climate for females in the wine industry changed?
MC: Unfortunately, women have had to face more obstacles than men in all industries, not just wine, because we are still too bound to stereotypes and prejudices cemented over the centuries. Together, both women and men must overcome this limiting perspective, and women need to be confident in themselves and win with their ability to make choices.
JL: As a woman in the field, would you prefer to be "just another winemaker/sommelier" or do you find power in the attention gained from being a female in the industry?
MC: A person of value is a person of value, no matter if a man or woman. What really matters are personal and professional achievements. Of course, I am proud of representing women in winemaking. I think that female values are crucial in the agriculture field—we have heightened sensitivities to our environment that allow us to understand the crops and how to tend them.
JL: What do you like the most about your wine/wine lists?
MC: When making my wines, and especially the Marina Cvetic products that I have been directly taking care of for 15 years now, I always look for ways to make a personal and unique touch. Above all, I want them to have a clear identity and a strong personality, able to reflect my taste. Sweetness and drinkability are not the main objectives; I look for something able to impress the palate as much as the imagination.
JL: Do you have a favorite wine?
MC: Many! For whites, I love Malvasia grapes from Slovenia and Istria; Furmint grapes used to make Tokaj and Tokaj Aszù from Hungary; and Vermentino from our Sardinia. For reds, Aglianico, Barbaresco, Pinot Nero and of course, Montepulciano. “Ça va sans dire” (“that goes without saying”). In my current state of mind, our Cerasuolo (the rosé that we obtain from Montepulciano grapes) is my absolute favorite. Its perfumes inebriate me, make me think, and make me reflect for days afterwards, like the madeleine [did] for Proust!