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 Eleonora Marconi, winemaker with Castello di Nipozzano at Frescobaldi in Tuscany, Italy.
Eleonora Marconi first began her relationship with Frescobaldi’s Castello di Nipozzano estate in 2005 while she was studying oenology at the Polytechnic University of Marche in Ancona, Italy. Starting as an intern, she quickly gained experience and joined the team full-time as a winemaker in 2012. Frescobaldi wines have an esteemed Italian history, with roots tracing back to the year 1000—the family even commissioned such works as the Santa Trinità bridge over the river Arno and the Brunelleschi-designed Church of Santo Spirito—and started producing wine around 1300. Renaissance artists Donatello and Michelozzo Michelozzi were clients and years later, Frescobaldi bottles graced tables in the Papal Court and the English Court of Henry the Eighth. Basically, a winemaker with Frescobaldi is a force to be reckoned with, which is why we were thrilled to chat with Eleonora Marconi.
JustLuxe: What got you started in the industry?
Eleonora Marconi: I discovered my passion for wine during high school, and trained as a sommelier shortly after graduation. I began studying for a degree in oenology at the Polytechnic University of Marche in 2005, and also took on an internship at the Castello di Nipozzano—the same estate where I work today! After graduating university in 2009, I split my time between the Castello di Nipozzano, working the Northern Hemisphere vintage, and McLaren Vintners in South Australia, working the Southern Hemisphere vintage. In 2012, I decided to join the Frescobaldi Family full-time at the Castello di Nipozzano. In a way, I have grown up with the Nipozzano vineyard; I have been working there since I started studying wine.
JL: Who are some of your heroes?
EM: My family; they are definitely the most important people in my life. They support my dreams and pursuits no matter where I choose to live or work, which is especially important for me as I have traveled around the world. Half of my family has roots in Australia, so this is what inspired me to spend time there making wine. I was able to learn new techniques in wine-making, while exploring the other side of my heritage.
JL: Is there a female figure in the wine world whom you consider to be the most inspiring and/or influential?
EM: When I worked in Australia I was consistently impressed by the winemakers' personalities; they had so much energy, love and passion for their craft. I soon discovered that part of the reason they were able to be so successful was because they had incredible, supportive wives behind them. They were awesome, beautiful women who were shaping the character of their husbands. I also had the pleasure to work with some female winemakers in Australia who were equally as passionate and amazing!
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?
EM: I don’t think this issue is specific to the wine industry; it is a problem of job equality world-wide. Women still have a long way to go in terms of obtaining the same rights of men.
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?
EM: I would prefer to be referred to as “just another female winemaker” with my own character and personality. First and foremost, I want to be recognized as a winemaker, but I also feel the position of women in the industry should be recognized. I do not think there is a big difference right now between males and females involved in the wine industry. Instead, it is an aptitude to make wine, related to an individual’s own capacity that is independent from being a man or woman.
JL: What do you like the most about your wine/wine lists?
EM: I really love the Nipozzano Vecchie Viti; it is the newest wine from the Nipozzano estate. But Montesodi is my favourite: elegant, classic and interesting—you need to take your time to enjoy it when drinking. Montesodi is definitely a wine to share over a special occasion—this is a bottle that will transport you to Tuscany no matter where you are the world!
JL: Do you have a favorite wine?
EM: I love wine, but I can’t say I have a favorite wine outside of my estate. Instead, I choose what to drink depending on the mood and occasion. So you could say I have favorite wines for certain “occasions,” such as a hearty red in the wintertime in front of a fire place with a nice book, or a glass of sparkling in the summertime on the beach with friends. My moto is simple: wine/friends/food/fun/love/relax!!!