The Vinguard’s 2018 listing of women-owned wineries, wine bars, shops and restaurants
A few friends have asked me which venues in the wine industry they should avoid as they do not wish to patronize those who discriminate against, harass or in any way devalue women. Boycotts serve a purpose but I’m more interested in promoting the people and establishments who do a lot to support women so let’s do the inverse and have a Girlcott![i]
Last year, I made a list of women winemakers and women-owned companies that worked in the Bay Area. This year, I’ve added a few spots in other places that have come to my attention and lean in a natural direction. I’m not being super hardcore about what “natural” means but I believe pretty strongly that people should avoid wines that are vinified with chemicals.
Also, since it’s International Women’s Day, I want to shine a light on a few of the female wine professionals who I respect not only for their wine talent but also for what they’ve done to bolster and help other women.
I met Barbara Haimes on a dark and stormy winter night in 1994 or 1995. She was the manager and wine buyer for the China Moon Café,[ii] where she created one of the best wine lists in the city at the time. She’s been a manager at Zuni Café, wine consultant to Café Rouge and Shakewell in Oakland, and an Instructor of Culinary Arts & Hospitality at City College in San Francisco. These are all notable accomplishments but what I think makes her such a giant is that she has the most attuned and intelligent palate of anyone I’ve met. Being able to synthesize what you experience cerebrally with what you taste is a talent and having the ability to translate that so it makes sense to others is a unique gift.
She has also been a tremendous sounding board to me and others over the years. While the position of women in business might be a hot topic now, it’s something that Barbara has always been mindful of and, as she entered into the wine and food industry when there were considerably fewer women to be found, she has a perspective that is incredibly valuable.
It might not seem like a big deal today but when A16 opened its doors on Chestnut Street in 2004, Shelley Lindgren’s southern Italian centric wine list sent shock waves throughout the Bay Area. Some considered it bold, many genius but it would not have been as groundbreaking if it was not so impeccably chosen. Beyond its wine selection, A16 has been holding Festa Della Donna every March since 2005, a dinner celebrating female winemakers
From the getgo, A16 and SPQR have always had a lot of women on staff and in managerial positions. Shelley has become a role model for so many women who want to have their own restaurants, create a unique wine program and perhaps also have a family at the same time. No one says this is easy but Shelley’s continual grace supplies endless inspiration.
I don’t know Erin Coburn nearly as well as I know Barbara or Shelley but have been incredibly impressed with her commitment to giving back to the community since she opened minimo/Oakland Crush a little over two years ago. Beyond what she’s done in a charitable sense, minimo has provided the Bay Area with a superb natural wine venue where any and all are made to feel welcome and comfortable.
Over the last couple of months we’ve been organizing an event on sexism in the wine industry that is taking place on March 19th* and knowing that there are women such as Erin who have an egalitarian spirit when it comes to wine, are very professional and also dedicated to making this industry more equitable gives me a lot of hope.
[ii] Some of you might remember this was Barbara Tropp’s restaurant. Tropp passed away in 2001 at the age 53. Even though her life was cut short, she made a huge impact on the San Francisco culinary scene, having introduced Chinese fusion to the Bay Area.
*The panel discussion is full and is just for the trade but there is a wine tasting from 6 – 8 pm benefiting the Times Up Legal Defense Fund. Suggested donation $20. minimo, 420 3rd Street, Oakland.
Selections poured by:
Nadia Dmytriw, Floraison Selections
Alleah Friedrichs, Bliss Wine Imports
Erin Pooley, Little Frances
Nicole Walsh, Ser Winery
Polymath Wine (Savanna Wright)
- some of these venues also offer retail
- some of the venues also offer tasting
Jenny & François/Jenny Lefcourt
Shed Wines (Tess Bryant) – * imported through T. Edwards
Vin de Frog (Murielle Robert)
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