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Two Women on Wine: Leading women in the world of wine

Part of the growing trend of female influences

Posted: March 18, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Updated: March 18, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier
Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier

We are humbled by the honor of being named 2010 Business of the Year by the SCV Press Club at its prestigious Newsmakers Awards dinner last weekend, and greatly appreciative of the community support we continue to receive each and every day.

While we are not the first women to enter the world of wine, we will certainly not be the last. In fact, there's a growing trend of female influencers in an industry that for centuries has been dominated by the male gender. Perhaps men have held this stronghold due to the simple fact that growing, cultivating and harvesting grapes are agriculture, a field where a man's physical strength has traditionally been an advantage.

But today, with the advent of technology and advances in agricultural sciences, it has become a level playing field and women are soaring into the ranks of world-class vintners, winemakers, educators, writers, sommeliers and the occasional wine store owner.

In fact, science supports that women have a biological edge for being "supertasters," defined as someone having special abilities to discern aromas, flavors and discriminate all the subtle nuances of wine. Studies indicate women have more acute olfactory (nose) and gustatory (mouth) senses than men. With heightened sensitivity to taste and smell, women are able to detect and maintain more subtle aromas. We'll drink to that!

When we opened Vino 100 Valencia in 2006, there weren't many women on the wine scene and certainly not many who owned a wine store. While we love and appreciate wine for what it is, regardless of gender, there are noteworthy women making their marks in this highly competitive, billion-dollar industry to whom we raise our glass.

Heidi Peterson Barrett, the winemaker responsible for some of California's most notable cult wines, such as Screaming Eagle, La Sirena and Dalla Valle, was instrumental in developing the rich, fruit-forward, yet balanced style of winemaking associated with California. Along with husband, Bo, she found herself in the center of the wine scene spotlight with the 1976 "Judgment in Paris" wine competition, which later became the subject of the motion picture "Bottle Shock." Since that time, Robert Parker, one of the most influential fine wine critics in the world today, has awarded her wines 100 points and calls her "the first lady of wine."

As one of only 15 women in the world who have earned the designation Master Sommelier, Andrea Immer Robinson represents the growing trend of women developing tremendous influence in the wine industry. She has written several best-selling wine books and is an internationally recognized wine judge. Sharing her knowledge, Robinson hosts two cable network television shows: "Simply Wine, with Andrea Immer" airing on Fine Living, and "Pairings with Andrea" airing on the Food Network.

We're excited to introduce Southern California to three Napa Valley women who "got together to raise a glass, celebrate life and share the importance of a good corkscrew to hold things together." Katie Hamilton Shaffer, Thrace Bromberger and Nancy Otton are the force behind Toolbox Wine Company. Their story unfolds in their charity and vision, offering an excellent and fun wine while raising awareness and money for a worthy nonprofit. A portion of proceeds of every bottle sold is donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Shaffer travels to Vino 100 Valencia on Friday, March 25 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for an in-store tasting in our Meet the Winemaker series, pouring their new releases: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Contact the store for details or to reserve your wines.

We're proud to be on the forefront of this emerging trend of influence in the world of wine. Our passion is discovering wines that are exciting, innovative and affordably priced, and introducing them to our customers. Every wine has a story. Let us share a few with you.



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