Whether she’s the the owner, matriarch, winemaker, or chief influencer, each woman behind these wine selections ensures that quality thrives in both their wines, and their kids. (Some were sent for editorial consideration.)The number of impressive moms making equally impressive wine in Napa Valley are far too many to list, like favorites Robin Daniel Lail, Cherie Melka, Amy Aiken, and Mary Rocca.
I recently attended the Stags Leap District 20th annual “Vineyard to Vinter” weekend as a guest of the AVA, adding a new favorite to the list, Taylor Family Vineyards, led enthusiastically by their matriarch, Pat Taylor. Filled with youthful energy, this grandmother proves that passion, a radiant smile and warm hospitality will keep you young. Delicious wine also helps. Pat’s daughter Sandy and son-in-law Phil have been the force behind transforming their estate fruit into world-class wine. Tiny production, sold online, Taylor Estate Reserve Cabernet ($125) layers black fruit, espresso, and tobacco.
Emily Miner was the heart of Miner Family Wines. In 1996 she and her husband, Dave Miner, started their winery in Oakville, pursuing their mutual love for each other, and great Napa Valley wine. Sadly Emily lost a long battle with cancer in 2011. But, her spirit lives on in their exquisite wines like my consistent favorite, Miner Napa Valley Chardonnay ($30). Miner “Emily” Cabernet Sauvignon ($50) was first released in 2016 to honor her unyielding spirit.
Mother of two daughters, Elena Walch, has proven that innovation, determination, and incredible vineyards are the key to wine business success. Though she could have gone into business with her husband, Werner Walch of the prestigious Wilhelm Walch Winery, she wanted to do her own thing, making wine with a modern approach in Old World Alto Adige, Italy. She captures the essence of cool-climate, high elevation acidity in her outstanding wines like Elena Walch Gewurztraminer, layering white flowers, warm baking spice, and citrus.
The welcoming atmosphere of Willamette Valley makes strangers and old friends feel like family. Any winemaker will tell you good wine starts in the vineyard. One of the loveliest in managing the vines is Adelsheim Vineyard Manager, Kelli Gregory, new mom to a baby girl, Savannah Rose. Gregory manages the relationship with their numerous growers, ensuring the high standards established by the more than 40-year-old winery are met. Adelsheim Elizabeth Reserve Pinot Noir ($50) is produced from both estate and purchased fruit, from vineyards spanning the region, layering strawberry, black truffle, and woody herbs.
Also a new mom to baby boy Maxwell, Nicolas-Jay Winemaker Tracy Kendall highlights the minerality and earthiness of Willamette Valley in her 2015 Nicolas-Jay Pinot Noir ($65).
One of the most influential moms in the wine business is Barbara Banke, Jackson Family Wines Chairman & Proprietor. For more than 20 years Banke has led the company she co-founded with her late husband, Jess Jackson, while raising three children. From well-established brands, like La Crema and Kendall-Jackson, to elegant, expressive Cardinale, Verite, and Gran Moraine, Banke leads a dynamic team, including many family members, to create some of the world’s most celebrated wines.
There are too many wines in her ever-expanding portfolio that I adore. A few to consider from their many female-winemakers, are lees-aged, well-rounded Galerie Nassance Sauvignon Blanc ($30) from Laura Díaz Muñoz, or earthy, forest-floor filled Penner-Ash Pinot Noir ($40) from Lynne Penner-Ash. Prefer Chardonnay, try the orchard fruit filled WindRacer Russian River Chardonnay ($40) from Elizabeth Grant-Douglas. Rose fans look no further than the lilac and golden peach filled Cenyth Rose of Cabernet Franc ($24) from Hélène Seillan.
Rias Baixas, Spain is one of the world’s most female-driven wine regions, producing mineral-intense, Atlantic Ocean influenced Albarino. Juicy, well-rounded and lush, these are the ideal to enjoy with summer seafood. Women have been the winemakers of the region for generations, raising families and vines side-by-side, while men worked in Galicia’s fishing industries. Key selections from dynamic moms include Pazo de Senorans ($25), Pazo San Mauro ($25), and Santiago Ruiz ($20).