Breathless Sparkling Wines and Pedroncelli Winery are two women-owned wineries in Sonoma County producing quality, award-winning wines. Their stories are inspiring because they successfully compete in a male-dominated industry.
The following list is from Amy Bess Cook’s website, Women-Owned Wineries of Sonoma County (WOW) .
- Of 4,000+ wineries in California, only 10% have a woman as their lead winemaker.
- Of those wineries, a significantly smaller portion of female (4%) than male (47%)winemakers are also owners of their winery.
- In California, the North Bay area has the highest percentage of women lead winemakers (12 to 14%) while Southern California has the lowest (4%).
- Proportional to their representation in the field (9.8% women, 90.2% men) more women lead winemakers (23%) than men (14.1%) are listed in the acclaimed wine reference book Opus Vino.
Owned by three sisters; Sharon Cohn, Rebecca Faust, and Cynthia Faust. Penny Gadd-Coster, winemaker, and honorary sister, has earned 20 Best of Class, Gold and 90+ ratings producing Breathless sparkling wines. Breathless was established in loving memory of the sisters’ mother who stuffed from Alpha-1, a disease that leaves its victims missing an enzyme that protects them against emphysema. Their mother’s mantra was to “never take a breath for granted, and live life to the fullest.” In their mother’s honor, Breathless donates wine and funds to Alpha-1.
12.5% abv | $25 SRP (sample) | 50% Pinot Noir 46% Chardonnay 4% Pinot Meunier
The grapes are sourced from the North Coast appellation and produced in the traditional French “méthode champenoise ” style. The wine is aged 27 months.
Light copper salmon in color with persistent tiny bubbles. Medium+ acidity, medium bodied. Notes of apple, white cherry and a hint of yeast.
Food Pairing: Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill double cream cow’s milk cheese made in the style of a Camembert.
Breathless Blanc de Noir
12.5% abv | $30 SRP (sample) | 70% Pinot Noir 30% Chardonnay
The grapes are sourced from the North Coast appellation and produced in the traditional French “méthode champenoise ” style. The wine is aged 38 months.
Pale salmon in color with medium+ acidity and medium bodied. Notes of red berries, yeast, ginger and a nice lingering finish.
A 70% woman-owned company including, co-owner Julie Pedroncelli St. John, 3rd generation Pedroncelli family member and Montse Reece, Pedroncelli’s first woman winemaker. The Dry Creek Valley estate was originally purchased in 1927 by Giovanni and Julia Pedroncelli. Today Pedroncelli winery celebrates nine decades as a family owned and operated business with the third generation at the helm and a fourth generation on deck.
2017 Pedroncelli Friends. White, Sonoma County
13.6% abv | $14 SRP (sample) | Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer Blend
Light lemon in color. Medium- acidity and bodied. Notes of lychees, herbs, pine, and spice.
Food Pairing: Ginger Chicken stir-fried in coconut oil
2015 Pedroncelli Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, Mother Clone
14.9% abv | $19 SRP (sample) | 88% Zinfandel 12% Petite Sirah
The Zinfandel grapes were sourced from the historic Zinfandel vineyards surrounding the winery. The vines are the second generation cloned from the original “Mother” vines. Also, a small portion of 100-year-old vines sourced from the estate vineyards of; Home Ranch, Bushnell, and Buchigani are included in the blend. Fermentation was in stainless steel tanks followed by 12 months aging in American oak barrels. 12% Petite Sirah was added for color and structure.
Dark ruby in color. Medium acidity and medium+bodied and tannins. Notes of blackberries, black plums, raspberries, and vanilla.
Food Pairing: Grilled burgers or flank steak
Breathless Sparkling Wines and Pedroncelli Winery are just two examples of women-owned wineries. Thanks to Amy Bess Cook and her project Women-Owned Wineries (WOW) of Sonoma County, Cook has compiled a list of women-owned wineries in Sonoma County. Her goal is to empower women economically in the wine industry. The bonus of course in supporting these women-owned-wineries is tasting the distinctive wines they produce.
Thanks to Tina Morey of WineStudio for organizing and guiding interested wine enthusiasts like myself to learn more about the women behind Breathless Sparkling Wines, Pedroncelli Winery, and Amy Bess Cook of Women-Owned-Wineries (WOW). And finally, for coordinating the wine samples from these wineries to appreciate further their talents in the wine industry.
Disclosure: The wines were provided as samples; all opinions are my own.