From a young widow who transformed the Champagne industry and the first female winemaker in California’s Napa Valley, to the first woman to earn the illustrious title of Master of Wine. These remarkable pioneers have paved the way for women to pursue groundbreaking careers in the wine industry, adding their unique touch and giving birth to a new era of female wine pioneers!
Natasha Williams - Two Oceans Winemaker
A mean pool player, an avid shopper and a true lover of country living. Natasha Williams, Winemaker at Two Oceans’ Winery, is truly in touch with her cultural roots. “Give me the smell of the soil and I’m at peace.”
Focused and ambitious, she’s worked hard to get where she is, with a portfolio of refreshing, smooth-drinking wines sold at great value prices from coast to coast in over 80 countries worldwide.
Natasha won a scholarship to study Viticulture and Winemaking at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. This is where she began to develop her winemaking skills and hone in on her natural talents for identifying unique flavours and aromas, a remarkable and essential talent in the winemaking industry.
Natasha’s mother, a fantastic cook, worked with aromatic Asian spices and layering of flavours every day of her life. Natasha believes her sensitivity to flavours, came from growing up in her kitchen. But also, growing up in Stellenbosch, the heart of the Cape Winelands, makes wine a key part of her life. Natasha’s grandfather also played a major role, by introducing his grandchildren, of legal drinking age, to wine allowing them to appreciate and respect wine and not abuse it. “His love for wine made sense to use, but we had no idea just how much wine really meant to him. It was only after his death that we found books on wine among his possessions. Ironically, one of them has a picture of the cellar where I work now.”
Of all the wines Natasha makes, she loves Sauvignon blanc most. “Like a woman, it must be handled with care. It’s a very fragile variety and super-sensitive to its environment in the vineyard but also the cellar. It’s very hands-on. Actually, make that high-maintenance! It demands your utmost concentration. It stretches you and that’s what I love: a really good challenge.”
Lucía Vaieretti – Alamos Winemaker
Lucía Vaieretti grew up in Mendoza where her family has tended vines for more than 40 years. She has spent many years working in vineyards from a very young age. That was the foundation of her deep bond with Mendoza’s high desert vineyards.
Lucía attended Don Bosco, the most prestigious school of Viticulture and Enology in South America and has been making wine for over the past 12 years; most of this time has been spent with Alamos Winery. Lucía took over as head of winemaking at Alamos in 2016 and has now become a well-integrated part of the winery, adding her own style to each bottle of wine she produces. “Alamos is such an exciting winery to be part of, It shows what Argentina and Mendoza wine can be. When I’m making wines, I’m trying to express the best things about our grapes and about each region.”
Laura Catena – Catena Winemaker
Most of the world knows Laura Catena of Bodega Catena Zapata as one of Argentina’s winemaking pioneers so it’s a bit surprising to discover that she is also an emergency medicine physician, an author, researcher, mother and so much more!
Laura was born in Mendoza, Argentina in 1967 and went on to attend Harvard University in the 1980s where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. She then continued on her educational path to receive her Medical Doctor’s degree from Stanford University shortly after. In 1995 Laura joined her father Nicolás Catena Zapata at the family winery and founded the Catena Institute of Wine with the vision of making Argentine wines that could stand with the best of the world. Laura truly exemplifies ‘having it all’ as the current General Director of Bodega Catena Zapata, the General Director of her own winery, Luca Winery in Mendoza, Argentina and a practicing part-time physician of Emergency Medicine in San Francisco.
Laura has long been referred to as the “face” of Argentine wine for her active role in promoting the Mendoza wine region and Argentine Malbec. She has been named one of the top 25 wine innovators in the world.
"Since Laura Catena took over and put her name on the label, the estate series seems to have taken on a bigger, brasher expression. The Catena Zapata wines can stand proudly among the best in the world."
Dave McIntyre, The Washington Post
Valentina Buoso – Winemaker at Pascal Jolivet
Valentina Buoso has taken the winemaking industry by storm, after taking over the highly sought after title of winemaker at Pascal Jolivet in 2013, Valentina immediately brought her personal style to the label. Pascal Jolivet’s 2015 Sancerre Rosé, is proof that Valentina not only filled the shoes of her predecessor but has shaped a whole new path for the winery.
Valentina grew up in northeastern Italy, in a small village between Venice and Verona, where she was surrounded by wine production, in the area best known for Prosecco and Valpolicella. It wasn’t until the age of 16 that she became interested in the industry through a wine tasting course at her school.
Once her passion was discovered, education followed. Valentina spent a number of years expanding her wine knowledge at a number of Universities across France, finishing with her European Master’s Degree in both Montpellier and Bordeaux. At the beginning of her career, Valentina’s interest in research led her to one of the best research institutes in the Asti region of Italy, where she studied wild yeast. Soon, she was ready for more. After two years Valentina decided to leave Italy to improve her practical knowledge and see what trends were developing internationally.
In 2013, she was ready for Pascal Jolivet. Since taking the helm, Valentina works with organic grapes to produce quality wine with minimal intervention and chemical adjustments.