Wine: More Businesswomen and They Overcome the Crisis. Women and Land Very Similar: Both Create, Both Unpredictable

26/01/2015 Credit goes to female wineries that make up 30% of all wineries that are making their way in a male-dominated world

Annus mirabilis for Italian wine exports. According to the first estimates by Wine Monitor, the Nomisma wine observer, 2014 should close with 5.1 million in exports (+1% over the already positive 2013). Part of the credit of this success also goes to the women in the wine sector.

“Businesswomen in the sector make up 30% of the total,” explains Vice President of the Le Donne del vino association, Donatella Cinelli Colombini, “With great satisfaction, data in hand, it has come to our attention that the wineries that are run by women have resisted better to the economic difficulties and have even increased employment.” The Vice President, who manages the first all-female winery in Italy, then cites an article from the New York Times which reported that women had the top results at the Master of Wine exams. “We are better and we are showing it.” She recounts, “When I left the family winery in 1998, I was given two wineries to restructure and a small quantity of Brunello. I looked for a newly trained cellarman, but I didn’t find one. So, for curiosity’s sake, I asked if there was a female cellarman and the answer surprised and enlightened me, ‘There are many good female professionals available.’ But few ask for female professionals. That was the discrimination that I had never seen. From that point, my winery started with only female workers: from enologists to tasters to the cellarperson.”

“The sector is growing and hiring,” explains Cinelli Colombini. “In times of economic crisis, you would think that it would be hard to find some figures in the business sector mostly in exports, in promoting, there are even people needed for tastings. Just have a look at Wine Job on the web to get an idea.” Experts in the sector, however, were expecting an increase of 1% shown in 2014. Some macroeconomic phenomena have slowed the course of Italian wine. The most evident were: the increased control by the Chinese government over the reimbursement of expenses for Chinese businessmen with a relative decrease in the purchase of “fine” wines in a market that is growing strongly. The second phenomenon, at least in Europe, was the discounts, some even speak of clearance sales, of unbottled Spanish wine which created a price gap with respect to Italian wines. Finally, Russia and the embargo on certain products for the military situation involving the Ukraine. That market had registered increases in double figures over the last five years and saw a foreseeable stop in 2014. Good news, instead, for recovery markets such as Japan, the United States and, mostly, Great Britain where bubbly is enjoying a newfound glory.

“We suffer, but we hold out,” says Pia Donata Berlucchi, Managing Director of the F.lli Berlucchi winery in Franciacorta. “It is not surprising that the winemaking world is becoming more and more feminine. Women and the land are very similar, both create, both are unpredictable. Imagine that a few years ago a hailstorm destroyed 60% of the harvest. What was left was in distress. Four years later, the enologist told us that that small quantity of wine that we managed to get from it was one of the best in recent years. Finally, women’s approach to clients is better than men’s. And maybe this is their secret.”