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March 16, 2015 | Kellie Duckhorn

Winning Women

Coaches, like winemakers, are leaders…they create strategy, execute game plans and most importantly, they inspire! Do I know much about these amazing ladies? Not really…but their successes, which are extraordinary in the world of sports, led me to contemplate some of the winning women winemakers who have had similar seasons of success and whom deserve our recognition...

 

Cathy Corison is in my final four as an outstanding lady winemaker. Jon Bonné, from the San Francisco Chronicle, named Cathy as Winemaker of the Year in 2014. I cross paths with Cathy in the local gym and during these early morning hours, she often has a slightly mischievous grin… With 25 seasons behind her, Cathy has a few key strategies which define her playbook: organic farming with a focus on dry-farming, moderate ripeness and specific vineyard locations. Her top “athlete”, the Kronos Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, has been her starting player for over two decades. This expression of Cabernet Sauvignon has many winning moves: grace, elegance and the ability to mesmerize!

 

 

Heidi Barrett also lands in my final four. I love Heidi’s personal style: fun, upbeat and professional. Her tenure as winemaker for some of the most revered wine brands in the Napa Valley speaks volumes to her ability to coax excellence out of every vineyard. Some of her top performers, with perfect scores, include the Maya label from Dalla Valle and Screaming Eagle. In 1996, she formally launched her own brand, La Sirena, with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon. Her philosophy is to make the best wines possible by blending modern technology with traditional winemaking. Pick up a bottle of La Sirena Cabernet Sauvignon and enjoy the balance of fundamentals accented by Heidi’s signature moves!

 

I first met Rosemary Cakebread when she was the winemaker at Spottswoode. Her quiet personality underscores her commitment to producing wines that have character and grace. She is not flashy and neither are her wines. Like a solid rebounder, Rosemary’s wines combine power and elegance in a full-bodied style with good structure. With more than 30 seasons under her, Rosemary launched her own brand, Gallica, in 2007. Her goal is to bottle balanced and expressive wines which represent the best of a particular vintage. I like this philosophy…take it as it comes…the winemaker is at the mercy of each harvest…one can only plan for so much.

 

 

 

My final pick in the winning wine women bracket goes to Françoise Peschon. Françoise is wonderfully real. Her affection for Cabernet Sauvignon began with her studies at the University of Bordeaux and was solidified by an apprenticeship at Château Haut-Brion. She has crafted beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon from Araujo Estate for over 14 years as well as overseeing the stellar wines from Vine Hill Ranch. In 2000, she teamed up with Lisa Drinkward, Owner and Vineyard Manager for the Behrens Family Winery, to form Drinkward Peschon. They produce only Cabernet Sauvignon and their joint project, called Entre Deux Mères (between two mothers) reflects their philosophy of raising children – give them a lot of tender loving care, nurture always, then let them go on to express themselves and become the unique individuals they were meant to be.

 

I like the idea that wines are like children...they need to be coached, but really, they have their own personality! A toast to each of you winning women, and a word of gratitude for staying in the game! 

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