As time has gone on, we have started to see a little bit of a shift, both in the Italian wine industry and the global sector. Wine has typically been a male-dominated profession. Most of the great wine producers in the world were established by men and, in many cases, are still being led by men.
However, this doesn’t quite tell the whole story. Women have had a continual, though much more subtle, impact on the wine industry over the years and today we are starting to see many more women take control of their own wineries and start producing products that easily rival anything made by their male counterparts.
In short, gender equality is slowly, but surely, creeping up on the Italian wine industry. Some companies, such as Tuscany’s Il Casato Prime Donne, take things even further by only employing women.
It is certainly a step in the right direction and it is one that we at Xtrawine thoroughly encourage. So with that in mind, we have compiled a small list of some of the most important women in the wind industry.
Strong and passionate personalities abound in the wine industry. Some would even go so far as to say they are required in order to be successful in an industry that places so much emphasis on love and respect for the land on which the grapes are grown. Perhaps few people embody this passion more than Camilla Lunelli. Ever energetic, Lunelli stands at the helm of the Lunelli Group, which oversees a range of wineries including the famous Cantine Ferrari. The group even produces the official water used by the Italian Sommeliers’ Association. Her role includes overseeing the entire marketing and communications strategy of the group and she has been instrumental in helping the company gain even further prominence in recent years.
Many would call Chiara Lungarotti something of a pioneer for women in the wine industry. After completing her education on viticulture at Perugia University, Lungarotti experienced work in all areas of her family’s estate, spending time in the cellar, the vineyards, and even the hotel. This dedication to learning as much as possible about the wine industry and her family’s role in in placed her in perfect position to assume the mantle of CEO of Cantina Giorgio Lungarotti upon the passing of her father in 1999. Under her watchful eye, the company’s vineyards have been replanted and the Cantina has expanded impressively. Not only has she carried on the great work already done by her family, but she has been instrumental in driving Cantina Giorgio Lungarotti forward into the 21st century.
As the role of women in the Italian wine industry has become more defined and others have broken through the glass ceiling, we are starting to see more women enter the industry at a much younger age. Enter Arianna Occhipinti, who planted her very first vines at the tender age of 22 in 2004 and hasn’t looked back since. Her speciality is Frappato, which is seen by many in the industry as something of a less serious grape. However, in Arianna Occhipinti it becomes something truly special and her work over the last decade or so has really challenged the preconceived notions that many had about the grape. There are few winemakers in the world who are such driving forces when it comes to creating respect for everything that Sicily contributes to the modern wine industry.
Nino Franco is one of the most famous producers of Prosecco in the industry and since 2006 Silva Franco has been doing everything in her power to ensure that reputation is maintained and expanded. Initially hesitant about entering the industry, Silva spent a year working as an interior designer in Milan, gaining essential outside experience that would later inform her work in the wine industry. Today, she essentially acts as the company’s CEO and has proven instrumental in helping Nino Franco maintain impressive sales. Upon the retirement of her father, there is nobody who is better placed to take the reins at this most prestigious of wine producers.
Until Elisabetta Foradori committed her passions to it, the Teroldego grape was all but unknown to the Italian wine industry. However, through her passion, commitment, and skill, the grape has built an amazing reputation. Foradori has been producing wines since the tender age of 11 and she shows absolutely no signs of slowing down now. In fact, there are few, if any, people in the world who understand their own territory quite like Foradori understands hers and the wines that she produces have been all the better for it. Today, everybody looks forward to the next innovation that will be introduced into the industry by the remarkable Elisabetta Foradori.
The Allegrini brand is one of the most respected in the wine industry today and much of the reason behind that is the work of Marilisa Allegrini. She truly seems to have the ability to do anything and everything that she sets her mind to and many at Allegrini will tell you that she is an ever-present influence on every single aspect of the company. A strong business mind melds with a deep understanding of the complexities behind wine production to make a true titan of the wine industry. She truly is an example for all, men and women alike, who wish to prosper as wine producers.