Happy International Women's Day!
We're delighted to support International Women's Day 2021. It's the day when women around the world get to speak as one for gender equality and keep moving that conversation forward from today, for every tomorrow to come.
We love this year's theme, Choose to Challenge, because if ever there were an industry that needs to challenge gender assumptions and conventions, it's the jobs-for-the-boys world of wine. Yes there's Jancis, just outside the top 10 in Drinks Retailing'sMost Influential People In Wine (seriously??). And Veuve Clicquot, immortalised in name by, um, the death of her husband. And the likes of our great friend Tamara Roberts running Ridgeview, plus loads of other names you probably haven't heard of unless you're properly in the industry.
The fact is, women are not equally represented in the wine world, and those who make it are not as visible as they should be. There are so many stories out there but you rarely hear them.
So, on International Women's Day, here's Team Butler raising a well-earned glass to the wonder women in wine and spirits. These are some of our favourite female producers, making incredible wines that we're proud to stock in our range.
1. Ginny Povall, Stellenbosch
Ginny is a genuine inspiration: a self-taught winemaker who moved to Stellenbosch from her native NYC to set upBotanica Wines in 2008. She'd been holidaying in the Western Cape, fell in love with the landscape and people, so decided to take the plunge and plant some vines. Now she makes sensational organic-vegan wines like the beautifully lean and aromatic Flower Girl Albariño - one of only three wines in the whole of South Africa made from this elusive variety.
2. Filipa Pato, Bairrada
Filipa Pato comes from a great winemaking family - her father Luis is known in Portugal as 'the rebel from Baga'. That may cast a long shadow but Filipa has long since leapt out of it. A trained chemical engineer with a winemaking CV that takes in Bordeaux, Mendoza and Margaret River, she's a leading light in Portugal's natural winemaking scene. Her vineyards are biodynamic, her cellar philosophy is low-intervention and her wines are just stunning. This super-elegant white made from Bical and Arinto grapes is proof.
3. Isabelle & Elise Balland, Sancerre
Sisters Isabelle and Elise are the latest custodians of Domaine Balland, the 6th generation of the family to take the reins. Burgundy-trained oenologist Isabelle makes the wines; Elise runs the business side of things. Together, they're striding into the future with confidence, making a new generation of wines to share, savour and celebrate! Their opulent, intense 2019 Sancerre Blanc is a perfect case in point, elevating Sauvignon Blanc to remarkable levels of complexity and texture.
4. Claire Naudin, Burgundy
Domaine Naudin-Ferrand is prime Burgundy real estate, with plots in some of the most prized vineyards in the Côte d'Or. Under the watchful eye of iconic owner Claire Naudin, the fruits of these vineyards make truly expressive wines. Her philosophy eschews winemaking tricks to let the wines speak for themselves. SO2 is all but eliminated and Claire's best reds, such as the Omayga, are fermented as whole bunches with the stems left in. The energy and vibrancy in this wine is extraordinary. You have to try it to see what we mean!
5. Corinne Seely, Hampshire
There are more women making wine in England than you may think. And here's one of the best: our friend Corinne Seely at Exton Park. Corinne's pedigree is impeccable: she earned her spurs at Château Lynch-Bages and Domaine de Chevalier in Bordeaux before working in Australia, the Languedoc and the Douro. Now she's making some of the most elegant non-vintage sparkling wines in the UK. Her reputation as a winemaker is stellar and her Brut Reserve NV shows why.
Buy Exton Park Brut Reserve NV (£28.95)
6. Claire Kentish Barnes, Sussex
Women aren't just making waves in English wine. Lewes-based Claire Kentish Barnes supplies us with some of our top picks from our gin range. Along with her other half, Claire founded Generation Distillers in 2017 and now makes a delectable selection of super-smooth gins using botanicals sourced in Sussex. We're particularly partial to this bold and zesty grapefruit-infused beauty...
The drinks business needs more talented craftswomen like these seven to flourish in years to come. These female producers, and many others like them, aren't just making delicious wines. One thread you may have noticed running through this post is sustainability. The best wines are products of nature, nurtured into being with care and respect. The more ambitious, visionary women bringing this philosophy to wine production the better, as far as we're concerned.
Here's to International Women's Day - and don't stop choosing to challenge. Look out for us on Instagram all week for more of these inspiring stories.
By Richard Marsden (follow @merret_ferret on Instagram)