Women of the Vine: Inside the World of Women Who Make, Taste, and Enjoy Wine

Deborah Brenner's book focuses on women in the U.S. wine industry

In Print

Women of the Vine: Inside the World of Women Who Make, Taste, and Enjoy Wine

by Deborah Brenner
John Wiley & Sons, 256 pp., $16.95 (paper)

I had high expectations for this book when I first heard of it. With women taking an increasingly active part in an industry previously dominated by men, it seemed that the publication was indeed timely and would offer new insights into gender issues in the wine industry. Instead, Deborah Brenner's Women of the Vine left me a bit cold.

Through informal interviews, Brenner – a marketing executive-turned-wine label owner – portrays the success stories of a group of women in many aspects of the wine industry. She starts with a description of the wine-making process and defines winemakers' jobs clearly and concisely, painting a picture of the incredibly complex work that this job entails. The glossary at the end of the book will be useful to those unfamiliar with wine terminology. While most of the interviews are with winemakers, several are with aficionados such as Stephanie Browne, founder of Divas Uncork­ed, a wine group for African-American women, and top industry scholar Dr. Ann Noble, inventor of the Wine Aroma Wheel.

These women's stories of overcoming adversity, gender discrimination, and family tragedy are clearly meant to serve as inspiration à la Oprah. However, it is hard for me to believe that anyone with the last name Gallo would find it difficult to make it in the wine world. And the lack of geographical diversity is a disappointment. All of the women featured in the book are in the U.S. wine industry, and the winemakers are from some of California's most prestigious vineyards. Understandably, writing a comprehensive book of women in the industry would be daunting, but there are plenty of successful women in the global wine world such as Argentina's Susana Balbo, Sicily's Barbera sisters, and our very own Susan Auler – just to name a few – who deserve equal praise.

This book will be entertaining to beginning wine enthusiasts who want to learn more about the industry. To me, Women of the Vine is a "girly girl" book that reminds me of those annoying Kathy Womack paintings of upper-class women drinking wine on the veranda.

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winemakers, Women of the Vine, Deborah Brenner, Stephanie Browne, Divas Uncork­ed, Ann Noble, Wine Aroma Wheel

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