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Celebrating Female Winemakers in Canada

Last week I had the pleasure of showcasing a few of the amazing female winemakers in Canada in celebration of Women's History Month on the Social.

Women's History Month began in 1992 by the Canadian government as a time to celebrate women who have gone before us, who are doing inspiring things in our present, and women of tomorrow.

The theme for this year's marked month is 'She did, so now I can',a compelling message that leads me to think of mentorship.

When trying to land your ideal career, you often gravitate to roles where you see others who look like you or where you see others you can relate to.This, in itself, is a type of mentorship from afar. The void of female leadership in the vineyard and winery for years made this type of mentorship difficult for females contemplating a career in wine production. Thankfully, the Canadian wine landscape has changed and continues to evolve. We are seeing compelling wines from powerful Canadian females, which is something I will raise a glass to.

The Female Winemakers Featured on the Social and their Wines

2020 Nadja's Vineyard Riesling, Flat Rock Cellars, Niagara Peninsula

Winemaker - Alison Findlay, Haley Thompson

About the Winemaker

This is a remarkable story when we talk about women in wine in Canada. At Flat Rock Cellars, you have head winemaker, Alison Findlay, training and, just recently, handing over the reins to Haley Thompson.

Haley was the assistant winemaker under Alison and is now the head winemaker at Flat Rock Cellars. Alison is now the head winemaker at Niagara College Teaching Winery and is the first female winemaker ever at the institution!

About the Wine

The Flat Rock Cellars Nadja Riesling is one of my favourite from the Niagara region. Its bright acidity is balanced by excellent fruit structure. You get apple, pear, lemon, honey, and hawthorn floral notes on the nose. Then, ripe peach, pear, fennel, and honeysuckle are recognized on the palate.

2020 Skin Fermented Chardonnay, Maenad Wine Co.

Winemaker - Yvonne Irvine

About the Winemaker

If you understand the Maenads' story, you will understand Yvonne's approach to wine and life.

The Maenads were the followers of the god of wine, Bacchus, in Greek mythology. They were women who enjoyed life and danced their way through it. The word Maenad literally translates to The Raving Ones.

Co-owner and head winemaker Yvonne Irvine started Maenad Wine Co. during COVID (2020). She had been thinking about launching her own wines for quite some time and finally decided to dive right in. COVID opened up her schedule, as with the rest of us, and made her realize she needed to do this. In the words of Yvonne:

"Maenad Wine Co. was created to celebrate women. Truly celebrate women and accept them for whoever they want to be. The wild, the provocative, outspoken, and courageous women.”

Yvonne not only makes the wines for Maenad Wine Co. but she is also the assistant winemaker at Creekside Estate Winery and Queenston Mile Vineyard.

About the Wine

Maenad's Skin Fermented Chardonnay is extremely food friendly. It is stunning to look at, smell and taste!

On the nose, you cannot help but note the inviting tropical and floral bouquet, such as mango and lavender. On the palate, a wonderfully complex array of flavours like apple, lemon, lime, mushroom, and anise, to name a few.

The Maenad Wine Co. 2020 Skin Fermented Chardonnay is a low intervention wine with no added sulphites.

2018 Haywire Gamay, Okanagan Crush Pad, British Columbia

Winemaker - Katrina D’Costa

About The Winemaker

Katrina is a great sign of our winemaking future. Her background is Goan, and she grew up in East Africa. You definitely get the sense that Katrina takes her learned experiences with her in her winemaking. She says the art of food, wine, and flavours is something she has been surrounded by her entire life, and you see this assemblage in the wines she makes.

Her love of what happens in the vineyard led her to winemaking. In Katrina's words:

“You spend a year, sometimes more, watching it grow, protecting it, listening to what it needs and encouraging it through ups and downs until it eventually reveals its true character.“

About the Wine

The 2018 Haywire Gamay is a wine of great structure. Its dazzling acidity and firm tannin make it age-worthy and an excellent addition to any meal.

Aged in concrete tanks, the Haywire Gamay gives you red cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and lean minerality on the nose. You get deep red berries coupled with black plum, bay leaf, tomato, anise, and peppercorn on the palate.

If you are ever in BC for wine tasting, I highly encourage you to head to the Okanagan Crush Pad. The facilities are a thing of beauty.

2017 Christine’s Block Merlot, Greenlane Winery, Niagara Peninsula

Winemaker - Diane Smith

About the Winemaker

Diane has been the winemaker at Greenlane since 2010. Her impressive back story includes working in Central Otago's vineyards and several other premium wineries in Ontario.

Diane prides herself on making age-worthy and complex wines but also smiles broadly when she hears someone speak about her wine in reference to a pivotal moment in their lives. To Diane, wine is something that brings people together, and through that, many memories are formed.

About the Wine

The Christine's Block Merlot is the winery co-owners favourite, hence the name. I will say that after the first sip, you have no choice but to agree with 'Christine' that this is a fantastic wine!

The 2017 Christine's Block Merlot was aged for 31 months in oak and another year in bottle before release. On the nose, cherry, plum, blueberry, rose, leather, and well integrated oak notes are present. On the palate, you are met with a soft and round mouth-feel, with a bevy of red berries, green pepper, peppercorn, leather, mushroom, ever so light nutmeg, and clove

Only 350 cases of this wine were produced.


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