Women don’t make better wine, or more feminine wines, they just have a different approach. As I wrote last year, consortiums of women winemakers like Wine Entre Femme were “borne out of the desire to reach out to other women and do what we do so well – help each other.”
In France, there is an organization called Femmes de Vin (Women of Wine) which consists of regional groups of over 90 women winemakers from Burgundy, Beaujolais, Rhone, Provence and Languedoc, among others. They forged a unified front at the recent Vinexpo – the largest international trade event in wine – through a common pouring, and in effect, helped each other market their wines through branding.
In Burgundy recently, I had the chance to meet a couple of members of the local group Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne (Women and Wines of Burgundy) which started about 10 years ago with four members and now has almost 40. One of the original members was Lyne Marchive at Domaine des Malandes in Chablis. She made sure I understood that women winemakers don’t make better wine; in effect, there is only one way to make wine – the right way. But they definitely go about the business differently. She recounted that in the past at professional meetings, men would never express their problems with each other, perhaps they were too proud or shy. She thought, why shouldn’t they? It was this thinking that helped establish Femmes et Vins about 10 years ago.
She says the network provides results. For example, someone might shoot an email to the members about recommendations for good shippers in Germany or needing help in Brussels. She says there is always someone in the group who will have the answer or submit good ideas.
And do the women in Burgundy approach hospitality differently? For example, Les Medocaines in Bordeaux are a group of women chateaux owners who offer cooking and wine pairing classes to reach out to consumers. No, Lyne said, in Burgundy, they are “more technical, real winegrowers” and not so much into tourism. After all, Burgundy has always been made up of small growers and domaines compared to Bordeaux and owners are more likely to be immersed in all aspects of the business.
In such an industry structure, the network of FEVB makes even more sense.