In the 1800’s wine making was a grueling industry. Competitive and physically taxing, the business was dominated by strong and tenacious winemakers, almost exclusively men.
Yet there were two women who accepted the task and are known as the first women winemakers in Northern California. After her husband's death in 1882, Hannah Weinberger stepped up to fill the role left by her husband. She became the first female winery owner and winemaker in Napa Valley. Josephine Tychson, a contemporary of Weinberger in Napa, had a similar story. She ran the family winery in 1886, following the death of her spouse.
These pioneers helped pave the way for women in the industry today. Still few and far between, we sought out three women in the Northern California wine industry who have made a name for themselves, and the wineries they represent in the process.
Raymond Vineyard & Cellar-Director of winemaking
Stephanie is a Northern California native and as many of her contemporaries, a graduate of UC Davis. Stephanie has a passion and skill for winemaking that have ultimately gained her position as Director of Winemaking at renowned Raymond Vineyards. Her wines have won acclaim, including recognition in the Wine Spectator’s Top 100, Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 and being named The Wine News Cabernet of the Year. "I have always considered Raymond Vineyards to be a benchmark for high-quality Napa Valley wines with elegance and finesse," Stephanie says.
Wow! This is a winery that blow past the sedate norms of conventional wineries. Sexy and dramatic with over the top sensory impact, Raymond delivers fabulous wine in a stunning setting.
44 miles from Benicia
849 Zinfandel Lane, St. Helena, CA
Chateau St. Jean- Winemaker and General Manager
Also a graduate of U.C. Davis, winemaker Margo Van Staaveren has celebrated her 38th harvest at Chateau St Jean. During her tenure with the winery, Margo has played a pivotal role in every facet of the winemaking process. As winemaker, she makes the final decisions involving blend and style to produce consistently high-quality wines in the super premium and luxury category. Margo’s favorite aspect of being a winemaker is the ritual of it all. “I love the cycle of winemaking. One cycle is the planning of a vineyard then planting it, watching it develop and finally, making the wine from the vineyard. “
In the heart of the Sonoma Valley, the estate offers wine lovers a lovely getaway to soak in the Sonoma wine lifestyle. With incredible views, lush gardens and the elegant 1920s chateau, guests are invited to experience the award-winning wine at their leisure.
Chateau St. Jean
46 miles from Benicia
8555 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood
Stephanie first became interested in wine while participating in an exchange program in France. She decided to turn her passion into a profession while studying at U.C. Davis. Stephanie joined Cakebread Cellars in 2004 and was promoted to Assistant Winemaker in 2008. “… I still enjoy sipping a beer or even home brewing. But wine is a constant-changing subject, since Mother Nature gives us so much growing variability from vintage to vintage. Being a winemaker tests your creativity and ability to adapt along the way, which I find intellectually rewarding, not to mention incredibly fun!”
Since its founding in 1973 by Jack and Dolores Cakebread, Cakebread Cellars has been famous for its warm, gracious hospitality and unmatched wines. “With an enduring commitment to quality, the belief that life's occasions are elevated by good people, good food, and good wine flows through everything we do.” We agree!
35 miles from Benicia
8300 Saint Helena Highway, Rutherford