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10 Women in Virginia Wine

By:
Virginia women in wine industry

Early pioneers like Lucie Morton, Felicia Warburg Rogan and Emma Randel paved the way for the trailblazing community of women owners, winemakers and industry professionals making their mark in Virginia wine today.

By Hannah Serrano

Melanie Natoli of Cana Vineyards
WINNING WITH WINE: Melanie Natoli of Cana Vineyards won the prestigious Governor’s Cup with their 2019 Unité Reserve

Melanie Natoli After leaving her career as a physical therapist, Natoli became the winemaker and vineyard manager at Cana Vineyards and Winery of Middleburg in 2015, was recognized as Woman Winemaker of the Year at the International Women’s Wine Competition in 2017, and last year won the prestigious Virginia Governor’s Cup with Cana’s 2019 Unité Reserve.

Jenni McCloud As the owner of Chrysalis Vineyards since she founded it in 1998, McCloud is known for the re-cultivation of Norton grapes in Virginia. At 69 acres, Chrysalis’ planting of Norton is likely the largest in the world.

Rachel Stinson Vrooman At Stinson Vineyards, winemaker Rachel and her father, Scott Stinson, were joined by Rachel’s husband, Ankida Ridge winemaker Nathan Vrooman in 2015. Their 2017 Meritage was recognized in last year’s Virginia Governor’s Cup Case.

Sharon Horton Sharon and her husband, Dennis, were the first to plant Viognier in Virginia in 1989. Following Dennis’ passing in 2018, Sharon was joined by her daughter, Shannon, and granddaughter, Caitlin, at the helm of Horton Vineyards. Last year, the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association presented Sharon Horton with the Montieth Award, one of the most prestigious honors in the wine world.

Kirsty Harmon Netherlands-born and Charlottesville-bred, Harmon got her start working with Virginia wine pioneer Gabriele Rausse before earning a master’s in viticulture and enology at UC Davis and landing at Blenheim Vineyards as winemaker and general manager.

Maya Hood White The California native also earned her master’s in viticulture and enology at UC Davis and is now the winemaker at Early Mountain, where she produced Virginia’s first pétillant-naturel (lightly sparkling wine).

Emily Hodson Hodson worked alongside her father, Andrew, at the inception of Veritas, their family’s vineyard, before receiving her master’s degree in fermentation science at Virginia Tech and taking over as Veritas’ head winemaker.

Maggie Malick The Navy veteran, aeronautical engineer, winemaker and owner of Maggie Malick Wine Caves took home the Loudon Wine Association Wine Maker of the Year Award in 2021. Her 2020 albariño was recognized in last year’s Virginia Governor’s Cup Case.

Jennifer Breaux Breaux grew up in the Outer Banks, where her father, Paul, built the highly successful Sun Realty and where Breaux spent 16 years working in fine dining. She joined the wine business in 2005, taking over operations at Breaux Vineyards from her father, eventually becoming president, and serving on several wine industry boards.

Katell Griaud Griaud grew up on her family’s vineyard in southwest France, received a master’s degree in oenology from the University of Bordeaux, and worked as a winemaker at Kluge Estate (now Trump Winery) before coming to Slater Run Vineyards. She also works at Gabriele Rausse Winery as well as her family’s winery in France.

Other Notable Women in Virginia Wine: Christine Vrooman, co-owner and vineyard manager of Ankida Ridge; Kiernan Slater Patusky, co-owner of Slater Run; Elizabeth Smith, co-owner and general manager of Afton Mountain Vineyards; Lori Corcoran, winemaker at Corcoran Vineyards; Mills Wehner, co-owner of Chatham Vineyards; Dr. Sudha Patil, owner and winemaker at Narmada Winery; Chelsey Blevins, winemaker at Fifty-Third Winery; Corry Craighill, winemaker at Septenary; and Annette Boyd, director of the Virginia Wine Board marketing office.

Leona Baker
Author: Leona Baker

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