The Art   Of      living

The refinement of Bordeaux seeps into all aspects of its culture, history and lifestyle. Our series of articles is intended to inspire and entertain.

Women and Wine

It is no secret that the business of wine used to be a boy’s club.  But, for centuries, women have become increasingly interested and involved. The days of wine being “a man’s business” are a distant memory as more and more women continue to make their mark in wine. 

Looking back in time, there are a number of great women who boldly paved the way for their present-day sisters. Because these leading ladies played such a key role in opening the industry to women, we feel it fitting to take a look back at their stories.

It all began in the 12th century with Eleanor of Aquitaine, daughter of William X, Duke of Aquitaine. In 1152, Eleanor married Henry II, Duke of Normandy. This union was made all the more important when Henry II was crowned King of England in 1154, uniting France and England in an intimate, familial bond. The marriage gave birth to a unique relationship between England and Eleanor’s motherland in southwestern France. Trade between the two regions swiftly gained momentum, including the export of wines from Bordeaux. As a result, Eleanor’s sons, Richard The Lionheart and John Lackland, would grow up to become Bordeaux wine devotees and ambassadors, promoting their love of the wines around the globe.

In the 18th century, Françoise Joséphine de Lur-Saluces found herself at the head Château d’Yquem after the untimely death of her husband. She took it upon herself to improve the estate, eventually providing a springboard for the label’s international reputation.

In the early 20th century, as men were being sent off to war, the women were left to maintain the chateaux and vineyards. Around Bordeaux, the women became towers of strength and allowed wine production to continue in their husbands’ and sons’ absence.

Today, women are winegrowers, winemakers, sommeliers, and oenologists, as well as wine traders, distributors, tasters, and connoisseurs. Whether it’s in the vineyard, in a cellar or in a store, women are equal players in the wine industry. Still, they are still a minority representative in the business. As such, networking groups are often a way to have greater impact, and the results are telling. For example, there are the “Aliénors,” a group of twelve women from a dozen different Bordeaux vineyard appellations. Together, these wine aficionadas produce and promote their red, white, and sweet Bordeaux wines through effective marketing campaigns that promote their relationship. 

Women have proven countless times that their presence is essential to the region. An even brighter future is taking shape right before their eyes.


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