Nine of the world's top women vintners on the joys of family vineyards, why cheap wine is often the tastiest and a great hangover cure.
Winemaker at Stellekaya Winery, South Africa
Which of your wines means the most to you?
My grandmother tasted one of the first wines I ever made, and that remains my most special memory—the enjoyment wasn't just about the wine but the fact that she'd helped me achieve so much.
What's your motto?
I won't drink bad wine. If I open a bottle and I don't enjoy it, I don't finish it. And if you can't drink it, you can't cook with it.
Wine director at the Modern, New York City
What draws you to a wine?
I'm a fairy tale drinker. If I'm having a Spanish red, I remember my time in Spain eating at great tapas bars and dancing until 7 A.M. I see this tendency in women a lot. Whereas guys often look for the famous wine, or the ones with the knock-you-out alcohol, women look for a wine that evokes a place or has a great backstory.
Do you have a favorite hangover cure?
After a rough night, I start my day with sparkling water to hydrate, Diet Coke for caffeine, and then a Bloody Mary.
Director of winemaking at Robert Mondavi Winery, Napa Valley
Which wine are you proudest of producing?
When President Obama received the Nobel Prize, our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon was served at the celebration dinner—and there's a picture of him toasting with it.
It's a Tuesday night—what's in your glass?
Pinot Noir—it's so easy to drink, and it goes well with lots of foods.
Wine director and owner of the acclaimed Italian restaurant A16, San Francisco
How do you find a good value on a wine list?
I always look for the bottles I haven't heard of—those that are from smaller producers, aren't advertised, and don't show up at every store. They're more likely to be delicious and interesting, without a pricey markup.
Colette Faller Proprietor of the biodynamic winery Domaine Weinbach, Alsace, France
What are you most proud of?
I carried on our family's domaine [vineyard and winery] after my husband died in 1979, because I wanted to preserve it for my children, and their children. Critics thought I wouldn't be able to maintain the high quality of the wines, but today our vintages are more respected than ever.
Is there a quality you like most in a wine?
If I'm drinking through a long meal, I want something with good acidity. It keeps the palate alive so I can keep enjoying the food.
President and winemaker at Bodega Catena Zapata, Mendoza, Argentina, and author of Vino Argentino: An Insider's Guide to the Wines and Wine Country of Argentina
How do you wow someone with wine?
I love to bring a wine from the year someone was born to his or her birthday party. I recently brought a 1939 Latour for my father's birthday. It was very expensive, but it was worth it. That it had been around as long as he had was precious.
You're an emergency room doctor in San Francisco. How do you manage two big jobs?
I usually spend half the year doing each, but there have been a few times when I worked a shift in the emergency room in California, then got on a plane that day for Argentina.
Ann Noble, PhD
Professor emerita, University of California, Davis, and creator of the Wine Aroma Wheel
Can you explain the aroma wheel?
It's an easy, intuitive way to help people describe the aromas in wine, using words like caramel, asparagus and green grass. Being able to talk about wines helps us understand and appreciate them.
Do you have a favorite piece of wine advice?
Go to places like Trader Joe's, which have lots of good, inexpensive choices. But don't drink the same two-buck Chuck every night. If you always drink the same thing, you might as well be drinking tomato juice.
Advocate for certified wine and cofounder of Bethel Heights Vineyard, Salem, Oregon
What would you like to be known for?
Helping to develop the Oregon Certified Sustainable Wine (OCSW) program, because it's a rigorous green label that actually means something. Today a third of Oregon vineyards are certified.
What's your best wine advice?
Ask your wine store to direct you to bottles certified sustainable by a reputable third party (like Demeter Biodynamic or OCSW). If consumers request it, retailers will take note.
Heidi Peterson Barrett
Winemaker and proprietress at La Sirena Winery, Napa Valley
What's the most impressive wine you've ever created?
One of my wines, the 1992 Screaming Eagle, holds the world record for the highest price ever paid for a single bottle of wine—half a million dollars.
What would surprise people about your job?
They'd be shocked at how much work winemaking is. This morning I was driving a forklift, loading up a truck, and bottling. It's not at all glamorous.
Next: 6 wine myths debunked
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, March 9, 2014
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