Women in the Wine World

Women in the Wine World

Today we raise our glasses to the fierce females who have dedicated their lives to the art and business of wine. Through their various leadership roles, they have broken barriers and uncorked new opportunities, inspiring newly budding female oenophiles to follow their passion. Let us acknowledge and celebrate their enduring commitment and profound influence on the world of wine.

Debbie Grove, VP of Product Management at Willow Park Wines & Spirits

We kick off this illustrious list with someone we truly cherished, our very own Vice President of Product Management, Debbie Grove. As we celebrate three decades of success, Debbie emerges as not just a leader but a cornerstone of our narrative. Since the inception of Willow Park Wines & Spirits in 1994, Debbie has been at the core of our operations, infusing her profound expertise and passion into every facet.

At her roots, Debbie started the business-to-business division and seamlessly transitioned into roles encompassing purchasing and inventory management. From securing the best deals to orchestrating weekly sales and meticulously managing our inventory, Debbie navigates it all with finesse.

Beyond her multifaceted responsibilities, her recognition at the Enthronement Ceremony in Porto stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to the advancement and advocacy of fine wines. Holding the WSET Award in Wines Level 2 certificate further underscores her commitment to ongoing education. Debbie has also traversed over 13 regions globally, including Spain, Germany, Australia, and Chile to help possess an in-depth understanding of the exquisite products lining our shelves.

We take immense pride in honouring Debbie Grove as a formidable woman in the industry. Her comprehensive grasp of the store’s processes, from tip to toe, is invaluable. Each day, we are privileged to benefit from the wisdom and passion she brings to the table.

Madame Clicquot, the Grande dame of Champange:

At the youthful age of 21, Barbe Nicole Clicquot Ponsardi entered into matrimony with Francois Clicquot. Back then, the Clicquot family primarily focused on the textile industry, with wine as a mere side venture. Tragically, the fates rendered her a window at the tender age of 26. Seeking solace and purpose, she turned to her father-in-law, requesting to helm their wine enterprise. In the late 1700’s, the notion of a woman assuming such a role was unprecedented. Yet, recognizing her potential, her father-in-law entrusted her with the reins of the business.

With unyielding determination and fervent passion, she propelled the Champagne house Veuve Clicquot into the globally renowned entity it is today. Her pioneering spirit birthed numerous innovations that revolutionized the industry. Noteworthy among her contributions are the inception of the first vintage champagne, the creation of the first known blended rose champagne, and the ingenious invention of the riddling table.

Barbara Banke, Chairman & Proprietor of Jackson Family Wines

Barbara Banke has propelled the Jackson Family Wines company to new heights with her unwavering passion for the wine industry. Following her late husband’s passing in 2011, Barbara took the helm of the company they had co-managed for over 20 years. Overseeing a portfolio of over 40+ wineries, including renowned names like Kendall-Jackson, Tenuta Di Arceno, Stonestreet, and Cardinale, is no small feat.

An innovator with a keen eye on the future, Barbara Banke leverages her background as a former land use and constitutional law attorney to strategically navigate the company’s growth. Beyond business success, she is deeply committed to philanthropy, with nearly $4 million dedicated to the Sustainable Winery Building at UC Davis and over $500,000 contributed to launch the Family Justice Center Sonoma County for domestic violence to name a few.

Barbara’s leadership extends to fostering diversity within her company, with a commendable 61% of Jackson Family’s winemakers being women. When not immersed in the world of wine, she is actively involved in Stonestreet Farm, the family’s facing stables, showcasing her multifaceted interests and dedication to excellence.

Madeline Triffon, North America’s first female Master Sommelier:

Madeline Triffon blazes the trail as a beacon of excellence in the wine industry. With only 168 professionals in the Americas holding this prestigious title, and just 25 of them being women, her achievement is truly remarkable.

Madeline’s journey began in 1977 after high school when she had interest embarking into the medical field. However, fate led her to a job at a French restaurant at the Westin in Detroit. As she immersed herself in the world of wine, she quickly rose to the position of wine buyer for the Westin, laying the foundation for her deep passion for all things wine-related.

In 1987, Madeline made history by becoming the first female in North America to pass the rigorous Master Sommelier exam, narrowly missing out on the world title to Claudia Harris from the UK in 1984. Despite the exam’s 10% pass rate, her unwavering dedication and expertise prevailed.

- Samantha Nelmes