Yakima Valley’s female winemakers are part of the change in the wine industry

At its best, wine tends to express feminine qualities. Taste a great wine and you enjoy delicate floral aromas, luscious fruit flavors, elegant textures and soft tannins. There has also been hints, by Yale University scientists, that women have a better sense of taste than men. Yet, the industry is dominated by men.

However, the tide is changing. More women than ever before are entering the wine industry, be it as a sommelier, viticulturist, or winemaker.

The Yakima Valley wine industry is part of that change. The following winemakers are breaking stereotypes and laying the groundwork for future women interested in entering the world of wine. These women are creating phenomenal wines and playing huge roles for the coming generation of women winemakers.

Jacki Evans

Originally from Austin, Texas. Jacki earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas with additional wine studies at Napa Valley College and UC Davis. She is a global harvest hopper with 16 harvests around the world including Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Napa Valley, and Willamette Valley. She’s been in the Yakima Valley making wine at Owen Roe Winery since the 2013 vintage. Jackie has created her own brand, Sin Banderas wines which are fabulous!

Wine to try: Owen Roe 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Outlook Vineyard, Yakima Valley.

This Sauvignon Blanc offers a fresh bright nose with pear and lemon curd. Flavors include grassy lemon with a hint of minerality. This the perfect wine for any summer dish or to simply enjoy on the patio. $27.

Cat Warwick

Carolina (Cat) Warwick is the co-owner/co-winemaker at Wit Cellars in Prosser. Cat has worked in the wine industry in the Yakima Valley since 2001 when she was pouring wine at Apex Cellars. She knew the wine industry was her calling. She enrolled in the Yakima Valley College Viticulture and Enology program and became one of the first graduates of the program. She has worked in viticulture and winemaking since her graduation.

Wine to try: Wit Cellars 2017 Petit Verdot.

Petit Verdot grapes have typically been used as the bones for world class blends. This single varietal wine is one of my year-to-year favorites, offering aromas of hibiscus, cranberry and passionflower tea with cherry and blackberry flavors. The finish includes hints of rose-hip and quince jam. $53.

Kelly Hightower

Kelly is the co-owner and co-winemaker at Hightower Cellars on Red Mountain. Her love affair with wine began when she was a student at UC Berkeley. While in Berkeley she enrolled at Santa Rosa Community College to study viticulture and enology. Unaware of how or where she would land, Kelly knew she would spend a career in the wine industry. She landed her first job in the accounting department of Columbia Winery in 1994, met her husband, Tim, and together they started Hightower Cellars.

Wine to try: Hightower Cellars 2019 Red Willow Cabernet Franc.

The fruit from this wine came from Washington’s famed Red Willow Vineyard. Knowing where the fruit is from and who produced the wine, you know this is a quality bottle of wine. It has the perfect balance of acid and tannin, making it a good choice to pair with food. But honestly, I can enjoy this wine on my back patio any day of the week. $36.

Barbara Glover is executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, an industry group representing member wineries. Her column runs every other week in Friday’s Explore section.

(0) comments

Comments are now closed on this article.

Comments can only be made on article within the first 3 days of publication.