17 Mar A feminine touch in Yakima Valley wine
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 have also been hints, by Yale University scientists, that women have a better sense of taste than men. But yet, the industry is dominated by men.
However, the tide is changing, slowly– but it 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.
Winemaker Sarah Fewel co-owns Cultura Wine in Zillah.Sarah immersed herself into the industry by helping at neighboring wineries and taking classes to learn the business of wine and winemaking. In 2005, she and her husband launched their inaugural wines.
One wine that sets Cultura apart is Merlot. In 2013 screenplay writer Rex Pickett, best known from the movie Sideways, visited the winery. He participated in a blind tasting and raved about the Cabernet Sauvignon in his glass. Upon learning the wine was a Merlot, he was convinced it was a joke. Picket realized the wine in his glass truly captured a sense of place.
Kerry Shiels is the winemaker for Côte Bonneville in Sunnyside. Shiels originally chose Engineering as her areer of choice. After six years of
working for Fiat she realized her heart was in agriculture. She moved to California and earned a Master’s degree in viticulture and enology from UC Davis. She has worked grape harvests all over the globe. While in Australia she became enamored with Syrah. She expanded the range of wines showcasing her family’s DuBrul Vineyard, including Syrah in 2010, and Train Station Cabernet Sauvignon in 2013.
Jacki Evans, winemaker for Owen Roe winery in Union Gap.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 and recently created her own brand Sin Banderas.
Carolina (Cat) Warwick is the c0-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 too knew the wine industry was her calling. She enrolled in the Yakima Valley College Viticulture and Enology program and became the first graduate of the program. Cat has been making wine since graduating.
Kelly Hightower is the co-winemaker at Hightower Cellarson Red Mountain.Kelly’s love affair with wine began while she was a student at UC Berkeley. While in Berkeley she enrolled at Santa Rose Community College to study viticulture and enology. She couldn’t get enough of this complex beverage. 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, together they started Hightower Cellars.