Viader, of California's Viader Winery, answers our questions aboutworking as a woman in the wine industry.
Q: How did you become involved in the wine business?
A: Fell in love with California as a post grad student at UC Berkeley. My father was my very first "believer". He helped me financially for the initial seven-year investment.
Q: What were some of the hurdles, if any?
A: Many hurdles: the vineyard layout for high density (2,200 plants an acre) plus the beneficial sun exposure running the vine rows east to west as opposed to the norm were very controversial in those days. The Napa Board of Supervisors did not want to grant a permit since they said it had never been tried before. I had to present the many European existing layouts in Germany, Switzerland and the like. Finally with the help of the USDA and their Resource Conservation Unit (which did a study), we got not only approval but the board's endorsement as the proper way to develop a hillside vineyard containing the precious and scarce top soil within the property through innovative use of rock dams and ways to direct the flow to its natural direction
Q: What do you love most about your job?
A: The every day unending possibilities...Everything can be redesigned and reconfigured the following harvest for something even better than the previous year. There is never one only answer to anything or one variable to contend with. Mother Nature knows how to keep you entertained.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to do what you do?
A: Have lots of patience and a long long term vision. Be passionate about what you do because without passion your patience will give up
Q: How are women changing the wine industry?
A: There are many more possibilities for the nurturing side of women to benefit the industry; there are many more avenues in which the multitasking and ability to take care of the myriad of situations that we are confronted with in the industry gets put to good service! Women capture nuances and that is important not only in wine tasting and wine making but in the wine industry in general.
Q: What are some of the misconceptions about women and wine?
A: That because we cannot tolerate drinking as much in volume we don't have the capacity to discern quality. Quite the contrary! We have an inherent ability to discern minor nuances that add up to major differences in wines of elegance and finesse versus wines of sheer power with no complexity.
Q: Which of your own wines is your favorite and which wines do you generally prefer?
A: I like them all it's true, but the ones that give me most 'trouble' like the Petit Verdot are closer to my heart just like all 'troubled' children are. Cab Franc is a delight to work with but in the vineyard it is very difficult to get it 'balanced' -- Petit verdot is difficult in the vineyard and in the cellar all around. We called that blend "V".
Viader Winery, 1120 Deer Park Road, Deer Park, Calif., 707-963-3816, viader.com.