Women scale the grapevine through the glass ceiling - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Women scale the grapevine through the glass ceiling

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Posted: Wednesday, May 21, 2003 10:31 am | Updated: 2:17 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

When it comes to ordering wine at restaurants, who’s handed the list? Usually the man.

However, women account for 68 percent of all retail wine sales in the United States, according to Wendy Lamer, director of education for Tempe-based Southern Wine & Spirits. She said it’s because because they’re the ones out running errands and buying groceries.

The majority of winemakers are male, too.

The Wine Institute, an industry advocacy group in California, doesn’t track winemaker gender, but Lamer estimated about 30 percent of winemakers in California are women. However, in Bordeaux, France, she knows of none.

But more women are getting into the business.

When Lamer first began selling wine 20 years ago at Happy Herman’s liquor store in Atlanta, she said there were hardly any women in the wine industry. "They didn’t want to hire me because they didn’t think I could lift the cases of wine," she said, even though she was fresh out of the military and quite capable.

But in the past five to seven years, there’s been a dramatic increase in women in wine, Lamer said. She said women like Andrea Immer, one of just 11 female master sommeliers in the world, are visible role models through her book "Great Wine Made Simple" and her partnership with Target.

Lamer added that at Southern, about 40 percent of the sales staff is female. AJ’s Fine Foods has three female cellar masters, and women co-own several area wine stores, including My Wine Cellar in Ahwatukee Foothills, Bacchus Wine Made Simple in Scottsdale, Sun Devil Liquors in Mesa and Grapeables in Fountain Hills.

Women in the food business have faced similar obstacles. The 2003 James Beard Awards, as usual, were dominated by men. Not one of the nominees for best chef in the Southwest was a woman.

This is probably because there aren’t nearly as many female chefs de cuisine out there — women tend to be pastry chefs or sous-chefs.

It’s perplexing, because women tend to be the ones who cook at home. But when the work comes with a paycheck, they’re not trusted with the task.

The Wine, Women & Jazz benefit Sunday at the Ritz-Carlton Phoenix hopes to showcase 23 of these lessvisible women who have contributed to the success of the local dining and drinking scene.

The jazz comes in with local vocalists Margo Reed, Delphine Cortez and Blaise Lantana. Proceeds will benefit Arizona Women’s Partnership, which will donate the money to 10 nonprofits.

Participating female chefs include Deidre Pain of Malee’s on Main, Solange Guerra of The Melting Pot, Suzanne Perrotto of The Wrigley Mansion Club, Patricia Christofolo of Santa Barbara Catering, Michelle Morrison of Wyndham Buttes Resort, Mimi Rodriguez and Cindy Caiazzo of A League of Our Own, Judy Palmer of Ganache This, Leigh Blakemore of Scottsdale Culinary Institute and many more.

Even the wine is femaleoriented, with most of the wineries having female ownership or winemakers, including Clos du Bois, Domaine Carneros, Emmolo, Lungarotti, Markham, Newton, Sebastiani, Selby and Yalumba.

Wine is being donated by AJ’s, Trader Joe’s, Dos Cabezas Winery and Southern Wine & Spirits.

Jan D’Atri, host of KAZTV’s (Channel 13) "Heart & Home" and owner of D’Atri’s Restaurant at Scottsdale Airpark, will serve as the master of ceremonies. Round-trip airfare for two to any European destination served by Lufthansa Airlines will be raffled at the event, along with other prizes. There will also

be a silent auction.

Wine, Women & Jazz When: 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday Where: Ritz-Carlton Phoenix, 2401 E. Camelback Road Cost: $50 in advance; $65 at the door Information: (602) 863-9744 or www.azwp.org

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