It’s a known fact that the restaurant industry is dominated by men. Simply put, the majority of restaurant and winery owners, chefs, winemakers, and sommeliers are men. However, Bloomberg Business reports that the trend is shifting, particularly in the world of wine. More women are taking on the roles of wine directors and master sommeliers. This year, only seven of the 63 people who took the final master sommelier exam passed, and two of the seven were woman. One was Élyse Lambert, a wine consultant based in Montreal who said, “There were very few female somms when I started out 15 years ago. I began as a waitress. An MS after my name is important to me—and it helps change the image of women and wine in the restaurant world.”
Another woman paving the way is Shelley Lindgren of San Francisco. The wine director and owner of A16 and SPQR restaurants, Lindgren had to fight stereotypes and old-fashioned sexism early in her career. She was passed over for a sommelier job because the restaurant owner didn’t think she was capable of carrying a case of wine. Lindgren persevered, and this May, she was given the James Beard Award for outstanding wine program.
These are just two cases, but the article goes on to cite many more woman doing great things as sommeliers. As Marika Vida, the wine director at the Ritz-Carlton in New York, puts it, “Men are sometimes in a state of shock when I tell them I am the wine director. Ultimately, I think they find it alluring. Women guests think it’s very cool—we’re helping the sisterhood.” A sisterhood we can get behind and raise a glass to, as well.
Channel your inner sommelier with these Chardonnay and Chablis wineglasses by Riedel.
Do you know any women working in the wine world? Tell us about them below.