Less than 10% of California wineries have a woman as lead winemaker, according to a new study.

The project, based on an survey of over 3,200 California wineries, lists women-run wineries in a new website, www.womenwinemakers.com.

The report’s authors found that the number of female lead winemakers varied significantly across the region, ranging from under 5% in southern California to over 12% in Sonoma and Napa.

Study co-author Lucia Albino Gilbert suggested that ‘visibility’ engendered by winemakers like Heidi Bartlett, Helen Turley, Mia Klein and Celia Welch could increase opportunities for other well-qualified women.

This was ‘important factor in changing views of women’s abilities’ in a male-dominated industry, Gilbert told Decanter.com.

In spite of the wide gap between men and women in lead winemaking positions, Gilbert notes ‘a positive trend in the U.S.’ and she expects the overall percentage of women in lead winemaking roles to reach ‘15-20% in the next few years, especially in Napa and Sonoma.’

Although no data was collected outside California, Gilbert ‘hypothesises’ that the glass ceiling would be ‘similar in the states of Oregon and Washington, but lower in states such as Texas and in countries like France and Italy.’

Written by Panos Kakaviatos