A group of Italian women winemakers is urging Japanese women to beat the feminist drum and liberate themselves from male domination.

The eight women from wineries as far apart as Piedmont and Sicily have joined forces to make it easier for women in Japan to choose and purchase wine in shops and restaurants.

Bottles destined for Japan from the women’s wineries are being marked with a specially designed logo incorporating the words ‘Onna no Wine’, which roughly translated from Japanese means ‘Women of Wine’.

‘The feminist overtones are a bit of fun,’ Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti of Badia a Coltibuono in Tuscany told decanter.com, ‘but we are keen that Japanese women should enjoy choosing wine and to be able to understand it. Until now wine has been marketed in a quite a staid way with more appeal to men than women.’

The initiative is the brainchild of Japanese wine importers Japan Europe Trading Co (JET), who unveiled it at Tokyo’s Asia-Pacific VinExpo at the beginning of this month. JET represents all eight of the wineries and is already distributing the wine to 300 restaurants and 200 specialist merchants.

According to JET, sales of Italian wines in Japan have risen from 100,000 cases in the 1980s to 3m cases today – a four-fold increase that has seen Italy’s share of the market grow from 6% to 23%. Italian wine’s more elegant and innovative styles appeal to Japanese palates, JET suggested.

Elisa Pierato of JET said, ‘The object is to create a source of inspiration for Japanese women, giving them a message of passion not only for the product itself, but also the work and the creativity involved in winemaking. Japanese women have a strong role to play in buying decisions.’

As well as Stucchi Prinetti – who broke through the glass ceiling when she was elected Italy’s first woman president of the Consorzio del Marchio Storico Chianti Classico – the group includes Alessandra Boscaini, daughter of Masi’s president Sandro Boscaini, Beatrice Contini Bonacossi of Capezzana in Tuscany, Maria Chiara Clerici of Valfieri in Piedmont, Francesca Colombini Cinelli of Fattoria dei Barbi in Tuscany, Elda Felluga of Friuli’s Livio Felluga, Chiara Soldati of La Scolca in Piedmont, and Francesca Planeta from Sicily’s Planeta.

Speaking at a conference at VinExpo, Planeta said that the saying ‘Behind every great man there is a great woman’ is old hat. ‘Now it is behind every great wine there is a great woman,’ she said.

Written by Liz Hughes18 June 2002