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Spanish Wine Academy

Soft Power: the women leading the way in Spanish wine

In partnership with Spanish Wine Academy

Winemaking is unanimously considered a craft of instinct as much as of knowledge. This might explain why women are increasingly taking the lead in the cellar, where a combination of technical expertise and heightened sensitivity come together to produce wines of expression and depth.

While having always and historically played crucial roles in the wine world, women often stayed in the background, giving protagonist to the men they stood beside of. This is certainly not the case anymore, with women firmly claiming their passion and talent for viticulture and winemaking, and being instrumental in shaping the future of some of Spain’s (and the world’s!) most important regions and estates.

Six leading Spanish Winemakers

Paula Fandiño

Chief Winemaker at Mar de Frades (pictured above)

With a passion for the Galician landscape and vines since an early age, Paula followed her vocation and graduated in Agricultural Engineering and Agronomy, with a focus on viticulture and oenology, from the University of Santiago. She’s been at the helm of the Mar de Frades cellar since 2007 and, under her management, the bodega elevated the quality and expression of its wine to new heights. She has applied her knowledge and eagerness to experiment, by exploring the potential of Albariño, the flagship grape of DO Rías Baixas. “Innovating is seeking the expression of the terroir and of the Atlantic in order to explain it to anyone who is looking for a modern, original glass of wine” Paula says.

Sara Bañuelos

Technical Director at Rámon Bilbao

Sara might be a Badajoz native, but now has Rioja running through her veins and soul. After graduating in Oenology and Agricultural  Engineering, she started working harvests and became part of different projects in her field of passion: viticulture and winemaking. Both practical and research experience have given her unique knowledge of the different terroirs of D.O. Ca Rioja  and DO Rueda, as well as of the secrets and people behind the cellars, big and small, that shape the region’s wine community. Armed with this deep understanding of the human and natural landscape of Castilla-León, she’s built a solid career as Technical Director at Bodegas Rámon Bilbao where she’s taken Verdejo to uncharted, and fascinating, territory.

Almudena Alberca MW

Technical Director at Entrecanales Domecq e Hijos

Although best known for being the first woman in Spain to achieve the title of Master of Wine, Almudena Alberca’s career is stellar in many other ways. After graduating in Agricultural Engineering she went on to complete a degree in oenology and a Masters in Viticulture. Following a first harvest at Villa Maria’s Vidal Estate, in New Zealand, she embarked on a period of extensive research and travel. Back in Spain, she honed her craft as winemaker at Viñas de Cenit (Zamora) and Dominio de Atauta (Ribera del Duero) and as the Spanish buyer for New York importer AvivaVino. Since 2015, she’s been at the technical helm of Entrecanales Domecq e Hijos, where she is also involved in PR, marketing and sales. Somehow she still finds time to work as a wine educator, writer, and ambassador for the UK-based fine wine investment company Oeno.

Rosana Lisa

Chief Winemaker at Lalomba

Rosana has been at the epicentre of Ramón Bilbao’s experimentation and innovation for years. Having graduated in Chemical Sciences from the University of Zaragoza and earned a second degree in Oenology from the University of La Rioja, she started her professional path at Bodegas Roda (Haro), Bodegas San Alejandro (Calatayud) and Bodega Cooperativa Cirbonera (Navarra). She joined Zamora’s wine division in 2011 where she worked as head of innovation for the group’s different wineries. Building upon that experience, she was entrusted with developing Lalomba, Ramón Bilbao’s terroir-focused project, where she now crafts a unique range of three expressive, award-winning, wines.

© Bodegas Williams & Humbert

Paola Medina

Technical director and oenologist at Bodegas Williams & Humbert

One of the most celebrated winemakers in Spain, Paola is among the leading figures of the ‘Sherry revolution’ which has infused new blood to Jerez. She graduated in Chemistry, Oenology and Viticulture from, respectively, the Universities of Granada, Cádiz and Madrid. Her professional path started in Ciudad Real where she worked as technical director for Bodega 14 Viñas. She eventually returned home in 2010, becoming the second generation of the Medina family at the helm of Williams & Humbert. Her technical skill, passion for Jerez’ tradition and eagerness to innovate have come together in wines now winning accolades the world over.

© Marqués de Murrieta

María Vargas

Chief Winemaker at Marqués de Murrieta

María was working as an assistant winemaker at Marqués de Murrieta, which she joined in 1995, when owner Vicente Dalmau Cebrián-Sagarriga challenged her to lead the winemaking team. At the tender age of 25, María hesitated, but Vicente eventually convinced her; he was sure she was the right person to bring more sense of place and elegance to the estate’s wines, while remaining loyal to tradition. His belief has proved right, with both the wines and María herself winning awards year on year. She is known for her masterful blending and tasting skills, a craft she honed at Marqués de Murrieta – she joined the company straight out from University and this is where she has flourished as one of Spain’s best oenologists.

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