Being a woman in the wine industry

Margot Ducancel


Forget about all-male clubs. Over the past decades, women’s interest in wine never stopped growing. After centuries being left out of the loop, they finally reached key positions in the wine industry – with 49% of female employees, Château de Pommard is a perfect example of this shift. The media started covering news about women winemakers, not only because of their gender but of the quality of their wine. Classes were created to educate these new consumers and teach them some tips and history that most men still don’t know about. With their thirst for knowledge, women managed to carve out a place for themselves in a resolutely male universe, where old habits die hard. Yet, being a woman in the wine industry can still be challenging in 2019, and our ambassadors won’t deny it. One of them is French; the other one, American. Both personify our definition of commitment, and believe that empowering women can make the world a better place. They agreed to share their story with us on this International Women’s Day.


Margot Ducancel
Meet Margot Ducancel, The Blogger Who Wants To Change The Rules Of The Game

Once an art expert, Margot Ducancel somehow became a wine passionate by accident. Now an established blogger, she launched a wine club entirely dedicated to women held in Paris once every six weeks, where she shares her knowledge and encourages a group of – often shy- wine lovers to express their thoughts and feelings about wine.


Margot Ducancel

“With no family ties or connection to the wine industry, I always felt like an outsider in a codified universe. My career in wine became at Artcurial, a world-famous auction company. There was no room in the culture department anymore, my first passion, so I became in charge of wine authentication. The first time I came across a Grand Cru from Bordeaux, I didn’t even know how to spell it! As a young and inexperienced woman in a male environment, it took me a while to feel legitimate and stop sweating anytime I would have to taste alongside a winemaker. It takes some courage to face them! Enrolling into a Wine Marketing and Management program and taking the WSET levels 2 and 3 helped me get more confident. As I fed myself with articles and blog posts to expand my knowledge, I realized that none of the websites I visited were designed for women. At the same time, it stroke me that most of my girlfriends loved wine, but they didn’t have the tools to know it. There came my concept: Du Rouge aux Lèvres is a platform dedicated to women, where I explain the basics of wine with a light and quirky tone. The wine club is the natural continuation of the blog. I love the idea of a women-only circle: behind closed doors, they don’t think twice before asking a question or challenging themselves. Whether they are wine lovers or socialites, they get more confident in their abilities to taste and express their feeling about a wine. Overall, wine knowledge is part of a more global quest of wellbeing and well-eating, resulting in enjoyment.”

Kristie Petrullo
Meet Kristie Petrullo Campbell, The Chef Sommelier Who Believes Gender Shouldn’t be Decisive

3,625 miles away, American entrepreneur Kristie Petrullo Campbell knows how lonely you can feel as a woman in the wine industry. Between 2010 and 2012, she was the Chef Sommelier at Jean Georges in New York City. Back then, she was the only female to hold this title at a three-Michelin starred restaurant in the US, Italy, Germany and France. Now the founder of Petrullo Wine Company, a consulting firm focused on the wine needs of industry professionals, connoisseurs, and enthusiasts created in 2012, she realizes that empowering women and granting them access to wine knowledge may be a huge progress, it’s not an end in itself.

"Things are changing. With more and more women in the wine industry and even a new generation of male sommeliers, the norm is shifting. "

Kristie Petrullo Campbell
“As a woman, there have definitely been instances where I felt discriminated against. Much of time it came from a guest in the restaurant rather than the chefs or managers. As they were looking through the wine list, I would ask if they needed assistance. Some guests would reply “You?”. Another asked “What would your father drink?”. Well, the truth is, my father would drink whatever I would suggest because he doesn’t know that much about wine! It was really frustrating at the beginning, especially as a young woman in this industry. Towards the end of my career as a sommelier, my ego didn’t play as big a role and I got used to it. The more confident I became with my abilities, the less concerned I was about whether the guests wanted to speak with a female. And at the end of the day, I just wanted to sell wine, so if someone had an issue with my gender and asked for one of my male sommeliers, I would send him, period. I still feel the frustration as a consumer, when people systematically hand my husband the wine list. And even though I order the wine, they still pour him a taste! But things are changing. With more and more women in the wine industry and even a new generation of male sommeliers, the norm is shifting. Today, I reached a point in my career where I am no longer treated poorly or doubted, and when there are questions about my background, I think of them as proofs of pure interest, not as an insult. Yes, I have been asked a hundred times how I got to this place? Where did I grow up? What did I study? But I keep a positive outlook, and, as redundant as it can be to give the same answer over and over, I don’t want to shut people out. We have to share our stories if we want them to become the new norm for women; I am actually very proud when I read about a woman succeeding in the wine industry. Yet, when I see an entire wine list dedicated to women winemakers, I am conflicted about it. If the wine is good, why the need to mention it’s made by a woman? I hope that we will get to the point where you pick something for being good, not just because it was made or selected by a male or female. We’re going in the right direction!”
At the Simone Awards Board, we have a dream. We dream that tomorrow, gender won’t be a criterion anymore. We dream that women will help spread the word about wine, just because they love it and are committed to sharing their passion with the world. We dream that women will finally hold more and more key positions in the wine industry, just because they are as good at their job as any other men. Yet, dreaming is not enough. In 2019, women still need support, and this is why Julie Carabello, Château de Pommard propriétaire, created the Simone Awards. Whether it’s in the wine world or any other industry, we believe that encouraging committed women to pursue their actions will help turn the world into a better place. You might know yourself how it feels to be so dedicated to a cause that it consumes your whole being, your every waking moment, and all of your thoughts—even when the world tells you, you’re crazy? You or someone you know may be our next recipient. We are sure somewhere around the world, many special women are living this definition of commitment. Nominations for the Simone Awards 2020 are now open.