Women Winemakers: Eva Fricke
This past weekend has been so inspiring and I am feeling an overwhelming pride for our country because of how many women and men turned up at the Women's March and showed that they are willing to take action and fight for what they believe in. I hope and pray that this is the start of something so much bigger than one dude in a house of a certain color and that it will be a catalyst for change and R-E-S-P-E-C-T in our society. On that note, I am going to tie this all in to wine.
When I began working in the wine industry, I quickly noticed that it is traditionally male dominated. For example, in 2015 only about 10% of head winemakers in California were female, according to The Wall Street Journal. Not to discredit male winemakers (because this movement is about equality, after all), but studies have suggested that women have a more sensitive sense of taste and smell than men, so one would naturally assume that it's a career that a woman would excel in, yet the numbers don't match. It does seem to be heading toward a change however, as half of the 2015 graduating class of the Viticulture & Enology program at UC Davis
where I wish I had gone to school was female.
If it wasn't already obvious, I'm beginning a new series of posts that will feature wines and the talented women behind them. The winemaker I'm about to introduce you to has an inspiring story about achieving the accolades that only come with very hard work and perseverance.
Having come from a family of doctors in a small town in Germany, wine was not in the forefront of Eva's mind when she imagined her future career. Due to her family's history in Ethiopia, Eva wanted to spend time working in Africa and applied for a summer job at a winery in Cape Town, South Africa simply to get out there. She got the job and found that she enjoyed working at a winery, so when she began college she chose to study wine. She interned at Chateau Cissac in Bordeaux and with that experience she was accepted into a viticulture and oenology program at a school in Geisenheim, Germany. She was able to intern at more wineries around the world, including in Italy, Spain, and Australia. Eva was inspired by the terroir and culture of each of these regions, further igniting her passion for winemaking.
She later received a job as an assistant manager at a winery in Rheingau, Germany. She made her own wine on the side and her first production was 22 cases of wine in 2004. Two years later, she rented a vineyard, produced 76 cases of wine, and made her first sale. Eva decided to pursue an advanced degree so that she could manage the business portion of running a winery as well, all while still working as an assistant manager and making her own wine as a side hustle. She took night classes to obtain her Master's in Business Management, then quit her job to focus on running her own winery full time and was met with success.
Since then, Eva has received titles such as "Newcomer of the Year" and "Rising Star of the Year" from various publications, was included among the best young German winemakers, and among her admirers are the famed importer Terry Theise and wine critic Jancis Robinson (I'm not worthy!). She values growing grapes and producing wine with organic techniques and applied for organic certification last year. Wow, how's THAT for working hard for what you want? I don't know about you, but I feel super lazy now.
After learning more about Eva, I'm pumped to taste her Riesling. It has a clean, precise, and balanced profile and, oddly, my first thought was that it was like drinking the ringing of a crystal glass. Worst tasting notes ever, right? The wine is dry and I found that it had pure, ripe notes of pineapple, mango, kiwi, and lime along with a flinty finish and a whiff of floral aroma. It has a high level of acidity, which makes it very refreshing and a perfect Riesling for food. And way too easy to drink, I might add. I'm not saying these things just because I really wanted to like this wine, but I was truly impressed by it - it's quite lovely and I dare say that it's made it to the top of my favorite Rieslings list. Don't think twice about purchasing this wine if you see it.