When Michelle Mandro published the first edition of her book Wine Country Women of Napa Valley in fall of 2107, she was motivated to “place a spotlight on an incredible group of women” working in her community.
She says that at the time she didn’t realize that her books, and adjacent podcast, would be at the “forefront of a worldwide movement” towards recognizing the impact of women on the global wine scene.
And yet just this month the country celebrates the first National Women in Wine Day on March 25, 2021, founded by Renae Perry and Yolanda Papapietro, owners of Papapietro Perry Winery in Sonoma County, California. Aligned with International Women’s History Month, the day is backed by a website listing leading women in the world of wine, with an option to nominate others.
Mandro herself has a footprint in the wine industry — she moved to Napa Valley in 2004 to take on the role of executive director of the American Institute of Wine & Food, which was started by Robert Mondavi, Julia Child and others on the “premise that gastronomy is essential to the quality of human existence.”
She says that a benefit of the job was her unique position to meet many women working in the field she supported. This made it possible for her to reach out to participants to share their story for the book. She sought out women from different age groups, geographical regions around the valley and diverse backgrounds.
The completed project, Wine Country Women of Napa Valley, contains original photography, family recipes and personal stories from more than sixty women, and features a foreword by Amanda Harlan. A second edition of the book, with a foreword by Robin Lail, is a condensed and updated version of the original.
Two follow up books, Wine Country Women of Sonoma County (available now) and Wine Country Women of Willamette Valley & Walla Walla (available for pre-order) feature women working in two of the most prominent wine regions in North America, expanding the footprint of the project outside of Napa Valley. “An incredible group of women have embraced my project,” says Mandro.
In addition, Mandro will soon release Wine Country Women Heritage Families, which is an intimate look at “women whose families were trailblazers” in the wine industry. “We combined their biographies with anecdotal family stories and added a splash of practicality with a reference of each woman’s favorite wine pairing.” The book is available for pre-order now and a portion of the proceeds from all pre-purchased books will go to The United Sommeliers Foundation.
This enthusiasm has also launched her Wine Country Women podcast, which recently released episode number 101, featuring Aurora Coria, winemaker at Coria Estates in Salem, Oregon. “I love sitting down with the women,” says Mandro. “I really enjoy those conversations.” (Typically, the podcast would be recorded in person, but for now they are conducted virtually.)
In addition to the books and podcast, readers and listeners can purchase tickets to attend exclusive food and wine events with Mandro and highlighted wine country women. More to come on scheduling for 2021.