The Leading Ladies of Wine

International Women's Day is soon upon us (March 8th), an occasion to celebrate women everywhere and the amazing ladies shaking up the wine industry. We've gathered a collection of exciting stories, inspiring advice (if you want to leave everything behind and set up a winery in France, there's no time like the present!) and of course exquisite wines from some of our brilliant growers.

Agnès Paquet

Domaine Agnès Paquet, Burgundy, France

Agnès's family had owned a vineyard in Auxey-Duresses since the 1950s. When her parents decided to sell it, she decided to save this heritage and start managing the estate herself.
Fresh out of business school and with no knowledge of growing vines, Agnès learned how to work the land and make amazing wine. Her first vintage was 2001 and she's been delighting us with beautiful wines ever since.

Corinne Seely

Exton Park Vineyard, Hampshire

Corinne is the Head Winemaker at Exton Park, a relatively new vineyard, set on the slopes of the wide rolling chalklands at the heart of Hampshire. Corinne’s winemaking career began in Bordeaux with Chateau Lynch Bages and Domaine de Chevalier and, since then, has flourished in Australia, the Languedoc, the Douro, and now England. At Exton Park, her skill in producing elegant sparkling wines with character and finesse is very evident, and her philosophy of creating non-vintage wines to suit the English climate is widely respected.
The team at Exton Park have a strong commitment to the environment, so Corinne works in an eco-friendly cellar room, with solar panels providing the power for the temperature control.
In the video below, Corinne talks about the joy of being a winemaker and what it takes to succeed in the industry.

Ester Nin

Familia Nin Ortiz, Catalonia, Spain

The prestigious Família Nin-Ortiz Priorat wines are made by Ester Nin and her husband Carles. Ester Nin's day job is being ‘the right hand’ of Daphne Glorian of Clos I Terrasses. Ester bought a tiny parcel (less than 3 acres) of old vines on the steepest hillside slopes above the village of Porrera. Like Clos Erasmus, Nit de Nin is made using biodynamic techniques.
Ester and Carles farm using exclusively organically materials, biodynamic infusions and make their own compost. All the work is manual and fermentations are natural, taking place in neutral vessels such as foudre, demi-muid or amphorae, where the wines are also aged. Ester's wines are incredibly pure, elegant and balanced.

Francesca Vaona

La Giaretta, Veneto, Italy

Francesca and her husband Francesco run the estate located in Valgatara, a small hill town that lies in the heart of the classic Valpolicella region. The vineyard has been in the family since late 1950s and now Francesca and Francesco are carrying on the passion and vision of the first founder. They produce the lot from the lighter dryer Valpolicella to its sturdier brother Amarone della Valpolicella, which are the two most important red wines in the Veneto, all the way to the sweet Recioto. For several generations, the winery has produced and bottled wine obtained exclusively from grapes grown on the estate including the Valpolicella, the Ripasso and the Amarone.
Introduced to us at Vinitaly 2006, the wines from La Giaretta have rapidly established themselves as among the most popular of our portfolio.

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre Wines, Burgundy, France

Melbourne-born Jane Eyre-Renard, having got the wine bug, worked the vintage in Burgundy before studying winemaking at Charles Sturt University, and then completing stages at Cullen in Margaret River, and Felton Road in New Zealand. She came back to Europe in 2003 and worked 3 months for Ernie Loosen in the Mosel before getting a job in Burgundy with Domaine des Comtes Lafon in January 2004.
Our Wine Director Tom Harrow met Jane for the first time in 2014 whilst staying with a mutual friend and was really impressed with her wines. Talking about the UK market she observed wryly "if I can't appeal to the British market with my name then I'm in trouble".
Her 2013 Corton-Renardes received 95 points from Jamie Goode and was featured last month in the Revue de Vins de France as one of their wines of the year.

Nicole Sierra-Rolet

Chêne Bleu, Provence, France

Nicole is the Principal the critically acclaimed winery Chêne Bleu. She took a chance and did what many people probably dream of - she left her job as an investment banker and bought an estate in France with her husband in 1994. The property was abandoned and in very poor condition and, through hard work and dedication, Nicole has turned it into one of the rising stars of French fine wine.
From the very beginning, Nicole was immersed in managing the renovation of the estate and in the flourishing wine production. With no background in wine, she started form scratch and completed courses in the UK, US and France train as a vintner and develop her palate.
Now Chêne Bleu wines are gathering medals around the world and are leading the way in biodynamic farming.
When she is not looking after the winery, Nicole works with supporting and empowering entrepreneurial women, as acting chair of the London chapter of global women’s network Feminin Pluriel, delegate of Lead(Her)ship, judge and presenter at the Women of the Future Awards.
We met with Nicole to discuss Chene Bleu, entrepreneurship and the wine industry. Watch the videos below for the full interview.