The 25th annual Santa Barbara Vintners Celebration of Harvest Festival this past weekend included a seminar featuring six winemakers.
It was an opportunity for them to share their stories and talk about their wine in front of an audience of wine enthusiasts. One of the unique aspects of this seminar was that all six winemakers were women. It is not uncommon to find female winemakers in California. But, according to a 2015 survey from Santa Clara University, the reality is that out of 3,400-plus wineries in California, only 10 percent of lead winemakers are female.
Santa Barbara County is a relatively small wine region with 27,000 acres planted to grapes. It is home to 199 wineries which, on average, produce fewer than 5,000 cases each. Of these 199 wineries, at least 20 are run by women. Each one of these winemakers has a story to tell and had a wine to share.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register (October 23, 2015)
Tara Gomez fell in love with the aromas of wine the first time she stepped into a winery as a child.
Growing up in the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Gomez was raised in the heart of wine country. With a scholarship from her tribe, she studied enology at California State University, Fresno and was one of two women who graduated in 1998.
She went to work as an enologist at Fess Parker Winery before moving to Paso Robles to be the enologist and lab manager at J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines for nine years. She then moved to Spain for two years where she learned traditional styles and studied winemaking in the Pyrenees.