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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
While watching the Red Carpet during the Golden Globes the other night, I was motivated by what actress Natalie Portman said: “We have realized the scope of what we have lost, of the creative contributions of people who have been pushed out of the [film] industry. And when we think of other industries and what women have been pushed out of and the contributions we have lost because of that…it has to change; it is time to change.”
It had me thinking of the wine industry and the contributions women have made and will continue to make. I thought about some of the women that I met on my trip to Porto and Douro recently.
For such an historical region, with wine production dating to the 18th century when it was noted as the first demarcated region in the world, it has been dominated by men. But I learned an interesting fact: A woman is the person considered the leader in winemaking innovations and one of the leaders in the history of the Douro Valley.
A Ferreirinha (1811-1896), born Antónia Adelaide Ferreira, was the first woman to head a Port company after inheriting vineyards from her family. Widowed at 33 years of age, she became the executive of the estates and is attributed with leading the cultivation of Port wine. During the time of phylloxera, which destroyed many of her own vineyards, she traveled to England to learn modern techniques to fight it and brought American rootstock back to Portugal. She also learned winemaking processes that she incorporated back in Portugal.
Though A Ferreirinha is the first woman of Port and her contributions to the industry are ever-lasting, there are many women working there today who are also contributing to the future of Portuguese wine. Here are the women I met on my trip:
Ana Paula Filipe Castro of Quinta das Chaquedas
I had the pleasure to visit Ana Paula at her home in the heart of Douro, approximately three kilometers from Peso da Regua. Ana Paula Filipe Castro was working as a lawyer in Porto when she and her husband, a lieutenant colonel in the military, purchased property in the Douro. They started with six hectares with existing vines and built their home on the property. Ana Paula, her husband and their three daughters moved into the house in 2006 and their first vintage was 2010. They purchased 14 additional hectares in Pinhao, a warmer area to the east.