Women in the vineyard

Outstanding in Her Field: Meet the women turning male-dominated vineyard management on its heels

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Actually, some women want to drive tractors. While women have broken through barriers once keeping them out of the winemaker spotlight, vineyard management is still mostly dominated by men. Here in Oregon — perhaps more than any other wine region — women are changing the status quo. Small in number only, these forthright leaders are turning on its heel the notion that managing
vineyards is a man’s job.

Jessica Cortell, owner of Vitis Terra Vineyard Services, is no stranger to decidedly male environments. At 18, she fought forest fires to pay for college; she’s also raced mountain and road bikes among top competitors. Yet she’s always been a plant person. She studied chemistry for her doctorate before realizing her preference to work outside, not in a lab. Early in her career, while working with Dai Crisp in the ’90s at Croft Vineyard, she helped prune vines, a task not routinely assigned to women at the time. She recalls being the fastest and finest on the crew, earning respect from her male peers. Read the full story of these women winegrowers here on Oregon Wine Press.

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