What is it about Sonoma and wine and women?

Tue Mar 16, 2010 11:38am EDT
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By Leslie Gevirtz

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - There must be something in the air. Maybe it's the fog? Maybe it's the soil? But there has to be something that has led so many women to make wine in Sonoma, California.

There is, of course, Helen Turley. America's answer to France's flying winemaker Michel Rolland. This grande dame of California cult wines has her latest venture, Marcassin Vineyards, 10 acres or so producing Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays on the Sonoma Coast.

In the 1980s, it was Judy Jordan who founded J Vineyards. Given her proclivities for sparkling wine, naturally enough she planted Chardonnay, and eventually Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

Merry Edwards, who has been making Pinot Noirs for more than 25 years, has her vineyard in Sonoma, and Theresa Heredia is making wine for the Phelps' family at Freestone Vineyards.

Now there comes La Crema's Melissa Stackhouse. La Crema is owned by Laura Jackson Giron and Jennifer Jackson, members of the Kendall Jackson family, one of the largest family-owned wine operations in the United States.

Stackhouse, 43, grew up in Michigan, a state better known for cars and beer than wine. Raised in a religious household where alcohol of any kind was not served, she went to Calvin College in Grand Rapids to study nursing.

"But I didn't feel passionate about it and I wanted to feel passionate about something. So I went to find something else."

She went to Washington State to sell classified ads for the Bellingham Herald. She went to Alaska to drive a motor coach and she went to New Zealand to work on farms.   Continued...

<p>A woman drinks a sample of red wine at the New York Wine Expo February 27, 2010. REUTERS/Natalie Behring</p>