Women only beginning to make their dent in winemaking | AspenTimes.com

Women only beginning to make their dent in winemaking

Faust Wines and Flowers Vineyards & Winery Estate Director Jen Beloz traveled to Aspen on March 1 to host the "Women in Wine" dinner at The Snow Lodge.
Courtesy photo

Coming up on her 25th harvest, wine industry veteran Jen Beloz knows what it takes to make it in the world of grapes.

She works as the estate director for two California vineyards — Flowers Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma and Faust Wines in Napa Valley. 

At the “Women in Wine” event at St. Regis’ The Snow Lodge on March 1, Beloz presented a selection of wines from each winery with a special menu from Chef Robert Sieber.

To a crowd of about 30 diners and drinkers, Beloz introduced herself and the wines as products of a partnership between passionate workers and the natural environments in which the grapes grow and thrive.

“It’s a woman, it’s Mother Nature, she’s really in charge of absolutely everything that we do in the wine industry,” she said.

Beloz’s career in wine spans two decades, and she said that the women she met along the way inspired her to follow her passion in a male-dominated industry. The winemaker at Flowers, Chantal Forthun, and winemaker at Quintessa in Napa, are among her peers. 

“Being a woman in business today means being recognized and rewarded for our talent, handwork and expertise — in wine, it is my unwavering commitment to the vines, the soils, and the wines we produce,” she said. 

According to Women Winemakers of California and Beyond, only about 14% of the more than 4,000 wineries in California employed a woman as head winemaker in 2020. Beloz and Forthun have worked together for over a decade, a rare partnership between women estate directors and winemakers. 

Faust Wines in Napa Valley / Faust Wines
Courtesy photo

The ecology of the two wineries tell two different stories. At the relatively high-elevation Flowers, grapes sit at about 1,400 feet above sea level in cooler temperatures amid ocean fog. At Faust, one of the region’s southeasternmost wineries in Coombsville, the grapes benefit from a volcanic soil bed and proximity to the San Pablo Bay.

“To me the thing that’s really incredible is the creative piece of the blending and crafting,” she said. “How do we really want to bring these very special vineyards and estates and grapes to life and the purest representation of what they are?”

And what they are varies from palate to palate. Servers poured Faust’s Cabernet Sauvignon, which gains a minerality and fresh acidity from its Coombsville climate. And Flowers’ Sonoma Coast Chardonnay tasted bright and a little acidic, and the Pinot Noir boasted a stronger tannin structure than most Pinot Noirs while still maintaining a hint of fruitiness. 

The variety in real and perceived flavor profiles kept Beloz’s interest in winemaking piqued for years and years. 

“We all have different tastes and I think that’s what’s so fun about wine. It’s living, it’s agriculture and every vintage is different because Mother Nature is different,” she said. “How it’s different every single year and then how this tastes today, versus six hours from now or a year from now or 10 years from now, is so cool. It’s a time capsule. But what matters is do you like it? There’s no right or wrong.”

Beloz started in the wine industry as a harvest intern nearly 25 years ago, laboring hard in cellars of a Spanish winery. There, she said, she learned more Spanish in those cellars during harvests than she had in the six months prior studying abroad in Spain.

After that experience, Beloz knew she was hooked. After cutting her teeth at wineries in Oregon, Beloz made her way to California. She said that the wine industry has come a long way in terms of gender equity since she first waded in, and she hopes she will be part of greater diversity and inclusion efforts to come. 

Faust’s cabernet sauvignon The Pact is “purest expression of the Faust vineyard.” / Faust Wines
Courtesy photo

“In the last five years, there’s been more recognition and acknowledgment of female winemakers and executives — with much more conscious efforts in making the wine industry more diverse and inclusive to all people regardless of gender or race,” she said. “I’m excited to see that continue and be a leader in supporting the professional growth of women in our industry.”