Women in wine: Cathy Corison

Who: Californian-native Cathy Corison. Cathy moved to Napa before it was the Napa Valley that is known and revered today. Back in 1975, it was rural, impoverished and still reeling from the effects of prohibition. On top of this, there was not a single woman to be seen or found in any cellar (she was told by a professor that she’d be better in a lab - less physical work). However, she was determined and enrolled at the UC Davis (University of California, Davis) to study wine and chemistry, with a master’s in enology. By the time she graduated, Napa was exploding and she found herself running a winery within eight months of graduation. After a few years, her solo project was born with her first vintage of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in 1987.

What: Kronos vineyard, purchased in 1995. This site is 8 acres of organically farmed, 50 year old pre-phylloxera Cabernet Sauvignon vines and one of the oldest left in Napa! Despite water being one of the biggest issues in California, Cathy is able to keep this dry-farmed (non-irrigated) due to its healthy eco-system. Their second vineyard is Sunbasket which was taken on in 2015.

This wine: Cathy was often laughed at in Napa, as she was picking her fruit weeks earlier than anyone else to preserve freshness and restrain the alcohol. She is also the first to admit that she yields so little fruit from her vines, that most would have uprooted and replanted the vineyard a long time ago, “It doesn’t make any financial sense, but the vineyard makes really good wine.” As such, her wines are unique in that they always find the perfect balance between power and elegance.

Why I love it? As we come to International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, I thought it would be great to highlight one of my favourite female winemakers and honestly, one of the best winemakers of our time. Cathy has dedicated her life to creating the outstanding Cabernet Sauvignons; concentrated, structured, inky and aromatic. Everyone deserves to know about these fabulous wines and this fabulous winemaker!