Wine Guides

12 Women-Owned & Operated Wineries To Visit

Celebrate Women’s History Month all year round by adding these amazing female-owned wineries to your next California wine country trip!

By Logan Davis

March 14, 2022

Women-Owned Wineries Header Image: Camins 2 Dreams Founders

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What’s better than drinking a crisp glass of vino in the California sun? We can only think of one thing: drinking a crisp glass of vino made by incredibly talented women – anywhere, really. 

There’s a gender gap in the wine industry; women make up less than 10% of winemakers and winery owners in CA, with just 16% in the industry identifying as people of color.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve mapped out a guide of 12 exemplary wineries owned by women in California. Raise a glass and know that you’re supporting a more equitable industry by sipping quality wine made by women. 

Bay Area & Northern CA

Ser winery, Santa Cruz

Nicole Walsh is a surfing, winemaking, all around cool California girl crushing grapes in the Santa Cruz mountains. The ocean inspires everything she does, and she specializes in single-origin wines that honor their roots and terroir. 

After years in the industry – from Michigan to Costa Rica to New Zealand – Nicole opened her own winery, Ser. She marries her passion for sustainable agriculture with her love of cool-climate grapes to produce world class, sustainability grown wine. We're honored to can her Cabernet Pfeffer (a super rare grape that's out-of-this-world delish) Rose of Grenache, and Dry Sparkling Riesling. Swing by her tasting room in downtown Aptos for a taste and spend the day visiting the eclectic urban wineries of Santa Cruz.

Women Owned Wineries Post: Ser Tasting Room Photo

Reserve an outdoor tasting and dine on the special menu from their collab with nearby Cafe Sparrow. Photo credit: April Burkhart

Sutro Wine Co., Healdsburg

Alice Sutro is first and foremost an artist. Painter, sculptor, and now wine producer – she is serious about her craft, and graces everything she produces with her creative, thoughtful, whimsical touch. From her portraits of strong women to her weekly “Womxn in Wine” conversations on IG, she loves to celebrate women in wine, so we want to shine on her right back.

Alice lives and works among the vines at Warnecke Ranch in Healdsburg. Treat yourself to a day in the quaint, lovely town and make an appointment to visit; she’ll take you for a 45 minute nature hike of the storied vines that create her cult Cabernet and Merlot as part of your tasting – swoon. Alice is also the winemaker behind our Maker Cab Sauv, the highest rated canned red wine on the market today.

Alice Sutro, winemaker, showing Kendra, Maker co-founder, her vineyards

Maker Co-founder Kendra on a nature hike with Alice Sutro. Fun fact: Alice was married at this exact spot overlooking the Russian River.

Theopolis Vineyard, Mendocino

Theodoro R. Lee – otherwise known as Theo-patra, Queen of the Vineyards – is the award-winning winemaker behind Theopolis Vineyard. She’s a bold Anderson Valley vintner by way of a San Francisco courthouse; Theodoro used to be a trial lawyer, then decided she needed a drink.

Theopolis is known for its Petite Syrah (and Rosé of Petite Syrah, which we can’t get enough of). Drive amongst the gorgeous Mendocino Coast and find yourself at one of their events – which is the best way to engage with Theopolis – or pick up a bottle. We guarantee you’ll come back for more.

Theopolis Founder Theodoro R. Lee

Theo-patra, Queen of the Vineyards. Photo source: Theopolis

Handley Cellars, Mendocino

Milla Handley was the first female winemaker in the US to establish a label with her own name. An environmentalist, farmer, and expert vintner, she founded Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley in 1982 – and it’s been regarded as one of the finest ever since. See our guide to learn where else to taste in Anderson Valley

Now her daughter, Lulu, runs the operation and specializes in premium, organic Pinot Noir with minimal intervention winemaking. The Handley Estate is stunning, the matriarchal roots inspiring, and the wine award-winning – schedule a visit and soak it all in. The Maker & Handley Pinot was our fastest wine to sell out, ever. 

Handley Tasting Room in Spring, Anderson Valley

The lush outdoor patio at Handley Cellars in Anderson Valley. They are open by appointment Thursday through Monday. Tell Randy and Lulu we say hello.

Campovida, Hopland

Lush gardens, gorgeous views, good vibes. Campovida has six different tasting experiences, from cozying up to a private fireplace in their historic barn to a garden tasting and stroll, complete with a fresh, local cheese platter. Visiting Campovida is an experience, be sure to taste their organic Viognier or relax by the pool while you stay the weekend at their retreat. Your delectable wine is just a short walk away.

Campovida Wines and Maker Founders Cheers in Hopland

Maker founders visiting husband and wife owners Anna and Gary. Book one of their many experiences here.

Central Coast 

J Dusi Wines, Paso Robles

Janell Dusi’s wine roots start way back in the 1920s; grape growing has been a longstanding Dusi family tradition. But it was Janell’s grandfather who really made her fall for the craft, and she’s been passionate about Italian wines – especially Zinfandel – ever since.

Her boutique tasting room can be found in Paso Robles. Sip her Zin on the patio overlooking the vineyards and take home a bottle – or two. 

Maker founders at JDusi Winery, Paso Robles

The Maker team visits Janell Dusi and 95-year-old Zinfandel vines. J Dusi is open for tastings by appointment daily, 11 am – 4 pm.

Desperada, Paso Robles

Vailia is a free spirit who traveled for and worked in wine for over 19 years before opening her winery, Desperada, in Paso Robles. Referred to as "an up and coming star in the Central Coast” by Jeb Dunnuck in Wine Advocate, Vailia produces “inspired, elegant wines free of stylistic constraints.” Her Sackcloth and Ashes red blend is worth the trip alone and the labels are powerful, feminine, and stunning – depicting different versions of Venus or Diana from 19th century French paintings. 

Whether your vibe is crisp whites or an Italian or Bordeaux blend, Desperada has a beautiful glass waiting for you. Visit them for an in-person tasting.

Desperada Winemaker, Vailia

Vailia of Desperada Winery.

Stolo Vineyards, Cambria

Nicole Pope worked in wine harvests across South Africa, Australia, and Napa before falling for a vineyard in Cambria, CA. Her winemaking approach reveals the “natural beauty, texture, and purity of fruit” influenced by her proximity to the Pacific – it’s the pure expression of wine and their roots that Nicole is most passionate about, and that got her named as San Francisco Chronicle’s 2019 Winemaker to Watch

Make a reservation for a formal tasting with Nicole herself, or bring your pup and relax with a glass in the winery’s meadow. With Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and an outstanding Gewürztraminer on the menu – there’s something for every kind of wino. 

SoCal

Camins2Dreams, Lompoc

Mireia and Tara are the wife and wife pair who met as harvest interns. Born and raised in Spain, Mireia was steeped in the wine industry from a young age, as was Tara – a CA central coast native. Together they’ve harvested grapes in the Pyrenees Mountains of Spain, received Master’s in Enology and Viticulture, and now own and operate their own winery: Camins2Dreams. Their story is a beautiful one, and their wine is just as good. 

The duo are known for hand-crafted, terroir-driven wines that are fermented with natural yeast. Their virtual tastings are private, personal, and delicious – we wholeheartedly recommend it.

Mireia and Tara, Founders of Camins2Dreams

Mireia & Tara – the couple behind Camins2Dreams

Nagy Wines, Santa Maria

Originally a foodie, Clarissa Nagy fell into wine accidentally by making a batch of Viognier for a friend’s wedding. She was hooked, and spent the following 10 years working at some of the most esteemed wineries in California’s central valley – then eventually opening her own, Nagy Wines

Now, Clarissa’s heart’s in Pinot Noir and Syrah – they’re utterly delicious. Swing by her delightful winery in Santa Maria and taste ‘em for yourself. 

Casa Dumetz Wines, Los Alamos

Feminist, traveler, and all around badass Sonja Magdevski is the personality and expert vintner behind Casa Dumetz Wines. Sonja used to be a journalist – and even received a Fulbright once to conduct research in The Republic of Macedonia – striving for peace; now, she does that through wine. Every one of her bottles has a personal story and mission attached; like the Feminist Party, a personal fave. 

Their tasting room is in Los Alamos, CA – a charming, midcoast town with country vibes and a whole lot to offer. It’s an experience not to be missed. 

Casa Dumetz Winery: Founder Sonja

Sonja and our favorite bottle of hers: The Feminist Party.

Peak Ranch Winery, Santa Barbara

LA native Gill Wagner fell in love with the Santa Barbara countryside – and Peak Ranch, specifically – because of the rolling hills, golden light, and special people who seemed to roam the land. When she met her husband, John, they gave up city life, got winemaking certifications and credentials, and pursued their lifelong dream of owning a winery in the country. Their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay have won countless awards – every sip is a treat. 

As if you needed another reason to visit Santa Barbara’s wine country, the tasting room is open for reservations and is as stunning as could be.

We're excited for you to check out these wineries! Have another one we should add? Email us at hello@makerwine.com.

Here's a list and a map that you can save for later:

THE SHORTLIST

  1. Ser Winery: Santa Cruz

  2. Sutro Wine Co.: Healdsburg

  3. Theopolis Vineyards: Mendocino

  4. Handley Cellars: Mendocino

  5. J Dusi Wines, Paso Robles

  6. Desperada, Paso Robles

  7. Stolo Vineyards, Cambria

  8. Casa Dumetz Wines, Los Alamos

  9. Camins2Dreams, Lompoc

  10. Nagy Wines, Santa Maria

  11. Casa Dumetz Wines, Los Alamos

  12. Peak Ranch Winery, Santa Barbara

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