Women in winemaking
Following traces in Bulgaria and France
Throughout history, women have played an important role in winemaking, from planting and harvesting grapes to fermenting and bottling wine. In Bulgaria and France, two countries with a long and rich wine culture, women have made significant contributions to the winemaking industry.
“Wine was always a passion for me because through wine I can reach different worlds and cultures,” says Ivanka from Bessa Valley’s wine team. She works on the science behind our wine business, in the laboratory, where wine is perfected.
Ivanka from Bessa Valley’s wine team
Bulgaria is a country with a long history of winemaking, dating back to the Thracians who inhabited the region over 4,000 years ago. Women have been an integral part of the Bulgarian wine industry for centuries, working as vineyard laborers, cellar workers, and winemakers.
“Women are good wine makers because of the emotions and the sensibility related to wine. We understand that, as women,” says Ivanka, Bessa Valley’s wine team.
What connects us with women in winemaking is the legend behind the name of our wine. Enira was a daughter of Thracian wine-traders from the family of the Zagori. Enira Once upon a time, in the remote and beautiful region of Zagori, there was a wine trader family who had a daughter named Enira. From a young age, Enira was enamored with the art of winemaking and would often accompany her parents to the vineyards to learn the secrets of the trade.
Enira became increasingly passionate about carrying on this legacy. When her father descended from this world the only and left her only the craft of wine trading. She took an adventure to the East, searching for the mystical teacher – Ekhar. She wanted to know what the secret of a good trader is, because her father never said a word. He – typical of any good teacher – puzzled her with puns and tests.
At the end the moral of their meeting concluded with the secret that stated: “There is strength in silence and trust. The good merchant. Strong is any trader who has tamed words, but twice as strong is he who has tamed silence in commerce. This gift was bequeathed to you by your father.”
“The profession of a wine technician is multi-layered and dynamic and in the female nature it is set, for us to adapt to the environment, to have patience, to bring people together, to have a feeling for the detail and strong intuition,” shares Bozhina, Bessa Valley’s wine technician.
However, in historical background , it wasn’t until the 19th century that women began to play a significant role in the industry. One of the most prominent women in Bulgarian winemaking history was Lyubka Staneva, who in the 1930s became the first Bulgarian woman to earn a degree in oenology. Staneva went on to work for some of Bulgaria’s top wineries, where she helped to improve the quality of Bulgarian wines and introduced new winemaking techniques.
Bozhina, Bessa Valley’s wine technician
Another notable woman in Bulgarian winemaking history was Penka Nikolaeva, who in the 1970s became the head winemaker at Vinprom Peshtera, one of Bulgaria’s largest wineries. Nikolaeva helped to modernize the winery’s production methods and introduced new grape varieties, leading to a significant improvement in the quality of Bulgarian wines.
In the 20th century, however, women’s roles in the Bulgarian wine industry began to change. During the Communist era, the government nationalized many of the country’s vineyards and wineries, and women were given equal opportunities to work in the industry. Many women received training as winemakers and became leaders in their field.
France is one of the most famous wine-producing countries in the world, with a long history of viticulture dating back to the Roman era. Women have played an important role in French winemaking since ancient times, when they were responsible for the cultivation and care of the vines. Women were also involved in the production of wine, serving as winemakers, cellar masters, and even sommeliers.
During the Middle Ages, women continued to play an important role in the wine industry, often working alongside their husbands in family-owned vineyards. However, as the wine trade became more commercialized in the 17th and 18th centuries, women’s roles became more limited. They were often excluded from winemaking and wine trading, and their contributions were largely unrecognized.
It wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that women began to make a significant impact in the French wine industry once again. Women like Veuve Clicquot, who took over her husband’s champagne business after his death, and Lily Bollinger, who took over the Bollinger champagne house from her father, helped to pave the way for women in the wine industry. Today, women winemakers and vineyard owners are more common in France than ever before, and their wines are gaining recognition around the world.
Wine has a long and fascinating history, and the contributions of women to this history are often overlooked. From ancient times to the present day, women have played an important role in the production and consumption of wine, in France and Bulgaria as well as many other countries. As we continue to enjoy and appreciate wine, it is important to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women to this timeless tradition.
“Each stage of the work brings its own charm. From the moment you feel the heavy grape in your hands and you observe a small perfection of nature. Through the stage where you watch it transform into a young wine, then ready to age in oak barrels. Or when you blend and discuss your vision with Bessa Valley’s teammates to create a wine with a rich and exciting profile worthy of making its way into aging in a bottle. Until the moment when you see the dark ruby liquid sparkling in the wine glass and making people smile. That feeling of satisfaction caused by watching the happiness of those who taste our wine, it is worth the dedication at every single step of the process.” says Bozhina.
Now we get to celebrate Enira, the daughter of Thracian wine-traders by enjoying the wines from Bessa Valley, that embody the knowledge of Bulgarian mystical lands and the Bordeaux know-how.