As with so many industries, the upper echelons of the wine industry were traditionally reserved for men. The past two decades have brought with them significant change, and the world of wine is becoming more inclusive. Washington wine pioneers like Nina Buty, Mary Derby, Eve-Marie Gilla, and Kay Simon have personally witnessed the shift away from male-only wine events, vineyard management, and seminars. Join us in raising a glass to the women who prune, pick, crush, and bottle some of the best wines in the world right here in Washington State.
Ebullient Anne-Marie Hedges grew up in Troyes, a medieval town in the Champagne-Ardennes region of France. Yes. Champagne. “It is a tradition in our town that when a baby is born, you put a few drops of champagne on her lips, so it is the first thing she tastes.” Hedges’ parents were in retail manufacturing. Her connection to winemaking is through her grandfather, Marcel Dupont. He used to buy barrels of wine from a friend in Burgundy, which he then tapped with his own tools. “We have a wine dedicated to him—our Syrah. He lives through our wine, a true bon vivant.”
After dreaming of a life abroad, Hedges and her husband Tom lived and worked in Argentina, Phoenix, and New Brunswick, before settling in Seattle. At Hedges’ urging, they started making wine. “We had an opportunity to sell wine to the Swedish government. It was a huge quantity, and we decided to do all of it on our own,” Hedges said. “We sent samples to the customer and they chose one. Sweden ordered 4,000 cases. When the wine arrived, the client requested more. The Hedges bought property on Red Mountain.
When reflecting on her role as a woman in the wine industry, she said. “A woman in winemaking has to prove herself and earn the respect of her workers.” When Hedges’ daughter Sarah took the helm, the crew had to adjust. “She had to be tough from the beginning.”
In 2007, Hedges won Best Bordeaux in an international wine competition held in Hong Kong. “We made the best Bordeaux in the world. That was a good year.” Fitting that Hedges’ great accomplishment was a French wine—another homecoming of sorts. And to bring things full circle, Hedges Estate also has a true French champagne. “We found a small producer in Trépail, France who agreed to make our champagne. It’s called Marquis d’Ossey.”