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Napa Valley Is Led By Women Winemakers — Here’s How To Support Them

by BUST Magazine

Every bottle of wine has a story. And for over a hundred years, the storytellers have been women, especially in California’s Napa Valley. Since Josephine Tychson became the first woman to build and operate a winery in California in 1886, women have been leaders in the industry and, today, make up 60% of the region’s winemakers and winery owners. To celebrate—and to help the Napa Valley wine region rebuild after a one-two punch from COVID-19 followed by a series of wildfires—these fierce forces are teaming up for a very special event: Open the Cellar.

For three days only—and just in time for the holiday season—Napa Valley’s most renowned winemakers are digging into their stashes and offering limited-time deals on personally selected wines. All offerings will be available for purchase from October 23 to October 25 on Napa Valley Vintners’ website. 

Many of us are stocking up on wine as we solidify our Thanksgiving plans, emotionally prepare for Election Day, and get ready to hibernate this winter. But instead of heading to your local liquor store and just winging it, why not order a special bottle from one of Napa Valley’s premier women winemakers? Here are just a few of the founders, owners, and makers who will be participating in Open the Cellar—and how they came to choose their favorite creations.

Gianna Kelly, Winemaker, Galerie

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Kelly chose a 2018 Naissance Sauvignon Blanc because of its personal resonance. “This wine is the first one I ever bottled with Galerie,” she says. “It is a toast to new beginnings, new adventures and the start of something exciting.” The bottle is just $30—a great bet if you’re looking to (hopefully) toast to a new beginning on Election Night!

Julie Johnson, Owner and Winemaker, Tres Sabores 

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Johnson’s small, family-owned ranch is a Napa Valley staple, but unfortunately, she had to temporarily close its doors due to the wildfires. For Open the Cellar, she selected a very special Zinfandel—made from a spicy, peppery red grape— from fruit originally planted in 1971. “I’ve been living here on the vineyard ‘with’ my Zinfandel since 1987,” she says. “It’s aged very well thanks to the fact that we took [the farm] organic when we moved here, and have been steadily building the health of the soil and the resilience of the vines since then.” Johnson’s 2018 Rutherford Zinfandel will be available for $50. 

Molly Hill, Winemaker, Sequoia Grove Winery

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Sequoia Grove Winery’s tasting room and house were first built in 1908, and the winery specializes in Cabernet Sauvignons—strong, tannic red wines known for aging well. Hill, who joined Sequoia Grove in 2003, is excited to share her personal favorite, the 2016 Tonella Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. “I chose this one because this ‘heart-of-the-Napa Valley’ growing location makes luscious, lip-smacking wines with flavors of cocoa powder and black cherries,” she explains. Her 2016 Rutherford Cabernet is available for $100, and well worth the splurge if you’re thinking ahead to Christmas or New Year’s Eve in quarantine.

Chris Kajani, Winemaker and General Manager, Bouchaine Vineyards

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Kajani chose Bouchaine Vineyards’ wine, a Pinot Meunier, because it’s so rare: a cousin of Pinot Noir, which she tells us is the backbone of many champagnes but rarely seen as a still, non-sparkling red wine. “We love its dichotomy,” she says. “The wine is a shape-shifter: one day a savory brooding succulent wine, another day reminiscent of fresh blueberry pie and baking spices.” Kajani’s 2017 Los Carneros Pinot Meunier will be available for $68—this one’s price and unique flavor palate make it a great pick for a nice date night or celebratory dinner.

Samantha Mueller, Director of Operations, McKenzie-Mueller Vineyards and Winery

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This family-owned vineyard and winery was first founded by a husband-and-wife duo over 25 years ago, and today produces around 2,000 cases annually. Mueller, the pair’s daughter and Director of Operations, says that the winery’s Merlot—a type of wine famous in Napa Valley, made from traditional Bordeaux grapes— has sentimental value. “It is important to study the past to try and understand the present and the future,” she explains. “With that in mind, I have gone deep into our wine library to select our magnum 2001 Merlot. I find it to be a stellar representation of the ageability, depth, and quality of Los Carneros and the Napa Valley.” Mueller’s bottle, which costs $280 is on the more expensive side, but Napa Valley’s vintners say it’s worth every penny. 

Kristy Melton, Winemaker, Freemark Abbey Winery

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Melton selected her special bottling in honor of wine pioneer Josephine Tychson. In 2020, Melton became the first female winemaker of the historic Napa Valley property since Tychson, Freemark Abbey’s original winemaker, founded the estate in 1886— so it’s only fitting that Melton would select this exclusive, small production wine that commemorates Tychson and her incredible legacy. For $150, the 2016 Freemark Abbey Josephine’s Red Wine Blend would make the perfect, thoughtful gift for your favorite wine aficionado.

Meet more women in wine through the #ThisIsOurNapa hashtag across social media, and don’t forget to buy your loved ones—and yourself—some unique bottles in support of this special initiative at

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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