Wine Women Wednesday with Yolanda Papapietro, Co-Founder of Women in Wine Day

Happy Wine Women Wednesday! We’re one day away from the inaugural National Women in Wine Day. Last week, I was excited to introduce you to the holiday’s co-founder, Renae Perry. Today, meet the other co-founder, Yolanda Papapietro of Sonoma County’s Papapietro Perry Winery .

Yolanda has such a zest for life, and represents how FUN wine is. Whether making or tasting it, read on to learn more about this force of nature in the wine industry. I love what her favorite song growing up was, too.

Wine Women Wednesday: Meet Yolanda Papapietro

Mary: Tell me a little about you and your background

Yolanda: Ben and I got together back in the early ’70s. Wine and food were always a big focus in our daily routine. I worked for more than 25 years in the insurance industry and eventually became a vice president and account executive at a well-known local brokerage. During that time, Ben started making wine in our basement in San Francisco and eventually he and Renae’s husband, Bruce joined him and they were both very passionate about making the best wine possible.

Our children’s friends and their parents were always in awe at what we were accomplishing in the basement. Julia and Simone, our daughters, were punching down the wine by hand just as our production team does now at the winery. Each harvest required a party or two or three, and we had many lovely meals and get togethers with friends and family throughout those 18 years in the basement.

Discovering “Serious Wine”

Was there a “moment” you knew that you were passionate for wine?

I believe what turned my head and mind to “serious wine” was when we would visit our friends, Burt and Jan Williams, who later became known with their partners as Williams Selyem Winery. They too had a basement operation in the ’70s and this is when Ben and I would taste through many French Burgundies and then taste through Burt’s homemade wines. WOW!  I was blown away by the elegance of California Pinot Noir Burt was making and realized that it could be as significant and as elegant as many of the French Burgundies.

As Ben started his winemaking in our basement with Bruce, and they obtained the Pinot grapes, it was truly a turning point in our passion for wine. It was an exciting time as we discovered how important “place” is and how it determines the flavor profiles of these magnificent Pinot Noir grapes. We started our commercial business in 1998 (which took some convincing by Bruce and Renae) and once we started, we never looked back.

Wine Women in a Man’s World

What inspired the launch of National Women in Wine Day?  

It is always a great step forward to introduce women into a man’s world. In the ’70s and ’80s I had met many male winemakers and wine advocates, however, in years past, women always seemed to be in the background. Things have changed dramatically in this industry in the last 20 years and so many women have ventured into the forefront of the industry to show that women are talented visionaries, winemakers, entrepreneurs and many have made significant achievements that earn them recognition for their leadership in, and passion for, the wine industry. I am delighted to bring these women the recognition they deserve and they are people from whom we can learn so much and  can be inspired by what they have done, are doing and by what they will do in the future. 

4) What’s your advice to women who want to pursue a career and life in wine?

Wine is fun! It is a joyful industry and a friendly industry! Not only can women learn so much and display their talents, but they can also meet other wonderful women and share so much with one another. I say, “Go for it!!”

The Perfect Day

5) Tell me your idea of a perfect day, and what wine you would be drinking?

My perfect day is sitting at the winery, overlooking Dry Creek Valley at sunset with a glass of Pommard Clones Pinot Noir and saying “life is good.” I feel blessed to be part of such a great industry and such wonderful people. 

Fun Fact: Along Comes Mary” by the Association, was one of my favorite songs in the the ’60s!

Special thanks to Yolanda and Renae for speaking with me. Make sure to celebrate National Women in Wine Day happening TOMORROW, March 25th! xo

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