Growing and making a great life
“The nurturing instinct of women brings a new perspective and quality to the wine industry. Our attention to detail, patience and emotional stamina coincide well with the painstaking winemaking process. Women are creators and their skills can bear rich fruit. It is a satisfying lifestyle from vintage to vintage.” Beverly Regan Bargetto
Winemaking in California, as in Europe, is dominated by male names on the bottles. But dedicated women influenced the early development of the wine industry in Santa Cruz County. Beverly Bargetto inspired other local winemaking women, including our guests on this episode: Prudy Foxx of Foxx Viticulture, June Smith of the Roudon-Smith Winery, and Valerie Ahlgren of Ahlgren Vineyard.
Val and June, now 90 and 91, founded their wineries in the early 1970s. Prudy made her way to wine through sustainable agriculture in the 1980s. All three forged their livelihoods, their wines, and their identities from the rough terrain in the first American Viticultural Area (AVA) to be defined by its mountain topography rather than geography.
Most histories of the region would feature their husbands as the winemakers and thus the center of attention, but like all histories that leave out the women, that history would be incomplete. June and Val, for example, were instrumental in lobbying for the creation of the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA. In this conversation, we learn that Ahlgren Vineyard sprang from the fruit of Val’s insatiable curiosity, that Roudon-Smith may never have been known without June’s avid pen, and that Prudy’s “follow the wine” approach transformed the relationship between the vineyard and the cellar.
“Wine is a full commitment, a lifestyle, it’s not like going to a job that you come home from. Everything that happens is going to make you think about your wine. It’s a lifestyle, a life’s commitment, a journey, and also a great teacher. The process of growing and making a great wine is like growing and making a great life.” Prudy Foxx
For more information:
- Foxx Viticulture
- Roudon-Smith Winery
- Ahlgren Vineyard
- “Santa Cruz Mountains wine pioneers mark 35th anniversary” by June Smith in the Santa Cruz Sentinel
- “The Ahlgren Vineyard was one of the Santa Cruz Mountains’ great unheralded wine estates. What happened to it?” from the San Francisco Chronicle
- More articles by June Smith