fall 2004
table of contents
Letter from the Editor
Articles Online

Scandal Patrol
Daughters Helping Working Mothers
Republican Women for Choice
Pregnant Women Murdered
San Francisco Women's Building
Sisters Who Sip


Haitians Fight Despair
Matenwa's Artists
Women with AIDS
Spanish Women in Charge
Gandhi Power
Afghan Women's Vote
Networking Corner

Cover Story
It's the Women, Stupid | Ellen Hawkes
Why the Gender Gap Matters | Eleanor Smeal
Fighting Words for a Secular America | Robin Morgan

More Features

The Unreal World | Jennifer Pozner
Virgin Territory | Camille Hahn
A Family Affair | Gillian Kane
Liv Ullmann: A Ms. Conversation | Robert Emmet Long
Liberating Mary | Bob Lamm


Where's That Smoking Gun? Sex discrimination is getting harder to prove | Pamela Haag

The Breast Cancer Divide: Why the disease kills so many African Americans | Michelle L. Smith, M.D.

A Feast of Feminist Art
"The Dinner Party" finds a home in Brooklyn | Carey Lovelace

Jamesey, Jamesey | Ursula Hegi
Intersection | Roxana Robinson

God Says Yes To Me | Kaylin Haught
| Donna Masini

Touching History
Encounters with women of renown: Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Hillary Clinton and Mamie "Peanut" Johnson

Book Reviews
Bob Bledsoe on The Finishing School by Murial Sparks; Valerie Miner on The Falls by Joyce Carol Oates; Samantha Dunn on The Doctor's Wife by Elizabeth Brundage; Carey Lovelace on Full Bloom: The
Art and Life of Georgia O'Keefe
by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp
; Patricia Cohen on Nightingales: The Extraordinary Upbringing and Curious Life of Miss Florence Nightingale by Gillian Gill

Plus: Fall Must-Read List

Save the Courts | Donna Brazile

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NATIONAL NEWS | fall 2004

Photo / Tanit Sakakini

Who Sip

“Divas” prove there’s more to wine than white and red.

Don’t call Stephanie Browne , founder of the Boston-based wine club Divas Uncorked, a wine expert. She prefers “savvy” or “enthusiast.” That’s an important distinction, since Browne and her Divas aim to knock down snobbery as they demystify wine.

“[Wine] is a pretty male-dominated world,” says Browne. “If you go back in time, women weren’t even allowed to drink in public.”

Not only do the Divas publicly sip, but they’ve inspired similar women’s clubs across the country. They’re also dedicated to ensuring that the American wine industry considers the tastes (and wallets) of women and people of color.

And the industry ought to listen, says Leslie Sbrocco, author of Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing, and Sharing Wine (Morrow Cookbooks, 2003).

“I would estimate [that] between 65 to 70 percent of wine purchased is by women,” she says, then adds with a laugh, “It’s just fermented grape juice! [Winemakers] need to get out of marketing wine as an ancient precious beverage.”

Five years ago, when Browne formed Divas Uncorked with 11 girlfriends — all African American professionals — their collective knowledge was limited to “red, white and white zin.”

They’ve since improved their wine IQ “a hundredfold,” and found that wine savoir faire is useful and impressive at business events.

“It’s an icebreaker,” says Browne. “You go from an unrelaxed encounter to a relaxed experience.”

This past summer, the Divas visited Northern California’s wine country, where they met with industry professionals to personally introduce them to the new face(s) of wine connoisseurs.

“The reception was wonderful,” says Browne. “They want to be like Spain and France, where wine is the beverage of choice, so they are looking to increase their market share.”

Currently, the Divas are planning their second annual wine conference, “Wine, Women and…,” which will be held at Boston’s Seaport Hotel in early 2005. The first conference featured workshops, tastings and speakers such as Andrea Immer, one of just 11 female master sommeliers in the world.

They’ve also begun a program to annually mentor a young person of color, providing a year’s tuition at a culinary program and access to their network of professional contacts.

“We found a lack of people of color both in the culinary field and in the wine area,” says Browne, “so what better way to give back to the community?”

Nationally, Sbrocco estimates, only about 11 percent of U.S. winemakers are female, but women are coming on strong.

“Some of the most high-profile wine-making consultants are women,” she says, “and more and more women are getting involved at the upper levels of marketing. It’s a great time for women to be in the wine business.”

That definitely calls for a celebration, right off the vine. Browne recommends a little bubbly: “J Vineyards Sparkling Brut goes well with dessert.”


Sarah Gonzales is Ms. book review editor.

For more information, check out Divas Uncorked.

Here's a list of woman-made wines to savor:

- Syrah and Tempranillo from Iris Rideau’s Rideau Vineyard, Santa Barbara , Calif. www.rideauvineyard.com

- Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Helen Turley’s boutique Marcassin Winery, Calistoga, Calif.

- Cabernet Sauvignon from Cathy Corison’s Corison Winery, St. Helena, Calif. www.corison.com

- Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc from Mia Klein’s Selene Wines, Napa , Calif. www.selenewines.com

- Pinot Noir from Merry Edwards’ Merry Edwards Wines, Windsor , Calif. www.merryedwards.com

- Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Moscato from Heidi Peterson Barrett’s La Sirena,
Calistoga , Calif.

- Cuvée D’Estevenas from Domaine Rabasse Charavin, run by Corinne Couturier in France ’s southern Rhône Valley.

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