10 Women in Wine and Spirits Who Are Breaking the Mold

From Napa Valley to Scotland and beyond, women are propelling the beverage industry forward

Top row, from left to right: Kirsty Black, Arbikie; Jennifer Meacham and Caitlyn LuBell, BoozeBiz; Absinthia Vermut, Absinthia. Bottom row, from left to right: Karla Flores, Natasha Feiger, Anna Dement, and Gabrielle Lewis, Madam Paleta; Nicole Marchesi and Brooke Bobyak-Price, Far Niente.
Top row, from left to right: Kirsty Black, Arbikie; Jennifer Meacham and Caitlyn LuBell, BoozeBiz; Absinthia Vermut, Absinthia. Bottom row, from left to right: Karla Flores, Natasha Feiger, Anna Dement, and Gabrielle Lewis, Madam Paleta; Brooke Bobyak-Price and Nicole Marchesi, Far Niente.

The wine, spirits, and beer industries have historically been dominated by men—but that’s changing. Women are instrumental in propelling the beverage industry forward from entry-level roles to the C-suite, a fact that is increasingly recognized and celebrated.

Still, there’s more to be done. Women—and members of other minority groups—need more access to decision-making roles across all three tiers of the industry, and giving them that access will contribute to a more diverse and innovative beverage alcohol industry going forward.

There are countless women in wine, beer, and spirits worth spotlighting, but here are five women-led businesses that are breaking the mold in beverage today.

A lineup of Arbikie's spirits collection
Kirsty Black, the master distiller for Arbikie, has led breakthroughs in sustainable practices. Photo courtesy of Arbikie.

Arbikie Highland Estate 

Arbikie is Scotland’s first single-site, field-to-bottle distillery to produce both brown and white spirits using traditional Scotch copper-pot distillation methods. While it was founded by brothers John, Iain, and David Stirling, they have always operated under an equal opportunities ethos based on ability—which brought them to master distiller Kirsty Black. She has been at the helm since Arbikie first launched in 2014 and oversaw the conversion of a disused cattle shed into the now multi award-winning distillery. Perched on the east coast of Angus, the 2000-acre Arbikie Farm Distillery puts sustainability front and center. 

Black uses her academic background to find new ways of making the family of spirits more climate friendly without sacrificing their allegiance to traditional Scotch production methods. During her PhD, she demonstrated the potential of using legumes in intercropping systems and the conversion of those crops into beverage grade alcohol. The result of her research was the creation of Nádar, the world’s first climate positive vodka and gin made from green peas. Prior to Nádar, in 2015 she also created Kirsty’s Gin, with the base spirit distilled from potatoes grown on the estate. As Black says: “Our aim is simple: To become the most sustainable distillery in the world.”

A lineup of Absinthia's spirits collection
Absinthia Vermut, the founder of Absinthia Bottled Spirits, has been dedicated to crafting quality absinthe since before its legalization in the U.S. Photo courtesy of Absinthia.

Absinthia Bottled Spirits

The first of Absinthia’s award-winning absinthes launched in 2017—but for founder Absinthia Vermut, the journey began two decades prior, before absinthe was even legal in the U.S. Vermut fell in love with absinthe via art history, inspired by “the green fairy” that inspired the likes of Van Gogh, and began bootlegging it in small batches (the spirit was legalized in 2007). Today, she works to push the boundaries of innovation with exceptional ingredients and careful craft. “Fewer than eight percent of distilleries in the United States are owned and operated by women,” says Vermut. “In a world where glass ceilings shatter and dreams take flight, may we continue to raise our glasses and our voices.”

Absinthia crafts four distinctive absinthe bottlings: Blanche, a clean, clear, Swiss-style spirit; Verte, with the green fairy’s signature color; Barrel Aged, which matures for four months in rye barrels; and Bleue, which has floral notes and gets its hue from butterfly pea flower. To complement these spirits, Vermut has since launched Absinthia Craft Mixers in collaboration with mixologist Jared Hirsch. Fairy Dust captures the unique flavors of absinthe without alcohol; Caged Heat combines freshness with spice, including ghost pepper, tamarind, and cardamom; and Cherry Bomb brings rich flavors like black cherry, coffee, and cacao.

A closeup of three Far Niente wine bottles
Two of Far Niente’s winemakers, Nicole Marchesi and Brooke Bobyak-Price, have made great strides for the winery’s success. Photo courtesy of Far Niente.

Far Niente

Far Niente Wine Estates has a rich tradition of placing women at the helm, from its proprietress Beth Nickel to its winemakers. Nicole Marchesi has been with the winery for nearly two decades. As the fourth winemaker in Far Niente’s 40-year history, she has upheld the winery’s legacy as one of the region’s most classic producers of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, while also innovating in the face of new challenges and climate realities. 

Meanwhile, Brooke Bobyak-Price has been the winemaker at Bella Union since 2020—having worked previously with sister brands Nickel & Nickel, EnRoute, and Post & Beam. This year, she will help shape the new Bella Union Winery, opening this summer, the third Far Niente Wine Estates’ property located on Highway 29 in the prestigious Rutherford AVA. 

Both winemakers care deeply about the craft of their work, and are equally passionate about championing their team and collaborating across the winery. For Bobyak-Price it’s all part of what she loves about the job: “I get the opportunity to make some of the very best wines in the Napa Valley.”

Three of Madam Paleta's owners and leaders pose with a bottle of their tequila
Madam Paleta produces award-winning tequila and supports other women in the beverage industry. Photo courtesy of Madam Paleta.

Madam Paleta

Launched in September 2023, Madam Paleta is a new flavor-infused tequila made using 100 percent premium blue agave. The natural flavors are infused and bound with the tequila via maceration, creating a smooth finish—and it has already garnered gold medals from competitions, such as the the Barleycorn Awards which dubbed the Madam Paleta Tamarind the Best Flavored Tequila. Founded by four women with varied and extensive experience in the alcohol industry, between them they cover every aspect of the business from operations to sales. They include: Karla Flores, Natasha Feiger, Anna Dement, and Gabrielle Lewis.

Being a women-led brand has impacted Madam Paleta’s entire ethos—from its name to its mission statement to redefine the approachability of quality tequila. They collaborate with women across the board, including showcasing different artists with each label design. As Flores, the general manager, says: “In the alcohol industry, which is predominantly dominated by men, we aim to empower and inspire other women, amplifying their presence and voice.”

A headshot of both Caitlyn LuBell and Jennifer Meacham
Caitlyn LuBell and Jennifer Meacham’s work with BoozeBiz has focused on more equitable hiring in the beverage industry. Photo courtesy of BoozeBiz.


Those who work in the beverage industry understand that this complex, enthralling business is a unique animal—and so are the people who run it. Hiring in the industry—not to mention building a career in it—is unlike any other, and that’s where BoozeBiz comes in. Founded by two beverage industry and recruiting veterans, Caitlyn LuBell and Jennifer Meacham, BoozeBiz  maximizes that experience to create a recruiting agency tailored to both employers and candidates in the industry.

LuBell and Meacham are also particularly focused on helping women advance in an industry that they have only recently gained a serious foothold in. “The beverage alcohol industry has been historically male-dominated, and we were excited to start a women-owned business with a focus on elevating and advocating great candidates of all types,” says Meacham. BoozeBiz’s mission is personal: “With our years of hands-on experience in the industry, we know what it is like to fight for your seat at the table,” says LuBell. “This brings a unique perspective and level of empathy to recruiting that sets us apart. We are also always happy when we can assist with pay equality.

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