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Rockin’ the Bodega: Uruguay’s Women Winemakers

Supermodels flock to Uruguay’s Punte del Este, but a new breed of super-woman is raising the bucolic South American nation’s profile, one vineyard at a time. Women are making waves—and wine—in Uruguay’s male-dominant winemaking world. Meet four Uruguayas who are rocking the vineyards with a modern approach to winemaking.

Karina Chiappella, enologist, Bodega J. Chiappella

When Karina Chiappella started enology school in her native Uruguay back in 2000, she had the dubious honor of being the only female student in her class. Chiappella, who is a third generation winemaker, started working for Bodega J. Chiappella, the family winery, at a young age.

“My father would take me and my sister to winemaking association meetings and the other men would ask him why he was bringing women to the meetings,” Chiappella recalls. “He would tell them, ‘It’s not my fault I had daughters. If they want to work in the wine industry, it’s their decision.’”

Chiappella and her younger sister wear many hats as winemakers for their family’s business, which is located in Uruguay’s Canelones region. They collaborate on creating blends, analyzing the wine through the fermentation and aging process, working the harvests and planning for future vintages.

Bodega J. Chiappella’s signature wine is the Tannat-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, which is aged in American oak and displays intense violet hues. Blackberry and vanilla flavors along with caramel and rose petal aromas make this wine a good match with grilled or stewed lamb.

Next, two more Uruguayans blazing a trail for female winemakers...

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