9 Groundbreaking Women in the Drinks Industry

From beer pioneers to master sommeliers and cocktail icons, this illustrious crew includes the grande dames of drink.
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Wine

illustration of row of wine and spirits

Ntsiki Biyela

In just over a decade, Biyela went from having never tasted wine to being named South Africa’s Woman Winemaker of the Year in 2009. The country’s first black female winemaker, Biyela now owns her own label, Aslina Wines.

Helen Turley

Turley is like the Alice Waters of California wine. She’s an innovator in the naturalwine field and a superconsultant to some of America’s finest wineries. Her efforts in the scene earned her Wine Spectator’s 2010 Distinguished Service Award.

Pauline Lhote

At just 33 years old, Lhote became director of winemaking at Chandon, one of America’s largest sparkling-wine companies. A native of Champagne, France, Lhote stands out for attracting millennials to the sparkling-wine scene.

Spirits

Illustration row of coctails

Audrey Saunders

One of America’s best bartenders even before she opened the groundbreaking New York City bar Pegu Club, Saunders is known for reviving and retooling classic cocktails. Her Old Cuban (a mojito meets a French 75) is considered a modern-day classic.

Yola Jimenez

Not only is Jimenez’s company Yola Mezcal run by female executives, but the bottling facility is also fully staffed by women in an effort to empower local women in Oaxaca, Mexico. Find the brand’s bottles in stores in Los Angeles and New York City, as well as online.

Shelby Allison

As if she weren’t already busy with her Chicago tiki bar, Lost Lake (on the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2018), Allison also cofounded Chicago Style, a cocktail conference that weaves #MeToo conversations into drink panels and seminars.

Beer

Illustration by Louisa Bertman

Carol Stoudt

When she opened Stoudt Brewery in Pennsylvania in 1987, Stoudt became the first female brew master in America since Prohibition. In 2018 she was awarded the President’s Award at the Brewers of PA Association’s Meeting of the Malts summit.

Nicole Erny

Erny made history twice when she became a master cicerone—the beer world’s answer to a master sommelier— in 2011. She not only was the first woman but also was, at 28 years old, the youngest person ever to achieve the certification.

Grace Weitz

Did you know that women were history’s O.G. brewers? Weitz wanted to shed light on that fact last year, when she helped launch New York City’s Beer With(out) Beards festival, the world’s largest celebration of women in the beer industry.