This month, we at Gary’s Wine & Marketplace are paying tribute to women in wine. The long and winding road towards women’s equality in this worldwide industry is being paved by many talented and hardworking women from winemakers to CEOs to retailers and every role in between.


California is by far the biggest wine-producing state, making up 81 percent of the country’s wine by volume. As the fourth-largest producer globally, California plays a critical role in empowering women in the wine industry. Here, statistics show that progress, though slow, is being made. 

In a 2020 study by Women Winemakers of California, approximately 14 percent of the 4,200 bonded wineries in the state reported a woman as their lead winemaker. This represents an increase from the 10 percent reported in their 2011 study.

Winemaker Paula Kornell grew up in the town of St. Helena in Napa Valley and watched her father, Hans Kornell, make sparkling wine using the traditional méthode Champenoise method. In the 1980s, Paula moved on to a successful career in sales and marketing for wineries in Napa and Sonoma and then started her own wine consulting business. Paula started her namesake brand with the 2017 vintage, carrying on her family legacy. Here sparkling wine, Paula Kornell Sparkling Brut NV , was Gary’s #3 Wine of 2021.

Paula has been on the front lines with both experiencing and witnessing the rise of women’s representation in California’s wine industry.



“We have come a long way,” Paula says, “I remember in the ’80s doing a presentation for JALCO, Northern California distributor, and looking out over a sea of cigar and cigarette smoke, there may have been one or two women amongst the eighty-to-one hundred liquor salesmen! There still is room for much improvement, but there is a whole new generation bringing needed vitality and collaboration to the industry.”


Here at Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, women are instrumental in the company’s success, from long-time employees to those just starting off their professional careers. For example, Kayley Nugent, 27, started at Gary’s in May of 2020. She began working at Gary’s in the Customer Success department. Kayley now runs the Gifting and Events program at Gary’s, specializing in Virtual Wine Tastings and Corporate Gifting. For Kayley, working at Gary’s has been empowering since starting her career in wine.


“It’s no secret that women can be in the minority in the wine world, a place that has been dominated by men for a long time,” says Nugent. “However, Gary’s is one of the exceptions as the women on our team are leaders and amazing coworkers who help and encourage each other to grow and learn. Experiencing the wine world can be intimidating, but working for Gary’s gives me a great foundation and network to dive in with.”


Here are Gary’s we are celebrating women in wine, from our talented and hardworking women female employees to those who craft the wines we proudly carry. This month, we cheers to them!