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Raise Your Glass: A wine marketed to women tastes fine to men too



For the Valley News
Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Chloe Rose, 2018

Central Coast, California

$14.99/$10.99

Alcohol by volume 13%

Chloe Rosé is a crisp, well-balanced wine with flavors and aromas of fresh red berries and watermelon. It’s great for drinking while dining al fresco on a sunny afternoon or a cool summer evening.

With its female name, this label’s marketing exudes feminine sophistication, a drink for smart, chic, young (presumably single) women who cast off their work togs for sleek, black cocktail dresses and step into an elegant, Cinderella night of dancing and carousing with attractive friends. Chloe Rosé strives to evoke a dream world, one that’s available for $15 a bottle and often for $11 when it’s on sale.

The Chloe Wine Collection is the handiwork of award-winning winemaker Georgetta Dane, who started earning her reputation for innovation and creativity while working for Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon. Grahm was brilliant at making and marketing good wines for reasonable prices.

At Chloe, Dane has carried on the practice, developing a line of affordable wines with growing sales, excellent reviews and nationwide distribution. I have tried a few of the Chloe wines, and in addition to the rosé, I particularly like the Pinot Noir, which I wrote about in this column a couple of years ago.

Dane was born and grew up in Romania, then under Soviet dominion. She studied food science at one of the country’s top universities. When a rare opportunity to emigrate to the U.S. came up, she had a newborn and was working in a winery, along with her husband, and trying to rebuild the Romanian boutique wine industry after the fall of the Berlin wall.

In a number of interviews, Dane has called the decision to leave her native country difficult and frightening. During an evening at a pub, her husband and three of his beer-drinking buddies decided to enter a lottery for U.S. green cards. Her husband won, and they were faced with the gamble of a better opportunity in America or the security of home and family. She didn’t speak English, and they had their infant daughter and no jobs.

Despite the odds, they both landed positions at Kendall-Jackson in California.

“I was motivated out of fear that I would be on the street if I didn’t succeed,” she told the Capital Gazette, of Annapolis, Md., in an interview earlier this year.

In 2012, Dane was named the Best Woman Winemaker by the International Women’s Wine Competition.

Under Dane’s direction, Chloe, which is owned by The Wine Group, one of the largest wine companies in the country, has increasingly created opportunities for women in the wine industry. Only about 10% of 4,000 wineries in California have a woman as their lead winemaker, according to a recent study by researchers at Santa Clara University.

This year the Chloe Collection and the advocacy group Women in Film teamed up with actress and producer Kate Bosworth (The Horse Whisperer, Still Alice and Lois Lane in Superman Returns) to launch She Directed, a campaign to recognize and reward female filmmakers.

“Winemakers and filmmakers alike are passionate craftspeople working in industries that are challenged by gender disparity,” Dane said in an article this year in Food and Wine magazine, noting that women represented only 7% of directors of recent popular films.

“With the She Directed contest, we hope to bring more opportunities for female voices in film.”

In the mid-1990s, I became convinced that women winemakers were in many cases more skilled at their jobs than men. I was fortunate enough to have lunch then at Moet Chandon in Napa Valley with friends and winemaker Dawnine Dyer, who is credited with leading California in the production of fine sparkling wines.

As best as my wife, Sandy, and I can remember, Dyer had just returned from Paris where she had competed against both men and women in an international wine-tasting. She captured the contest when she above others detected a wine that had been exposed to sunlight for two hours.

Along the way since then, I have met a number of women in wine and have found them to have great skills.

I don’t have any empirical knowledge, but I believe that women generally have better taste buds, which helps make them better winemakers and chefs. I hope that doesn’t offend any of my male friends in the food and wine industries, but it’s what I believe and I’m sticking to it.

And I’m not offended by Chloe’s pitch to young women. I’m neither young nor female, nor do I dream of going out on the town dancing, but I find this wine to be consistently good and priced right. I’ll keep buying it, and I recommend that you do, too.

Suggestions of wines in the $10 range are always appreciated. Warren Johnston can be reached at raiseyourglassofwine@gmail.com. For past recommendations, go to raiseyourglassofwine.com.