Behind the Wine

Celebrate International Women’s Day with Your Talented Winemakers


It’s International Women’s Day today, so we’ve got a great opportunity to highlight some of the amazing women who make wine for our Angels. The wine world is not an easy place for talented women to make their mark and I’m personally very proud that the Angels offer so many opportunities for people to use their skills and bring great wines to life.

Carmen’s amazing charity efforts in South Africa

International woman winemaker Carmen Stevens with four school children who benefit from her school lunch charity
Carmen Stevens and four of the children benefiting from her school lunch charity

Thank you for supporting me in my wine making and for loving the wines that I make. There is no bigger accolade for any winemaker. Your lovely posts are just such a huge inspiration to me (even if it simply says “I like this”) and they make me proud to be part of the Naked family.

I would also like to share with you that in January the Naked Angels had a second donation day for the school children of the Western Cape in South Africa. The Angels managed to raise a whopping 70,000 pound, equivalent to $ 85673,00 or in our currency R 1114502,94 . This enables us to continue providing a breakfast and lunch, at 6 under privileged schools here in the Cape. Because of the continued support from that provides a platform to raise these funds and the humbling selfless efforts from the Angels, this feeding program is a reality for yet another year.

If you should ask me what my biggest success story or achievement for the past two years is, my answer without a doubt, will be that I am so proud to be part of this family, a family that cares not only for me as a winemaker but, also for supporting me in making an immeasurable difference to the lives of children they don’t even know personally.

Thank You Angels for making me part of this amazing family.
Carmen Stevens, Angel-funded winemaker and former Winemaker of the Year

Ana released her new range

Ana’s new Angel-funded range of wines

“I moved to California, from Portugal, almost 12 years ago. The first reason was that I fell in love with the unique beauty of this corner… I wanted to call it home. The second was that I truly wanted to become a female winemaker I my own right. That was not an easy task in Europe back then, in a industry very male driven. And, when I did my first harvest in California, I met some amazing women winemakers, who became friends and mentors, and inspired me to be a believer. To believe in me, and to fight to make my dreams a reality…Your support, for the past five years, has been nothing short of amazing. Making wine for you is an adventure, and I thank you for this incredible journey that we are taking together.”
Ana Diogo-Draper, Angel-funded winemaker

Karen’s heart-warming tribute to her mentor Toni

“Today is International Women’s day and I wanted to take this opportunity to write about my dear friend and mentor, Toni Sickles. I’ve always felt very lucky that my path crossed with Toni’s as I was starting my winemaking career. She was the Senior Winemaker at Robert Mondavi Woodbridge when I was starting out as an Assistant Enologist almost two decades ago. Toni had a huge personality, always spoke her mind, and was passionate about everything she did, particularly making wine. She taught me how to blend wine, the creative part of winemaking that you can only learn through experience. She showed me how find those different varieties that make a blend more complex, that blending 1% of a unique wine into your blend can make a big difference, and to always explore all you options when working on a wine to make it the very best it can be.

Toni passed away almost 10 years ago after a long battle with breast cancer. I frequently think of Toni as I’m making my wines….from harvest through bottling, and I still draw on her advice and teaching when I’m faced with a challenge. I encourage all young people, both women and men to find a mentor as they start their careers in winemaking or any other industry. A mentor will guide you in the right path and will give you the confidence to be successful in your career. Tonight I will have a glass of Zinfandel and toast Toni. Cheers! Karen
Karen Birmingham, Angel-funded winemaker

Irene Qu Chardonnay is live on the site

“I’m so happy to give you this news! From this week, Qu Chardonnay 2016 is going live!!
Many thanks to the Angels for helping make this possible.

I would like to share some interesting facts about this wine:

*The 2016 season had temperatures lower than a normal year and very early rains, so we needed to overtake the harvest approximately 2 weeks, obtaining a very fruity and fresh wine with good acidity and moderate alcohol level.
*The harvest was made in March 20th, handpicking very early in the morning; this help to keep a low temperature of grapes, and mantain its natural flavors for the fermentation.
*Vinification is carried out in stainless steel tanks. All process is developed at low temperatures (12 to 16°C). Once fermentation is started, 50% of the juice is moved to oak barrels to complete the process and kept with their lees for 8 months until the final blend. This brings to the wine a greater smoothness in mouth and differents flavors, like vanilla and caramel.

I really hope you enjoy this new vintage and let me know your comments about the wine!”
Irene Paiva, Angel-funded winemaker

A special message from Jen Pfeiffer’s amazing mom

Bulgarian culture brought to you by Rumi Stoilova

Rumi Stoilova, the winner of the Winemaker Fantasy competition last year, is sharing fascinating snapshots from her life in Bulgaria. It’s a beautiful place with a unique cultural heritage, and you can learn all about it by following her winemaker page.

Bulgarian national dance on St. Trifon Zarezan Day
Bulgarian national dance on St. Trifon Zarezan Day

Bulgarian national dancing in front of the winery on February 14th (St. Trifon Zarezan Day).
In the background, you can see our vineyards. They surround the winery. The first 5 rows are dessert grapes (we have 30 varieties for the tourists to pick and enjoy). Then we have a parcel of Shiroka Melnishka Loza (Broad-leaved Melnik vine), and at the bottom of this picture, you can see rows of Cabernet Sauvignon.

We have two mountain ranges in the background – Slavyanka on the left and Belasitsa on the right. Slavyanka is between Bulgaria and Greece, and Belasitsa is between Bulgaria, Greece, and Macedonia!
Rumi Stoilova, Angel-funded winemaker

A family portrait with Jacqueline Bahue-Person

jacqueline person bahue family portrait in portugal
Jacqueline’s family on a trip to Portugal

“But, before you crack into a bottle, I wanted to tell you why I love to make the wines that I do. These wines are able to be enjoyed as an aperitif (although they go stellar with food). Ever since I was young, my family would have guests over to celebrate various occasions, including simple dinners on the weekends. They would always share a bottle of wine with friends, and if I was lucky, a thimble size sip with me. Now that I am older with a family of my own, I better understand the importance of making time to spend with family and friends. So, I like to have a bottle of white wine open at the beginning of our dinner parties, to share as guests arrive to our home. It’s a special way to bring people together.

I feel so blessed to be able to share the wines that I’ve crafted with my friends, family and you, my extended family. So, the next time you open a bottle, please remember to toast those who are important to you. And I’ll be sure to do the same. Here’s a picture of our dinner feast last night, which was our first night in Portugal. And of course, there was Albariño in our glasses!”
Jacqueline Bahue, Angel-funded winemaker




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