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Winemakers Women in Wine, PT 1

Cellar Talk with Irene Paiva

In honor of women in wine, get to know a pioneering winemaker of Chile. Interview by Nick Baines.

Honoring Women in Wine:
Paiva on maintaining energy and the opportunity winemakers rarely get

Interviewed by Nick Baines 

Women in Wine: Irene Paiva

“The learning process never ends…”


1. How did you get your start in wine?

I grew up spending many weekends on my grandfather’s farm in Cauquenes where I fell in love with farms and nature. This led me to study agronomy at university, where I eventually discovered enology.

At the time, in 1989, it wasn’t such a great business to get into in Chile. There were only eight of us studying enology – and only two of us were women. After this, I went on to get my first job in lab analysis, quality control, and managing the day-to-day of a winery.

2. Where are you in your career now?

Working hard and enjoying it, but with less pressure than in the early years – I can’t believe I’ve been at this for 14 years now. In 2007 I bottled six barrels (1,800 bottles), today we have eight wines and an annual production of 250,000 bottles. I’m full of ideas and excited to keep moving forward.

3. How do Naked Angels empower you as a winemaker?

To be in direct contact with the consumer is an incredible opportunity that winemakers don’t usually get. I learn all the time when reading and answering Angels’ comments, their feedback enables me to improve and make better wines.

4. What’s a BIG lesson you’ve learned along the way?

The learning process never finishes. Improving and progressing step-by-step over the years is an amazing feeling. Keep dreaming about things you want to do, this maintains your energy and helps you get everything you imagine.

5. What’s the message you have for other women winemakers?

Making great wines and having a family at the same time is totally possible! Just go for it, work hard, and use all your enthusiasm.

6. What is your big hope for women in wine in the future?

I would like to see more women in charge of winemaking, not in second place. Sometimes it’s because companies don’t give the opportunities to women, and other times it’s because women are afraid or don’t want to take on all the responsibilities.

Women in Wine: Irene Paiva

Lastly – is there a women’s empowerment organization or cause you support? 

We’ve had a Women-Owned certification for about five years now. I think initiatives like this make a big difference. 

Follow Irene Paiva on Naked Wines

Nick Baines is a food and travel writer based in London.

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