Honoring Women in Wine:
Diogo-Draper on working hard, persisting, insisting, and repeating
Interviewed by Elizabeth Smith
1. How did you get your start in wine?
In college, I had a winemaker “AHA moment.” I took a class under a talented and inspiring winemaker. I was smitten by the detail and creativity. I became a research assistant in the university’s experimental cellar and worked harvest in the cellar in Alentejo.
My 2004 harvest internship in Napa Valley was the pivotal moment. Working alongside inspiring women, I realized my winemaking dream was possible and I never looked back!
2. Where are you in your career now?
I am in a happy, busy place. I make wines from California and Portugal for Naked Wines. In 2019 I made my first Rosé. I’ll be adding a red wine in 2020.
I am also the winemaker for a Napa Valley winery. I juggle these projects with my family life. I am married with two young boys.
3. How do Naked Angels empower you as a winemaker?
I joined Naked Wines in 2012 with the dream of producing Portuguese varieties in California, as well as new varieties, vineyards, and terroirs in my home county of Sonoma and other regions.
Angels made this a reality on my own terms as an independent winemaker. It still feels unreal that I am producing wines from my two favorite places in the world, Portugal and California.
4. What’s a BIG lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Never give up! Work hard, persist, insist, and repeat! Don’t be deterred by obstacles along the way, but rather, draw strength and learn from them. Follow your instincts.
5. What’s the message you have for other women winemakers?
Let’s stick together! As a woman, you must work twice as hard to prove yourself worthy of the position you hold.
The dream of juggling a career as a winemaker with a family is incredibly hard. Find a great partner, someone that supports your dreams and cheers you on.
6. What is your big hope for women in wine in the future?
My biggest hope is that more women get to play pivotal roles, specifically in leadership, and achieve that dream without having to subdue femininity and assertiveness.
I’d also like to see the term “woman winemaker” disappear and women be accepted simply as winemakers.
Lastly – is there a women’s empowerment organization or cause you support or would like to?
I would love to support ICWC (Immigration Center for Women and Children). As an immigrant woman, I was lucky to have the support, knowledge, and funds to pursue a visa and path to citizenship, but there are many that do not.
Follow Ana Diogo-Draper on Naked Wines
Elizabeth Smith is a freelance wine, food, and travel journalist as well as a communications and social media specialist based in the Napa Valley.