Women in Wine - International Women's Day 2021 - Boutinot



On March 8th, International Women’s Day 2021 takes place to celebrate and increase visibility of women’s achievements across the globe.

Here at Boutinot, we are proud to celebrate a multitude of achievements from many magnificent women across our global teams and delight in taking this opportunity to shine a spotlight on 3 women whose hard work, integrity and passion for their craft can be detected in every glass of wine they make:


Lella Burdese, Head of Quality Control, Adria Vini

Lella studied winemaking at the School of Oenology in Alba, graduating in 1983. She joined Araldica in 1984, at a time when the winery was investing in cutting-edge quality control measures. Consequently, as well as being a winemaker, she has been involved in quality control from the start.

Although the Adria wines are all produced in their respective regions of origin, when we started the venture in 2003, we knew that consistent quality would be key to its success. Therefore, it made perfect sense to have Lella, with her wealth of experience, in charge of the process.


Today Lella is Araldica’s laboratory manager and head of quality control for Adria Vini, responsible for the blending and approval of all wines.



Samantha Bailey, Master Blender, Boutinot Winemaking Team

Samantha discovered a love for wine after spending time in France as part of her BA University curriculum which included a work placement in Beaune. From then on, wine became a big part of her life. After graduating she gained a position in the marketing department of the prestigious, UK-based The Wine Society, before joining Boutinot in 1990 and moving to France learn the trade:

“I was the sole employee in France back then! It was a time in my life when I knew if I didn’t grab the opportunity to go and live in France, I may never do it. There were very few women working in wine at that time, any who did were wine journalists in the main, but the cellars in particular were very much a male dominated environment.  Our office is situated in a rural part of France and I was female, English and didn’t eat meat! I was seen as quite a weird object, but I just got on with it! At the time people considered me quite ambitious – but I’m still here now, so it proves that if you have the will, anything is possible.”

“Attitudes to women in wine have changed enormously over the past 20 years. Now women are actively encouraged to pursue studies in wine now that they’ve realised that women have a more sensitive palate, and more sensitivity in general, perhaps! So yes, there are now more women in the industry, but also in the cellars.

It was a very male dominated environment when I first arrived in France, probably as it was a fairly manual role, but there’s no reason why women can’t work in a cellar – there’s no reason why women can’t handle grapes, drive tractors or manage hoses.

“In terms of any advice for women wanting to start a career in the wine world, I’d say ‘if you want to do it, make it happen’. It sounds a little abrupt but there are so many opportunities for studies, travel and experiences outside of the home environment. For me one of the hallmarks of a strong woman is knowing what you want and combining that with a sense of empathy and willingness to listen – I think those are also excellent traits to have if you want to succeed in wine, too!”



Collette O’Leary, Estate Manager & Head Winemaker, Henners Vineyard

Do what makes you happy! For Henners head winemaker Collette her ‘happy place’ is in the vineyard! Collette was previously working in PR before she decided it was time for a change and hasn’t looked back! She began studying at Plumpton College, graduating in 2014. From there she journeyed to California and South Africa, building up a wealth of winemaking experience, before heading back to English soil.

She joined Boutinot in early 2019 as estate manager and head winemaker at Henners vineyards in Sussex. After four years working as assistant winemaker at another winery, she felt that she was ready for a new challenge, which brought her to Henners:

“We’re a small team, so we do everything; from pruning to bottling, through to hand-applying the tabs over the top of the Native Grace bottles. We do it all and that’s quite unusual.”

It was not all that long ago that they were recognised for being obscure at best but over the last 10 years English vineyards have doubled and English Sparkling Wines especially have garnered a reputation internationally for their quality, rivalling some Champagnes. The potential of the region in general, is something that Collette is very excited about:

“It’s a really exciting time to be in the industry. The skills coming into it are immense. We’re getting better at understanding our climate and how to get better quality even in difficult years.”

Collette has been an integral part of great many of exciting changes and developments at Henners the last couple of years and we’re sure many more to come!


Samantha and Collette will be part of an all-female panel for the webinar ‘Setting Up For Success : Breaking Down Boundaries for Women in Wine’ at 8.30 am on Tuesday 16th March as part of the Boutinot International Virtual Festival: https://www.bigmarker.com/boutinot-wines1/Setting-Up-For-Success-Breaking-Down-Boundaries-for-Women-in-Wine


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