Today is a perfect day to write about Donatella Cinelli Colombini . Donatella was the second woman that I met in 2005 who worked in the wine business and was part of the organization, Le Donne del Vino.She is the President of Le Donne del Vino and of the Brunello Consortium. I met Donatella when I was writing the first piece of my as of yet unfinished opera on wine. Donatella runs one of the first all female wineries, Casato Prime Donne. She told me in a brief interview years ago that she decided to hire all woman when she went looking for a cellar master and they said with chagrin that there were only women left, no one wanted them in the winery. Her 16 hectare winery makes Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino from 16 hectare of Sangiovese grapes. They use natural winemaking, including indigenous yeasts. She vinifies her wines in open vats, a traditional method in Montalcino.
I had the pleasure of seeing her this morning as I did a Skype chat about Les Dames d’Escoffier for Le Donne del Vino together with other women from different organizations around the world. Donatella is first and foremost one of the leading women in wine, a fabulous marketing expert, a lover of art and an incredible source of great Brunello. I tried her wines at Benvenuto Brunello in Montalcino last year at the Anteprime as well as in New York.
When I spoke to her some years ago Donatella told me how much the industry has changed since she began and even since we had our talk in 2005. Now, she said, 1/3 of “all aziende agricole” or wineries are run by women. She noted that they generally tend to do better than their male counterparts because women are more flexible and are used to dealing with crisis better. “It is sort of like the difference between having an orchestra director of the symphony and having a jazz orchestra. The latter is more similar to a female rule at a winery, more freedom, more liberty.” she noted. ‘Women are also great consumers of wine today. They are less loyal to one brand and are more adventurous and very well informed about the wines they drink.”
Since I know she is an art lover, she used to be the Assessore alla Cultura in Siena, I asked what artist she thought was comparable to a Brunello, Rembrandt or Velazquez, she replied. I thought her answer was fascinating, two painters that I adore, whose paintings are profound, layered and nuanced, just like her Brunello. Also, both quite masculine painters. Interesting.