The Wonder of Women
Our wines celebrate Sophonisba, the tragic figure of antiquity who poisoned herself rather than surrender to Rome. Her heroism is legendary, and she’s served as the namesake for many boundary-pushing women throughout history, including a famous Italian Renaissance painter and an American suffragette and international delegate. Her death was a common subject in art starting in the 17th century. Instead of symbolically repeating her death, with these wines we celebrate her life – and the long legacy of bad-ass women who followed in her footsteps.
Sophonisba was a Carthaginian noblewoman born around 225 BC. Her legend goes like this: Her father was a general in Carthage, in present-day Tunisia, which was at war with the Roman Empire. She was betrothed to King Masinissa, but was forced to marry Syphax, who was allied with Rome and considered a better match. Incensed, Masinissa secretly conspired with Rome. Loyal to her country, Sophonisba convinced Syphax to turn against Rome and engage Masinissa’s forces in the Battle of Cirta, where Syphax’s forces were crushed. Afterwards she fell into Masinissa’s hands, who freed and married her.
But Rome refused the marriage and ordered her immediate surrender. Rather than returning to Rome as a slave, Sophonisba chose to take matters into her own hands. With great composure, she drank the poison that Masinissa offered her and died, berating him for making their marriage short and bitter.
Born into relative poverty in 1532 Italy, Sofonisba Anguissola leveraged her smarts and artistic talents to quickly become one of the greatest female painters of the Italian Renaissance, working with Michelangelo and painting for the Spanish Royal Court. In a time when women had scant options to study art, her success is a testament to her talent and perseverance.
Her contemporary, Giorgio Vasari, wrote that Anguissola "has shown greater application and better grace than any other woman of our age in her endeavors at drawing; she has thus succeeded not only in drawing, coloring and painting from nature, and copying excellently from others, but by herselfhas created rare and very beautiful paintings." She lived to the age of 93, dying in 1625.
Born in 1866, Sophonisba Breckinridge was an American activist, suffragette, social scientist, and innovator in higher education. She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in political science and economics and then a J.D. at the University of Chicago, and the first woman to pass the Kentucky bar.
In 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent her as a delegate to the 7th Pan-American Conference in Uruguay, making her the first woman to represent the U.S. government at an international conference. In addition, she led the process of creating the academic professional discipline and degree for social work, helped establish the NAACP, and helped promote the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. She died in 1948 at the age of 82.
Pinot Noir: the Feminine Grape
Jancis Robinson described Pinot Noir best in her book, Vines, Grapes and Wines:
“Pinot Noir is a minx of a vine. Indubitably feminine alas, if not exactly female, this is an exasperating variety for growers, winemakers and wine drinkers alike. It leads us a terrible dance, tantalizing with an occasional glimpse of the riches in store for those who persevere, yet obstinately refusing to be tamed.”
It's no wonder Pinot Noir is considered the most “feminine” and delicate of grapes. The world’s most popular light-bodied red wine, Pinot Noir is notoriously finicky during fermentation. But like Jancis reminds us, those who persevere are in for a rich experience. Our exquisite Pinot Noirs embody the unique strength and delicacy of women.
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