Showcasing California's Women Winemakers
California is home to some world-class winemakers, and Lucia Gilbert is here to tell us all about them. As a professor of psychology and counseling psychology, Gilbert’s 15 years of research has primarily focused on women working in traditionally male-dominated fields. But when Gilbert started developing her own wine palette (her favorite varietal being a zinfandel), she got to thinking about women working as winemakers in the Golden State—where 90 percent of the country’s wine is produced.
“There’s this view in California that women have shattered the glass ceiling, but we haven’t thought about this concept in terms of winemakers,” she says. So Gilbert got to work.
As the lead investigator on the project—in partnership with her husband John Gilbert, a professor in SCU’s Chemistry and Biochemistry Department—she developed a searchable, online resource of California's women winemakers and their plethora of accomplishments by combing through the 480 recognized wineries in the state, including two alumni-affiliated wineries: Pellegrini Vineyards and J. Lohr Vineyards and Wines.
“Many of the younger winemakers went to UC Davis and studied viticulture and enology, trained in Spain, France, Argentina, Chile, and Australia, worked many harvests, and climbed their way up at the same winery or at different wineries. So we wanted to share not just their work, but their stories.”
By providing the most comprehensive and accurate information currently available on women winemakers in California—the first of its kind in the state—Gilbert’s database includes a winemaker, winery, and wine region search portal—in addition to capturing the stories behind the evolution of these winemakers’ careers, including
When Gilbert began this research in 2011, she enlisted the help of various SCU students, including her primary research assistant Bianca Zardetto ‘15, who is now in the graduate program for counseling psychology. Since then, her students have helped her brainstorm how to strengthen the research while in the classroom, giving them the chance to work with applied, not theoretical, research methods.
“They really love this work because it opens their minds to concepts they never considered before, giving them a new set of skills and exposing them to the journeys of all these women,” she says. “They love seeing how their careers change over time. These women are so inspirational in pursing what they love.”