Who is Carmen Stevens the Winemaker?

I warn you, this will be a very sloppy post, because it’s Saturday night, and I don’t feel like doing my research, or taking a beautiful photograph of a wine bottle and uploading it.

Carmen Stevens is a female winemaker in an industry dominated by men.  Not only that, she’s a black winemaker in a country where wine used to be almost exclusively a white industry.  This country is South Africa.

Winemaking began there a couple of centuries ago by Dutch settlers, and continued slowly by whites, but never took off internationally when there was apartheid, because of all the sanctions and disapproval of other countries.  After apartheid, great effort was put into making a more inclusive wine industry, and people like Carmen were able to enter it.

It was not without it’s challenges, however.  Via Natalie McLean, the wine writer (I think this is where I read it), I learned that Carmen was rejected from winemaking school once or twice, even though she had a stellar background.  Not only that, but she still faces many critics who believe she has her spot not because of her ability, but only because of affirmative action.  Yet people who know better consider her one of the finest winemakers in South Africa.

So I was so excited to learn that NakedWines.com had a Chenin Blanc by her for $8.49 (retail $16).  Not only would it be my first time trying her wine, but also one of the few South African Chenin Blancs I’ve ever had.  (South Africa is famous for Chenin Blanc).

It arrived in the mail, and I couldn’t be happier with it.  A wild, untamed quality results from the farminess of a N.Z. Sauvignon Blanc combined with the heavy petrol of a riesling.  At the core, crisp nectarine.  A fun drink after a long day.

–Carol

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