“JUST WHEN YOU THINK IT CAN’T GET ANY WORSE, YOU RUN OUT OF CIGARETTES.”
– Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird, “CAROL”
The focus of my monthly column is to pair a female-helmed film with a wine from a female winemaker. Sometimes the wine (or beer or cocktail) comes to me first. Sometimes the film comes to me first. Either way, I try to find a common through line between the two. I always want to celebrate these women. Not for being women, but for creating something special. Something different.
This month, it was more of a pressing issue that inspired me. After months of debate about the wage gap and the status of women in Hollywood, reviewing a movie with two female leads and a female-centric topic should have been a no-brainer! I could talk about the strong message this film sends about female box office power. Alas, there was no power at the box office from this majestic film. And it got me thinking about the winemakers I read about; what’s it got to be like to be a woman who makes wine, in an industry that has historically been male-dominant, and still, to this day, continues to act as more of a “boy’s club”? How can you push through and persevere with the story YOU want to tell, when the industry that surrounds you clearly isn’t ready for you yet??
For both women in film and women in wine, the idea of an unprepared industry that influences American culture is what inspired me to choose the 2016 multi-Oscar nominated film “Carol” and Lynn Penner-Ash’s 2013 Yamhill-Carlton AVA Pinot Noir.
March’s Movie: “CAROL”
“CAROL” tells the story of a young aspiring photographer and her relationship with an older woman going through a difficult divorce, set in New York in the 1950s. The role of Carol is played by the always lovely and severely nuanced Cate Blanchett, while her young lover is played by the subtle & delicate Rooney Mara.
“CAROL”, while racking up nominations from the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and SAG Awards, just to name a few – became one of the biggest Oscar-winning snubs of the year. Why, you ask? Sadly, the film has been deemed as being just “too gay”. Evidently, Hollywood still isn’t ready for the reality of female homosexuality in film. Vanity Fair author Richard Larson describes “CAROL” as “a film written by a gay woman (based on a book by a gay woman), directed by a gay man, that speaks in a vernacular that, I’d guess, only queer people are fully fluent in.” That flippant attitude permeated throughout Hollywood and left “CAROL” at a standstill. Somewhere in between inappropriateness and brilliance.
“DO WOMEN REALLY TASTE BETTER THAN MEN?”
“I DON’T KNOW. I’VE NEVER TASTED A MAN.”
– Lynn Penner-Ash, Owner Penner-Ash Wines
March’s Wine: PENNER-ASH WINE CELLAR’S 2013 YAMHILL-CARLTON AVA PINOT NOIR
As a woman in the wine industry, and one of Oregon’s first female winemakers, Lynn Penner-Ash says, it wasn’t easy to be taken seriously at first. “…they’ll say [to me], do you know anything about what they are doing down there (on the production floor)? I just want to go, ‘No, I know nothing’, and walk away, but you can’t…You have to be polite….And sometimes, it’s really, really difficult because you just want to jump up.” Lynn has spent over 30 years in the wine industry, starting at Stag’s Leap in Napa, before moving on to Rex Hill in Oregon, where she later started her own winery and nurtured her own brand. Yet despite the influx of females in the wine industry, only 10 percent of Oregon winemakers are female. That’s 43 female winemakers. Lynn Penner-Ash and Penner-Ash Wine Cellars have been deemed with some of the highest praise in the wine world, and yet, Penner-Ash still battles being seen as a “woman winemaker” as opposed to what she really is…a winemaker.
Nuances in femininity should be celebrated. So, while enjoying Cate Blanchett in “CAROL”, sip on Lynn Penner-Ash’s 2013 YAMHILL-CARLTON AVA PINOT NOIR. With teasing aromas of red cherry, salted plums, vanilla, and tobacco, you also get a sensual dark chocolate and sweet black-fruited core that will go along just splendidly as you follow the forbidden love affair between Carol and Therese.
Watch this movie. Drink this wine. And remember to celebrate that which deserves to be celebrated, without any sense of hesitation or discrimination.