Ms. at the Movies: Pairing Women & Wine with Females & Flicks: RBG



– “The Bullpen” by Dessa

You don’t need to be loud to make a change.  You don’t need to get angry or make others angry.  You just need to be passionate and to act out of that passion.  People will listen.  Because they’ll have to.  When your words and action come from a place of ownership and pride, everybody will hear you.

This month’s pairing features a pioneer winemaker who took the land into her own hands, literally, when no one else would dare to do it — with what I am deeming is the most important film of 2018.

I defy you to find a better pairing than the riveting documentary “RBG” and the 2013 Bush Hawke Vineyard Fiano from winemaker Jenny Dobson.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has managed to become both a legal legacy and a celebrity icon.  Notorious for her vocal dissents and quiet demeanor, she has proven that great things do indeed come in small packages.  The documentary “RBG” from filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen gives us an intimate look at one of the most unassuming and powerful women of our generation.

From the moment the film started and the opening credits rolled, I knew I was in for something different.  Every name on the screen was female; the editor, the cinematographer, the composer.  It’s fitting that the woman who has spent her life fighting against gender discrimination would have practically an all-female crew depicting her life.  “RBG” is riveting and powerful, just like the “Notorious RBG” herself.  A mixture of interviews, archived sound bites, and televised public appearances give us an intimate look at one of the smallest women who has made some of the biggest changes.

“RBG” is inspirational in its storytelling about a woman’s fight for gender equality during a time when she, herself, couldn’t get hired because of her sex.  Touching, is another word I’ll use in the film’s portrayal of one woman’s genuine passion for the law and what the law represents.  You will laugh along with Justice Ginsburg as she watches Kate McKinnon portray her for the first time on “Saturday Night Live”.  You will get up out of your seat and cheer when you hear how Ginsburg argued and won the landmark United States Supreme Court case Frontiero v. Richardson, which decided that benefits given by the United States military to the family of service members cannot be given out differently because of sex.  Most important, you will jump on the internet meme bandwagon and start quoting, “You can’t spell TRUTH without RUTH”.


2013 Bush Hawke Vineyard Fiano & Winemaker Jenny Dobson.

Nicknamed the “queen of red wine blending” for her winemaking work in her home country, Jenny Dobson took her passion for New Zealand terroir and created some of the most dynamic wines to ever come out of that region.  Prior to Dobson, Fiano was typically only seen as Fiano di Avellino, a white grape indigenous to the volcanic soils of Avellino in Naples, Italy.  But Dobson saw the volcanic terroir and microclimate of a specific area in New Zealand as an opportunity to branch out and try something new.  And try something new she did.

Unique to Dobson as a winemaker is that the grapes and the vineyards she works with don’t belong to her – but her sense of ownership and pride in the land makes her an attractive asset to wineries everywhere.  They basically hand over their land to Dobson with full trust that she can find something special where no one else could.  “Wine needs to be an expression of the place,” Dobson has said.  “It needs to be made with passion….it has to have an identity.”  With Jenny Dobson, the winemaker is the “constant” and the terroir is the “variable”, but what you always get is a uniquely layered wine.

The 2013 Bush Hawke Vineyard Fiano is representative of Dobson’s innovative winemaking skills.  A moderately weighty, aromatic wine with honey, anise, apple, and honeysuckle flavors, the wine is dry, with reasonable low acidity.  I’ve never tasted anything from New Zealand quite like this, which only makes me more excited to see what the future has in store for New Zealand and the wines to come out of it.

What we get from the film “RBG”, from winemaker Jenny Dobson, and from her 2013 Bush Hawke Vineyard Fiano is a reminder that if you’re truly passionate about something – about anything – you can make it happen.  There’s no such thing as adversity — only mere obstacles that don’t stand a chance.  Because when passion calls, everyone listens.