7 Women Sommeliers Shattering the Glass Ceiling One Wine Glass at a Time
By: WE Staff
For centuries, wine has been an enduring pleasure, yet its world was largely confined to male dominance. The wine industry is now witnessing a transformative shift as a rising cohort of talented women breaks through barriers to become sommeliers.
In India, this change is particularly remarkable, with a surge of women sommeliers earning both acclaim and reverence for their expertise. Some of the visionary women are rewriting the narrative, inspiring others to join their ranks, and etching an unforgettable legacy on the Indian wine landscape have not only acquired the necessary professional qualifications but have also garnered widespread recognition and respect for their mastery of wine. Their journey inspires a generation of aspiring sommeliers, shattering glass ceilings and nurturing a more inclusive wine community in India.
So, we must pay tribute to seven exceptional women who are revolutionizing the wine landscape with their accomplishments, individuality, and fresh perspectives.
Anushka Pandkar is a qualified sommelier and one of India's few women to achieve this prestigious title. She is employed at ITC Maratha, a five-star hotel in Mumbai, where she creates and manages wine programs, hosts wine tastings and dinners, and imparts wine knowledge to guests and staff.
Anushka is also a wine consultant and importer, utilizing her skills and enthusiasm in various aspects of the wine industry. Her love for wine has led her to explore numerous wine regions worldwide, where she has gained insights from leading winemakers and tasted some of the most exquisite wines. In addition to wine, Anushka is passionate about animal welfare and participates in various related initiatives.
The founder and director of Magic Cellars, Gargi Kothari, is making waves in the wine education and consultancy domain in India. As a certified sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers and a WSET diploma holder, Gargi has collaborated with leading hotels, restaurants, and wine importers in India and abroad.
She has a burning desire to foster wine awareness and culture in India through her courses, tastings, events, and cellar management expertise.
Sonal Holland is a pioneering figure in the Indian wine industry, having been bestowed with the prestigious title of India's first and only Master of Wine. As the founder of Sonal Holland Wine Academy, she is a leading figure in wine education and consultancy in the country. Her influence extends to various domains as a wine educator, consultant, judge, speaker, and influencer. Sonal's efforts have significantly contributed to raising the profile of Indian wines on the global stage.
The third-generation winemaker at Grover Zampa Vineyards, Karishma Grover, brings her passion and expertise to one of India's oldest and most distinguished wine producers. With a degree in viticulture and oenology from UC Davis and experience working in Napa Valley and Australia, Karishma leads the winemaking operations at three Grover Zampa wineries. She actively supports initiatives like Women on Wine (WOW) and Women of the Vine & Spirits, empowering women in the wine industry.
Madhulika Bhattacharya is the founder of La Cave, which is India's first wine retail chain that specializes in exclusive wines. As a certified sommelier and WSET diploma holder, she has been instrumental in introducing new wines and regions to the Indian market while educating consumers and professionals alike.
Madhulika's journey as an avid traveller and blogger, documented on The Delhi Wine Club, further fuels her passion for wine and sharing her experiences with others.
Shatbhi Basu is a trailblazing figure in India's mixology scene. As the first female bartender in the country, she has made a significant impact and holds certifications as a sommelier and WSET diploma holder. Known for her expertise as a trainer, consultant, author, and TV host, she has created numerous signature cocktails and has mentored countless bartenders across India. Shatbhi is a strong advocate for women pursuing bartending careers and breaking stereotypes in the hospitality industry.
Ruma Singh is an esteemed wine writer, blogger, and educator, possessing certifications from the Court of Master Sommeliers and WSET. She is widely acknowledged for her valuable contributions to numerous national and international publications, primarily in the areas of wine, food, and travel.
Through her blog "Between the Wines," Ruma shares her valuable insights and opinions on wine, enriching the wine culture in India. Active in various wine associations and societies, she continues to contribute to the industry's growth.
These seven remarkable women sommeliers in India are leading the charge in challenging stereotypes, promoting wine culture, and revolutionizing the industry. Their achievements, individuality, and perspectives inspire and empower countless others to follow their passion for wine. Their dedication and expertise have played a crucial role in creating a wine community in India that is more inclusive and diverse.
Let us raise a glass to these trailblazers, toasting their success and the bright future they are shaping for the Indian wine industry.