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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Anastasia Edwards

Women of Wine UK (WOW) held its first official post-launch event last week at London restaurant Thyme. Entitled Small Women, Big Wines', the event, which attracted a full house of over 70 new and prospective members (70 women have joined so far), featured a panel of three procucers: Basaline Despagne, Despagne, Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux; Bibi Garcia, Celler Vall Llach, Priorat; and Mara Martnez-Sierra, Bodegas Montecillo, Rioja. The event was chaired by Patricia Stefanowicz MW, who asked the panellists what they found to be the challenges of being a woman working in their respective regions, and also about how they marketed their wines in their export markets. Garcia admitted that it had been challenging being a woman, especially a young one, in Priorat: I feel that the wine world is a male one, and it also involves a lot of physical work, especially in a small winery. Psychologically, it is also challenging to oversee several older men, many of whom have far more experience than I do.' Martnez-Sierra, the charismatic, self-styled Queen of Montecillo', agreed: I am sure you cannot imagine how my country was in the 1960s. When I first started, everybody viewed me as a possible danger! But I liked that. I am a fighter: if I don't fight, I don't survive.' Despagne, who is in charge of marketing for her family's company, said: There are many positive sides to being a woman in the wine world. Women in sales positions are relatively new in the wine world, and I find that at tastings, buyers are attracted to my table because they find it interesting to see a woman selling wines.' The next formal WOW event will be a tasting event in mid-May, and on 30 March there will be an informal producer event in London, featuring Catherine Moueix, owner of Chteaux Taillefer (Pomerol) and Tauzinat l'Hermitage (Saint Emilion Grand Cru), and Florence Forgas, winemaker at Chteau Ducla, Entre- Deux-Mers. For more information, please e-mail