The women carve out a place in the vineyards

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Researcher at the Purpan School of Engineering, Chloé Le Brun of Toulouse has published a thesis on “The feminization of viticulture”. Entitled “Individual and collective struggles and claims of winegrowers and challenges to gender relations in viticulture”, this work is the result of 4 years of research funded by the Occitania Region and EI PURPAN.

Are we witnessing a feminization of viticulture? “Yes, even if it should be noted from the beginning that women have always been present in this sector. But they were invisible, without status. In a word, their work was not taken into consideration ”, announces Chloé Le Brun. This sociology lecturer-researcher at the Purpan School of Engineering has just published a thesis on “The feminization of viticulture”. For 4 years she interviewed the winegrowers “but also the winegrowers, to understand their trajectories”.
In Occitania, as in France, the data confirm the presence of women in wine. “Viticulture is the third most feminized agricultural orientation (after horticulture, horticulture and the breeding of sheep and goats). It has 29% female farmers or prime co-farmers (compared to 27% in agriculture). Among the heads of companies and newly established co-farmers under 40, 23% are women (compared to 19% in agriculture) ”, observes the researcher.
For 20 years, the feminization rate in viticulture has been higher than in agriculture. “A new recognition has been given to the work of women, starting from the 1970s, a period in which the vineyards made the transition towards more qualitative productions. Many then left the cooperatives to produce, make wine and market their own wine at home, in private cellars. It was also the time when many spouses became winemakers and took on these new positions. Others took the opportunity to gain recognition for the work they were already doing, ”continues Chloé Le Brun.
If women are increasingly turning to wine production, they are not the only ones. There are countless personalities from sport and entertainment who do the same, such as Sébastien Chabal or Christophe Urios. “The wine sector is highly appreciated in the context of professional requalification, because wine is a symbolic product, deeply rooted in our national identity. It is very interesting in the context of new structures, especially outside the family context ”, underlines the teacher.

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Various profiles

But let’s get back to our winemakers. Historically, she had access to viticulture mainly through marriage, “passing from daughter to peasant wife”. Today women embrace this profession in many ways, “either they take over the family assets, or they settle outside the family, after a first professional career”, explains Chloé Le Brun. However, the winegrower population is very heterogeneous. “There are completely different profiles, social classes, backgrounds, relationships with the profession, professional identities, professional status …”. Today, many girls and women from winemaking families are taking over the estates and leading a new dynamic, based on the studies they have done. “They claim their status and are there to participate in the decisions. And in fact they contribute to renewing the profession ”, concludes the researcher.

Is there a female wine?

Do women who embrace a career as a winemaker make a feminine wine? For the teacher-researcher Chloé Le Brun, author of a thesis on “The feminization of viticulture”, “this does not exist, it is a truly accepted idea. The wines of the winemakers are not female. We tend to speak of so-called “women’s” wines when we have rounder, more delicate, softer, less tannic drinks, but also when the wines are produced by winemakers. However, all the winemakers I have met are struggling with this received idea that there is a potential difference. They want to deconstruct this cliché, even if they have a possibly different approach, practice and vision on this business. It is also linked to their professional paths, which led them to study before becoming winemakers. When they start their profession, they bring new things, ”says Chloé Le Brun.

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