Winning Women Winemakers


Cristiana Mariani-May, President & CO-CEO

"The beverage alcohol industry is male-dominated, but it’s changing, and I do what I can to educate and empower women in our business. What’s truly rewarding is while we are helping other women they are also helping us by sharing their experiences, insights, and passion for discovery." 

- Cristina Mariani-May

Forbes Lifestyle just featured our own Honorary International Vintner, Cristiana Mariani-May in their "Women Behind The Brands," series to honor women paving the way in business for Women's History Month. Cristinia is not only a DCWAF vitner, she is also headlining the South Walton Beaches Wine and Food Festival

What we learned about Cristiana Mariani-May?

While earning a BA at Georgetown University, she lived and studied at Georgetown’s campus in Florence, Italy. This is where she developed her passion for all things Italian, falling in love with the rolling hillsides, culture, and food of Tuscany. After this she went on to earn her MBA from Columbia Business School, and then worked her way up in her family's company to secure the position of Co-CEO of Castello Banfi Vintners.

Her greatest inspiration is her Great Aunt Teodolinda Banfi, whom she never had the pleasure to meet, however is still very much influenced by her pioneering, faithful, hardworking, dedicated, and fearless qualities, yet still maintaing her grace.

We loved that her Great Aunt's strength and success showed her, "...the importance of family, how it needs to be balanced with work, and that a woman can succeed in both."

She's paying it forward! 

"It’s important to stay connected and make yourself available." 

How is she paying it forward? Mentoring for the Women's Alliance programs at Columbia and Georgetown for graduates as well as with other institutions Banfi partners with; Cornell, Culinary Institute of America, and Johnson and Wales, and by participating in industry events such as the upcoming “Women of the Vine Global Symposium."

In a Huffington Post, "Women in Business Q&A," Cristiana addresses the biggest challenges women face in business today...

Q: What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?

A: Work life balance, no doubt. How to manage kids, marriage, and work. So much falls on a woman's shoulders, it can cause incredible anxiety. I find that if we are open about our vulnerability and authentic in our feelings, we can work through the challenges and find kinship in other women who face the same daily grind. I love the Ted Talk by Brené Brown on Vulnerability. Check it out, it has 15 million views and she is so inspirational and honest..

And a nice glass of wine always helps too!"

Bravo, Cristina for making the Forbes, "Womens Behind the Brands" list! DCWAF is proud to have several female winemakers attending this year who have paved the way for women in business and the industry...


Beth Novak Milliken, President & CEO

In a 2015 interview with Fortune Magazine, Beth Novak Millliken of Spotteswoode spoke on her experience of running the Spotteswoode Winery with her mother and sister.

Q: What’s it like running the vineyard as a woman?

A: More wineries are owned by men and men are the driving force. If my husband accompanies me to a tasting at Spottswoode, people often make the assumption that he is the one running the winery. He says he is the spouse of the president. But I don’t make a big thing about it. I don’t think there is any real gender dynamic with female winemakers in charge of the business.

Q: You were the first female president of the Napa Valley Vintners Association. Did you feel any pressure taking on that role? 
A: When you are working for a family winery, people are obviously going to think the reason I got that opportunity is because of my last name. So I always thought I had to prove myself. Without saying it, you want to prove yourself. Keep your head down and do a really good job and hope that people notice what you bring to the table. I think I carried that into being on the vintners board and being president. 


 Merry Edwards, President & CEO 

      After over 40 years in wine and overcoming many obstacles in the wine industry, Edwards has now established an acclaimed and celebrated character in the world of vintners. Among many accolades Merry has received recently, in February she was inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame by the Culinary Institute of America – only the third woman to receive this honor. She has also received some monumental scores from critics. Wine Enthusiast Magazine gave top marks to Merry’s 2010 Pinots, including 95 points for Coopersmith and Olivet Lane, and 93 points for Georganne.


Shirley Roy, President & CEO 

Over 15 years ago Shirley and her late husband Charles Roy embarked on a mission to become one of the elite winemakers in Napa Valley. Since the passing of her husband in 2010, Shirley has committed to their vision.

“I think of ROY Estate with romance and passion. 

I believe I am both honored and blessed to be where I am.” 


“This vineyard continues to go from strength to strength and the wines are a tribute to Shirley Roy who has carried on so impressively in the absence of her husband.” 

— Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate


“Shirley is an amazing woman who has serious passion for her home and wines. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and hope you all will, too.” 

– Jimmy Walker 


Michaela Mayo 

Published on Friday, March 11, 2016