Women’s History Month in the United States grew from a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history, and society. In 1980, President Carter issued the original proclamation. In 1987, the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to expand the event to the entire month of March.
Nearly 10 percent of Oregon’s winemakers are female, according to a report by Great Northwest Wine. Though winemaking has traditionally been dominated by men, both in the states and abroad, women in the US have made pertinent strides to catch up to their male counterparts, in terms of creating complex wines. EdenVale Winery is fortunate enough to have part of the 10 percent. I was able to chat with Ashley Campanella, EdenVale Winery’s winemaker, and ask her about her experiences and why she chose to dive into the wine industry.
What is it about wine that makes you happy?
Ashley: What I like about winemaking are the daily changes and constant challenges. You are always working with the season, from pruning to harvest. Every year brings a new set of circumstances which can be challenging and other times they can be wonderful. It takes a balance of science and art to make the final glass of wine that people enjoy. You are also making a product that brings happiness and joy to people; whether it is a glass of wine at the end of a long day, a toast with close friends, or a celebration of a wedding. Wine is celebratory and memorable.
What drew you to make wine?
Ashley: My family began this business in 1999. My mother, Anne Root, convinced me to join her in getting it up and running. I returned in 2001 and started in the tasting room. While I managed the tasting room, I also began managing the events. As the event business grew, I found myself in the tasting room less and less until I was solely running the events department. In my spare time throughout these years I always found a way to work and help out in the winery. We have had two wonderful winemakers who were always happy to teach me as I worked alongside. In 2004, I began making my own wine under the tutoring of our winemaker. I took over the winemaker position in August of 2008 and have just completed my 7th harvest here at EdenVale.
Where did you study and where did you earn your degree?
Ashley: My college education is from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. I have a degree in Psychology and Marine Biology. My passion was to do dolphin assisted therapy with autistic children.
How do you feel about being one of the few female winemakers in Oregon?
Ashley: I am proud to be one of the few women winemakers. Though, I have never believed in jobs for women and jobs for men. I believe you can do anything you put your heart and soul into.
Finally, if you were not making wine for a living, what do you think you would be doing?
Ashley: I am not sure what I would do if I were not making wine. I would probably still be involved in the animal assisted therapy profession. However, I have also always wanted to have a bakery and an Italian deli. Who knows…