Wine. We drink it, we bond over it, we bring it to parties, we sip chug it alone after a long day...but with as much wine as you might consume/personal taste-tests completed, which are really the best bottles for your buck? We got the scoop from 9 women who work in the wine industry—and have trained all over the world—to tell us their budget-friendly picks. (Beats our "expert" knowledge of "go for the pretty label," anyway.)
Maria del Yerro of Alonso del Yerro
What she does: A longtime translator and interpreter, this mom of five (and grandmother to six!) combined her love of family and wine to create a winery with her husband, Alonso del Yerro, in 2002. Their son Miguel joined the business a couple of years ago and manages the winery—but Maria is involved in everything, especially hosting winery tours for visitors.
Her pick: Maria 2011
Why it's so good: "Not just because it carries my name (!), but because it is absolutely my wine style: powerful but elegant, with many floral aromas, very spicy, very dense in the palate and, above all, with great persistence that makes you savor it for long time."
Natalia Ortega Gil Fournier of O.Fournier
What she does: After working in human resources and as a consultant, Natalia changed it all up and went into business to start O.Fournier Group, a winery she shares with her brother and father. As the brand ambassador for O.Fournier in the Ribera region of Spain, Natalia gets to talk all wine, all the time.
Her pick: The Urban Ribera or the Spiga
Why they're so good: "To choose my favorite wine is as difficult as to choose my favorite child. The Urban Ribera is fun and direct, the Spiga is more elegant and with a richer 'conversation'—every sip smells and taste different like if the wine will want to talk to you. For a casual day I will choose the Urban, for a nice dinner with my husband, I will choose the Spiga."
Noelia Callejo of Felix Callejo
What she does: Having trained and made wines in other parts of the world, including California and Argentina, she came back to the winery her father built when she was just five years old. There, she is currently the second oenologist (wine-making specialist/grower), working alongside her brother Jose Felix and chief winemaker Bodegas Felix Callejo.
Her pick: The Lebrero
Why it's so good: "Albillo-barrel fermented, it is one of our most nurtured wines. It is long, balanced, expressive, and has fruit-bearing recollections with a bit of spice."
Belen Sanz Cid of Dehesa de los Canónigos
What she does: Holding the title of Winemaker, Technical Specialist in viticulture and oenology, Belen interned at many notable wineries in the region before joining up with her brother to run their winery. Her brother Ivan is the head of viticulture, while Belen is the head winemaker.
Her pick: Solideo 2011
Why it's so good: "It's a wine made from the grapes in our oldest vineyard—which I liken to a wise person you should listen to! It's a wine that gets me excited when I taste and sense its potential longevity, its refined nose of remarkable intensity, and an elegant palate with fine tannins."
Alejandra Sanz of Menade
What she does: After a career in journalism, Alejandra now runs the communications and commercial export of the family-run winery (alongside her two siblings).
Her pick: Nosso
Why it's so good: "I could spend quite some time drinking our natural verdejo wine, Nosso. It is so unique—different and pure. It is a wine with no make-up! It was our first venture into breaking the mold and seeking a natural but soundly expression of local purity. It reminds me of the smell in the air on the first day of the harvest, and of wet earth. Its flavor is like taking a walk on the Castilian Meseta."
Marina Pariente Prieto of José Pariente
What she does: Marina is an oenologist and wine producer for her family winery Bodegas José Pariente, where she serves as the technical director under her mother, Victoria Parente (CEO) and alongside her brother.
Her pick: José Cuvee Especial
Why it's so good: "It has elegance and finesse. This is a 100% Verdejo wine, with grapes from old vines and produced in concrete egg-shaped tanks. The volume and opulence of the wine blend has a sort of kindness and subtlety. It's a wine I can recommend for almost any occasion."
Marta Martinex-Bujanda of Finca Montepedroso
What she does: After studying international business and living abroad, Marta joined the family business as export manager in 2002. She travels all around the world representing Finca Montepdedroso.
Her pick: Finca Montepedroso 100% Verdejo
Why it's so good: "The vineyard was bought in 2008 and we had built a beautiful winery in the vineyard to make a single wine from that single vineyard of 25 hectares. This wine (100% Verdejo) is fermented in stainless steel tank and has a balanced acidity with freshness and a fruit finish."
Carmen San Martín Gutiérrez of De Alberto
What she does: Carmen has been working for Hijos de Alberto Gutiérrez for 14 years, and in 2012, she became the general manager. Recently she was elected president of the Rueda Designation of Origin Regulatory Council. Under her leadership, Hijos de Alberto has invested in equipment, technology and personnel to maintain the quality standards and winemaking style that today's consumers demand, while maintaining their philosophy and traditions that have accompanied this family firm for generations.
Her pick: De Alberto Verdejo 100% Vendimia Seleccionada
Why it's so good: "This wine was created in memory of my great grandfather Alberto Gutierrez, and I have a special affection for it. This wine is made with a selection of grapes from our oldest vineyards. Alberto is a soft and delicate wine—Verdejo from Rueda at its best, made with great care and affection. Its aromas are not overly expressive, but allow the wine to express its fullness on the palate. One has taste it to see what I'm talking about. Subtlety, elegance, body—my favorite wine."
Tina Silverberg of Legal Sea Foods
What she does: Tina is the Corporate Sommelier for Legal Sea Foods. In this role she conducts wine education for employees and coordinates winemaker events for the Boston-based restaurant group's 33 locations. Tina enjoys traveling to wine-producing regions and has visited France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Napa, Sonoma, and Oregon.
Her picks: Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc 2015 or Barco de Piedra 2014
Why they're so good: "The Southern Right Sauvignon Blanc is a very aromatic wine showcasing fresh lime and grapefruit notes. The finish is lighter bodied, crisp and refreshing, with mineral nuances. Translation: easy to drink and pairs well with raw shellfish and seafood. Plus, a portion of the profits for every bottle sold go to the Southern Right Whale conservation fund. For the Barco de Piedra, it's made in the Ribera del Duero region, which is a great go-to if you enjoy a bright, berry-driven red wine at a fantastic value. The wine is a small production selection made from Tempranillo grapes that come from three hillside parcels on the El Quiñón Estate and features enticing aromas and flavors of black cherry, black raspberry, violet, and smoke. The finish is medium textured, bold and velvety with peppery spices. A perfect warming red wine for autumn and winter, which pairs well with meats and cheese."
Jessica Norris of Del Frisco's Restaurant Group
What she does: Jessica began her career in wine in 2008 as a server at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House New York to support her Master's Degree in Opera Performance. She quickly recognized her passion for the world of wine and transitioned to the wine team, eventually working her way up to Wine Director, overseeing an all-female sommelier team in New York. After doing so successfully for a number of years, Jessica was recently appointed Director of Wine Education, overseeing the wine programs in all 53 Del Frisco's Restaurant Group locations.
Her pick: Mouton Noir's Horseshoes & Handgrenades
Why it's so good: A Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Washington state, this wine lives up to its "I'm-not-a-stuffy-wine" reputation and is a hoot to drink with friends. Plus, it's absolutely killer with a burger.
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Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for Latina.com, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.
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