Andrea Mullineux, although one of South Africa’s greatest winemaking treasures, is not actually South African. Gasp! We know… but regardless of where Andrea came from, we’re happy that she’s here to stay.
In 2007, Andrea, along with her husband Chris, started Mullineux Wines, situated in the heart of the Swartland, and then evolved the company into Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines.
Andrea developed her passion for wine at the family dinner table, growing up in San Francisco. After studying Viticulture and Oenology at UC Davis, and completing a handful of harvests in the Napa Valley, Andrea worked in Stellenbosch, and then in Chateauneuf where on the same trip, she met Chris at a wine festival in Champagne. Andrea’s love for South African wine (and Chris) brought her back to South Africa where they learnt that their compatibility extended into the vineyards and cellar.
In 2014 Andrea was invited to join the Cape Winemakers Guild and in 2016 she was awarded International Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast. When Andrea is not hard at work in the cellar, her creative energies flow into the kitchen where she loves cooking up a storm with glass of wine in hand.
In light of National Women’s Month, we ask Andrea a few quick-fire questions on what National Women’s Month means to her, and whether female winemakers in South Africa are breaking the shackles in a male-dominated industry.
Q: What does National Women’s Month mean to you?
AM: For me, it’s fantastic dedicating an entire month to celebrating Women’s strength! It’s about making people aware that women’s issues are important. Although we are all human, there is so much inequality that needs to be addressed in the world.
Q: Do you agree that more women need to be empowered in positions of authority?
AM: Holding a woman back from positions of authority because of gender is a horrendous thought. but I am sure that it happens. Being in a positions of authority is something that needs to be earned, yet I feel that women are often (and unfairly) required to work twice as hard to receive the same recognition.
Q: Your message of inspiration to aspiring female winemakers?
AM: Women are born with a keen sense for nuances and attention to detail. I feel that these characteristics are noticeable in the wines that women have produced, from the delicate to the bold. There are still many hurdles in the wine industry, but it’s important that women show that they can hold their own, physically and mentally. There are requirements for the job that everyone needs to achieve, and to be honest, we need to approach it more logistically. We are all a team in the cellar. Sometimes, I think my other team members don’t notice my gender. Because of the challenge we, as women, face in the winemaking industry, we have to be supportive towards each other and celebrate our achievements and what makes our wines so special.
Q: What is your wine philosophy?
AM: I make wines that are as much in tune with nature as possible. I want the wines I make to reflect the soils in which they grow, both in texture and flavour. My hands-off yet attention to detail winemaking approach helps to achieve this.