D.C.’s Women Sommeliers

A flurry of Instagram stories lit up my feed early this week after The Washington Post’s food critic failed to name any of the city’s female sommeliers during his weekly live chat.

The questioner even suggested there were only just a few. But the reality is there are an abundance of women in top wine positions across the Washington.  And just as Tom Sietsema asked in his reply, a list of D.C. Women in Wine curated by local industry women quickly emerged. Nearly 80 names as of this writing are included.

A screenshot from Tom Sietsema’s Q&A discussing women somms.

The tone of the Instagram posts ranged from outrage to opportunities to thank and uplift those who have been pivotal to opening doors for others in the industry.

And this illustrates why approaching wine and women is complicated. The perception of the lack of women in wine far outweighs the reality of what the community looks like.

Following these women, however, might be a good place to start: D.C. Women in Wine.

Tracking D.C.’s New Wine Bars


Wine in Washington, D.C., may be on the verge of getting an interesting moment. It makes sense. As the city’s dining options have drastically evolved and gained national attention, the appetite for more diversity in wine is a logical next step.

The city has always had restaurants with reliable high-end lists, shops to find good wine and places to go have a glass with friends.

Restaurants like The Red Hen, Ripple, Proof, The Partisan, Le Diplomate and Tail Up Goat are great options. While wine bars like Cork, Vinoteca and Eno have served the city’s millennial population well.

But seeking out geekier labels or getting exposure to something less mainstream can sometimes be a challenge if you don’t regularly travel to New York City or actively follow the wine scene on social media.

There’s some renewed hope, however, that may change now that several new
projects have recently been announced.

In journalism, we say that it takes three examples before you can start investigating something as a trend – so now that there are three, it’s time to start keeping track of what’s to come.

  • Sebastian Zutant (of Red Hen and their sister restaurant All Purpose) plans to open a
    wine bar focusing on natural wine. He already does a lot of that at both restaurants, and has been a strong proponent of orange wines here in D.C. I haven’t seen word yet on
    an opening date or location.
  • Brent Kroll, who ran the wine program for Neighborhood Restaurant Group (which
    includes The Partisan), recently moved over to be General Manager at Proof. But
    soon after he started, he announced he’s also planning to open his own wine bar.  Springtime in Shaw is what’s been reported so far.
  • Just this week, news that Dio Wine Bar, will be coming to H Street NE. Stacey Khoury-Diaz  also plans to focus on natural wine, taking inspiration from great New York places for natural wine, such as Ten Bells and Rouge Tomate.
  • There are also plans from The Dabney to open a wine bar in its basement.

It’s going to be interesting to see if D.C. can handle this much wine, and whether these establishments will appeal to those of us hoping to tip the city’s wine scene a bit in the geekier direction.