Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

6 LGBTQ winemakers you need to know

Want to celebrate a great LGBTQ winemaker and their work? Here are some great options

A clank of two rainbow glasses
DREAMSTOCK1982/Westend61/Adobe Stock

As the wine industry keeps on putting in the work when it comes to real diversity, the community is increasingly blessed with added personalities and perspectives. The scene, which is still arguably dominated by white males, is making way for things such as Black-owned drinks brands, female ownership, and inclusion in general.

One area that remains relatively unrepresented in the industry is the queer community. LGBTQ winemakers take up such a small section of the American wine world that their stories typically go untold. There’s momentum at work looking to change this, what with special tour groups and  orchestrated around wine, but by and large, the gay winemaking realm is lacking in resources, awareness, and appreciation. 

Wine is for everybody. Until the disproportionate demographic stats within the industry start to level out, there are still barriers to tear down. Fortunately, with wine, that can translate into enjoying a glass of syrah while supporting inclusivity and equal access. Here are six out-of-the-closet winemakers whose excellent work should be on your radar. 

The winemakers of Gentleman Farmer.
Facebook/Gentleman Farmer

Joe Wolosz and Jeff Durham

, based in the Napa Valley, specializes in Bordeaux-style red blends, along with chardonnay and rose. The winemaking reigns are held by partners Joe Wolosz and Jeff Durham, a duo known in the Yountville area for their warm brand of hospitality. The couple was born in raised in California and operates with a genuine sense of pride and ownership in showing off rare wine-growing powers.

The winemaker Remy Drabkin at a tasting
Zachary Goff

Remy Drakbin

Oregon producer Remy Drabkin pours her work under her  from a scenic tasting room in the acclaimed Dundee Hills. The McMinnville native has a fondness for Italian varietals especially, such as Sangiovese, Dolcetto, and Nebbiolo. Well-traveled and vastly experienced (having worked harvests since a teen), Drabkin has a sharp cellar acumen that leads to tasty and sometimes unexpected wines, like Auxerrois and Lagrein. Always up to something positive, Drabkin is also the mayor of McMinnville and behind the nation’s first Queer Wine Fest.

Theresa Heredia

Theresa Heredia

Theresa is a gifted LGBT Latina vintner who heads the cellar at lauded Russian River Valley label . She’s gained a following thanks to her carefully assembled pinot noir and chardonnay expressions. The label launched back in 1982 and continues to be a model citizen and much-appreciated outfit even within the crowded northern California wine scene.

Krista Scruggs
Robb Report

Krista Scruggs

Commanded by Krista Scruggs,  is a wine project rooted in both Vermont (yes, there’s a Vermont wine scene) and Texas. Scruggs works with both grape clusters and apples, sometimes fermenting the two together. Her wines are best described as natural and extremely intriguing in makeup. As the website says, there’s a purity to the practice, with no funny business in the cellar. ZAFA is woman-owned and has vowed to maintain a staff of at least 85% women in a quest to level the playing field.

Mark Lyon
First Vine

Mark Lyon

Lyon is the founder and vintner of  in Sonoma. The seasoned wine veteran touts more than three decades of experience, including a lengthy cellar run at Sebastiani Vineyards. He’s currently focused on biodynamically farmed sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, and balanced red blends. Very much a complex working farm, the Eco Terreno estate includes a pair of vineyards, a bee garden, and a regenerative agricultural approach.

Iris Vineyards winemaker Aaron Lieberman.
Iris VIneyards

Aaron Lieberman

Lieberman is the winemaker at , a beautiful label set in the southern Willamette Valley. He studied soil science at Oregon State University before working at a number of esteemed Oregon outfits, including De Ponte Cellars and Amity Vineyards. At Iris, Lieberman specializes in excellent chardonnay, pinot noir, and sparkling wine. When he’s not actively making wine, Lieberman volunteers for the Willamette Valley Wineries Association’s (WVWA) Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion Taskforce and is on the WVWA’s Board of Directors.

Want more wine content? Check out our best wine awards and get to traveling in the name of wine with the best wine country regions for adventurers. Your summer just got a lot more fun.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
Rum 101: An enthusiast’s guide to understanding the different types of rum
After you read this rum guide, you'll know which are your favorites

Rum's importance in the grand history of American drinking stretches back to before the U.S. became a country. Rum was a necessity in the Colonial days, both as an item for trade and as one of the primary means of getting good and wasted. When the country was just getting on its feet, whiskey as we know it hadn't quite made an impact yet. That left, rum and hard cider and other imports.

Nowadays, rum is crafted in many parts of the globe, with producers employing traditional rum-making methods and a multitude of blending and aging techniques. Given its strong influence in the world, it’s important to know what rum is, how it’s made, as well as the different types of rum that are available out there.

Read more
Bourbon snifters: What they’re good for, which bourbon you should drink from them, and more
Why you should have bourbon snifters, and what to drink from them
Snifter

If you’re new to bourbon, you probably pour your favorite whiskey into a rocks glass with or without ice and sip it while you binge-watch the newest show du jour on Netflix and call it good. And while that’s all well and good, as we aren’t here to tell anyone how to imbibe whiskey, you might not be enjoying it as much as you could be. That’s to say that there are whiskey glasses designed to elevate and heighten your whiskey-tasting experience.

Don’t believe us? Just take your classic rocks glass, for example. It’s fairly uniform and unexciting. It’s designed for cocktails. That’s because when you drink an Old Fashioned. Sazerac, or Whiskey Sour the experience is all about the various flavors the ingredients (when combined with whiskey) create.

Read more
When you see “Cru” on a wine label, here’s what it means
Admittedly, it can be a little bit con"cru"sing
Wine bottles

Wine labels can be incredibly confusing. Many of them are in languages we don't speak, or organized in types we aren't familiar with. Often, the only loose guideline we have to understanding a wine's quality is the level of the shelf upon which it sits and the price tag posted underneath. We're all guilty of judging wines in this way, reaching for one on the second-highest shelf and thinking something along the lines of, "This one's probably pretty good." If you have a little more knowledge on the subject of wine, you might know that the word "cru" on a label is a good thing, even if you aren't sure why. We're here to explain this word and what it means in terms of a wine's quality.

The French word "cru" literally means "growth," and in wine, it references a superior growing site or vineyard. This practice was put into place in France hundreds of years ago, and is still used today. Wines with a "cru" classification are ranked according to their soil, altitude, climate, growing practices, and many other factors that make them superior.

Read more