I'd like to thank Imelda May for St. Brigid's day. It seems fitting that a kick-ass national treasure paved the way for a day in honour of Brigid, herself no shrinking violet. It's also the first Irish public holiday in honour of a woman. In fairness, the men - Patrick, Stephen, Jesus, and Santy are all very welcome - but good to see a start to the saintly gender balance being sorted.
What do you mean Santy isn't a saint?
According to some accounts, Brigid's father wanted to marry her off, as was the accepted fate of women in 5th-century Ireland, but she solidly refused. She convinced him instead to give her land to start a convent. He facetiously agreed to give her as much land as her cloak would cover, and when she threw it down, it covered many fields. It was the first monastery for women in Ireland, so while a religious order and feminism don't sound compatible today, in 470 AD, it was fairly radical.
While the first miracle Jesus was said to have performed was turning water into wine, Brigid chose beer for her miraculous transformation and is therefore known as the patron saint of brewers, among many other groups. Poets, dairy farmers, midwives, boatmen, scholars, healers, and mothers are all under her enchanted cloak.
Brigid is also a pre-Christian icon and is celebrated in the pagan festival Imbolc. Whether we choose the pagan goddess or the Christian saint, the symbolism of the festival to mark the reawakening of mother earth after the long winter sleep is a welcome spark of light in dreary February.
What a great time to celebrate the work of the many incredible women making wine around the world, thankfully too many to list at this stage! I am going to choose two wines that I believe channel the spirits of our female heroes.
Sketta is a wine full of attitude, as befits our Brigid. The name is a Sicilian word for a woman who chooses to be single, independent, and in control of her own destiny.
I'm choosing Malafemmana Pet-Nat from Umbria to toast Imelda. Meaning 'bad-ass woman' it seems appropriate for the woman who writes:
"One size doesn't fit
Like a glove that I'm not
But I am what I am and I'm good with that
…I am woman"
In honour of St. Brigid - the patron saint of brewing - we've put together a collection of wines showcasing some of our incredible female winemakers. Difficult to choose just six wines and their makers, but we're delighted with our choices and we know you'll like them too.