By Sofia Perez
[Published by Food Arts, May 2008]
Pamplona, Spain— “My grandmother owned a winery in Málaga, but wasn’t allowed to go into the bodega because in those days, it was said that women had a different body temperature, and that it would affect the wine,” said Pilar García-Granero, president of the regulatory council for Denominaciónes de Origen wines from Navarra. With this anecdote, García-Granero kicked of a unique tasting of 10 very different wines produced by women all over the Iberian Peninsula, underscoring how much has changed here in just two generations. “When people say that a particular wine is for women,” she later added, “and they’re talking about something insipid that is very light, with lots of sugar, I always say, ‘Yes, it’s a wine for women who don’t like wine.'”
The tasting was the culmination of a three-day awards extravaganza to honor women in the field of gastronomy. The second annual Premios Internacionales Eva (as in Eve, of Biblical renown), held here from September 26 to 28, was organized by AMEDNA, an association of Navarran women business leaders, and sponsored by the regional government.
This year’s recipients, who received their prizes at a formal gala, included chef Anne-Sophie Pic of Maison Pic in Valence, the first French woman in over 50 years to be awarded three Michelin stars and the only French female currently in this exclusive club; British wine expert and author of The Oxford Companion to Wine Jancis Robinson (who was unable to attend the ceremony); and Gaia Gaja of Gaja Winery, the young Piedmontese scion of the legendary Italian wine dynasty known for its impressive Barbaresco and Brunellos, one of which was served at the tasting. In the business category, María Nélida González-Concheiro Santos was honored for her work at the helm of Conservas de Pescados y Mariscos Ramón Peña, a Spanish company that sells some of the finest canned fish and shellfish products in the world
The lifetime achievement award, formally titled “A Gastronomic Life,” was bestowed upon Chelo Apalategui, a veteran of Spain’s hotel and restaurant industry—first working with her parents in the Navarran town of Irurzun and then alongside her late husband, Jesús Oyarbide, with whom she ran the famed Madrid eatery Zalacaín (which the family later sold), the first Spanish restaurant to garner three Michelin stars. Her sons now operate Príncipe de Viana, where she still helps out from time to time. The 79-year-old who, like so many women of her generation, spent most of her career toiling behind the scenes, appeared visibly moved by the recognition, telling the audience, “I carry you all in my heart.”