Sonia Oltean is a young graduate of USAMV Cluj, who was entrusted with the winemaking process of a small family winery, Valea Ascunsa, a boutique winery in Teaca, Bistrita county.
When did you realize that your personal destiny was connected to wine?
It seems to me that it was not necessarily a very well-defined moment, it was more about the attention paid to wine over a longer period of time. Somehow all the situations I ended up in kept pointing me towards the vineyard and the wine. The desire appeared when I started to read more about viticulture and winemaking. At the same time, it was also my stubbornness to prove to myself and others that women are very capable of working in this field.
What style of wine do you generally prefer?
I can say that I am in a period of continuous learning and trying. Each style of wine has its own charm. However, recently I notice an increasing interest in effervescent wines, obtained in all possible methods, followed by fresh and full-bodied white wines.
How do you choose different wines (brands or styles of wine) according to certain moments – seasonal, anniversaries, friendly chats, sophisticated dinners or everyday wines?
I believe that wine can be associated with any context in our lives. It is such a diverse element that can be aligned with even the most formal events. Somehow I am always guided in my decisions by the feelings and mood I have at that moment, that’s why it can be a similar event with wines from different styles.
What was the perfect, memorable pairing where everything involved – wine, food, people – fell into place?
After all, every meeting can be memorable in its own way. It is very difficult to choose a single moment. It is interesting to observe the reaction of people when they realize that they like the pairing made between a certain wine and the taste of the food involved in the tasting.
How much decision-making power do women have in the Romanian wine market?
I could say that the decision-making power of women in the wine market in Romania is constantly evolving, constantly growing. Now, thanks to social changes, we can talk about a female presence in all areas of the wine world, from women oenologists, researchers, to wineries managers and sommeliers.
There are countless examples of successful women who set goals, fulfill tasks and make essential decisions for the development and evolution of the business.
What do women know about wine that men don’t (yet)?
It seems to me that at the moment of a decision we weigh things differently and make decisions in a different way. It seems to me that we bring a dose of femininity to the wine. For example, a woman winemaker may feel differently about what that wine conveys and wants it to be interpreted in a certain way. Also, at the time of a tasting, the wine presented by a woman is somehow "dressed" differently. Even if the wine is, say, a red wine, mature, robust and with a high amount of tannins, a woman gives it a touch of feminine elegance.
In March, Wines of Romania set out to honor the role of women in the world of Romanian wine. We are therefore preparing a series of materials – interviews, articles and social media posts – to draw the public’s attention to the role of women in oenology. Come back for more portraits, until then you can read below about: