The Journey Begins

After nearly a decade working in the US wine industry along with extensive travels and studies of European wine regions – and more than a few wine exams* – the idea of Iola Wines was born.

Through these experiences, I noticed that despite how women were kicking butt in so many professions, wine seemed different. No small wonder, really.  In Europe, for centuries vineyards were handed down from father to son, not daughter.  As wine spread to the new world this notion traveled with it, leaving women out of the picture for far too long.

I realized that I could, in some small way, do my part to change the wine-world status quo: I could champion women winemakers who are every bit as talented as their French and Italian brethren.

My focus today isn’t just on women winemakers. It’s on exceptional, expressive, vibrant wines. The women winegrowers I work with have consistently -and courageously- grown and made wines of depth and beauty despite being dismissed every step of the way.

Iola Wines feels like my life’s purpose; it would be an honor to have you alongside as together we bring these exciting wines to the forefront and celebrate the inspiring French and Italian women winemakers making them.

Marilee Bramhall
Iola Wines Founder

*I have completed with Highest Honors the examinations for French Wine Scholar and Italian Wine Scholar. I’ve also completed WSET L3 with Merit and am credentialed by the Wine Scholar Guild as an instructor for their French Wine Scholar program.  


Marilee Bramhall

hand holding a grape

Chrsitine Nadalie Clos La Boheme

Clos La Boheme - Haut-Mèdoc AOC Bordeaux

What “Natural” Means to Iola

“Natural wine” is a term that gets wobbly pretty quickly, so let’s get after it. For Iola, when we say a wine is “naturally made,” we mean it’s been produced using long-proven, time-honored practices with minimal intervention.

Typically, it means the grapes are grown according to organic or biodynamic principles, with or without the official certifications – which can be a prohibitively expensive process if you’re a small, non-corporate wine maker. Luckily, following these time-honored practices is more a reflection of each vigneronnes deeply held principles.

Iola takes this concept very seriously. Before we agree to import a wine, we do on-site visits with each vigneronne; we walk her vineyards and witness her production in order to be confident we share the same definition of what it means to make wine naturally. It’s an important step we don’t skip.

old photo tractor

Iola smooching her husband while working on their Dayton, WA Farm

Iola Wines is named in honor of Marilee’s grandmother, Iola Ryerson Bramhall, who grew up in the Depression and loved opera and ballet as much as she did a good party.
Like all the women in the Bramhall clan, Iola took a big bite out of life on a daily basis. Her spirit and championing of women and sisters, related or not, live on through Iola Wines today.
old time photo of man and children

Iola’s love of nature was encouraged by her jodhpur-loving Aunt Babe Ryerson

woman with cow

Iola on the family farm circa 1940s