One of best-known winemakers in the\u00a0world, Long has been an icon of the vine\u00a0and inspiration to many for decades.\u00a0This pioneer in the California wine scene\u00a0was one of the first women to study\u00a0oenology and viticulture at University of\u00a0California, Davis, in the late 1960s.\r\n\r\nHer winemaking career started\u00a0at Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, where she worked for a\u00a0decade and rose through the ranks to become the winery\u2019s chief\u00a0enologist.\r\n\r\nIn 1979, Long was recruited as winemaker for Simi\u00a0Winery in Sonoma County. During her 18-year tenure, she became\u00a0president and CEO of the winery, which made her the first woman\u00a0to assume senior management of a California winery.\r\n\r\nIn 1997,\u00a0Long established Vilafont\u00e9 winery in South Africa, where she\u00a0focuses on high-quality Bordeaux-style red blends. She has also\u00a0consulted for numerous wineries worldwide, including in France\u00a0and Israel, and founded and was the first president of the nonprofit\u00a0American Vineyard Foundation (AVF).\r\n\r\nWhy did you want to become a winemaker?\r\n\r\nI decided to enroll in the UC Davis enology and viticulture studies\u00a0after my in-laws bought property on Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley, in\u00a0the mid-\u201960s and planted Chardonnay and Riesling.\r\n\r\nI was a science\u00a0graduate, a practicing dietitian and decided to put my science and\u00a0interest in food to a different direction.\r\n\u201cI continue to mentor young women in all fields...suggesting education, including travel, problem solving and encouraging belief and confidence in one\u2019s skills and abilities.\u201d \u2013Zelma Long\r\nWhat is your proudest achievement?\r\n\r\nI have two. Number one: hiring and mentoring and encouraging\u00a0young women. Many early women winemakers had worked for\u00a0me.\r\n\r\nDiane Kenworthy, who worked with me at Simi as viticulturist,\u00a0became the first woman president of the American Society for\u00a0Enology and Viticulture. Dawnine Dyer became the long-term\u00a0winemaker at Domaine Chandon. Genevieve Janssens became\u00a0the first [woman] winemaker of Opus One. And so on.\r\n\r\nI continue\u00a0to mentor young women in all fields, when the opportunity\u00a0presents itself, suggesting education, including travel, problem\u00a0solving and encouraging belief and confidence in one\u2019s skills\u00a0and abilities.\r\n\r\nSecond is Vilafont\u00e9. With my husband, Phil\u00a0Freese, we conceived of creating a wine of international\u00a0significance, starting with buying land in South Africa,\u00a0planting Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and\u00a0Malbec.\r\n\r\nWe acquired a local partner and 22 years on, our\u00a02016 Series C this year won the Bordeaux Trophy in the\u00a0Six Nations Wine challenge, an annual competition of\u00a0New World countries.\r\n\r\nThree partners, all stars in their\u00a0area of expertise: me, winemaking; Phil, winegrowing;\u00a0Mike Ratcliffe, wine sales and marketing. Very fun. I\u00a0recently read a quote that applies here: \u201cIf you want to go\u00a0fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhat was the most surprising experience or encounter you\u2019ve had as a female winemaker?\r\n\r\nThe most unexpected and wonderful experience in growing and making wine is to see clearly, through the wine, the impact of terroir, and to experience, through blending, the nuance of flavors and balance, where small volumes, one or two percent, can alter the aromas and palate significantly, in a way undetectable by current chemistry\u2014a tribute to our nose and palate, their perception and sensitivity and to the brain, which integrates it all.\r\n\r\nWhat is your advice to someone interested in entering the\u00a0wine business?\r\n\r\nIt helps if you are interested in agriculture, love nature and being\u00a0outdoors, are fascinated by this ancient liquid, are attracted to\u00a0the taste and nuances of wine, and want a complex life because\u00a0wine encompasses science, agriculture, soils, sensory perception.\r\n\r\nIt is international, it is historical, it is endlessly varied, it is social. In short, it is fascinating.