In Vino Libertas

A most unusual sommelier in North Africa

Samia Benali lives on wine. A Tunisian, a non-practicing Muslim, and a strong and determined woman, she is the only female winemaker in the country. Thanks to her,
Tunisian wine is more and more appreciated on the international market. And thanks to wine, she has won freedom and independence, and a prestigious post in a traditionally male-dominated sector. Since 2000, Samia is the winemaker of one of the major Tunisian wineries, which operates in joint-venture with an Italian company. After the fall of tourism revenues following the 2011 revolution, Tunisia’s wine industry has become one of the primary sectors of the national economy, with 30 million bottles produced every year, as well as a crucial source of foreign currency (30 percent of production is exported from France to Germany, to Scandinavia). Yet nowadays, with the Islamic party Ennahdha in power and the Muslim integralism spread by Salafist groups, this industry is facing the possibility of a serious threat. And, all of a sudden, Samia’s job has become a risky business.