Winokur began her academic career with a focus on painting. During her sophomore year at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, she took a course with the ceramist Rudolph Staffel and began working in clay. Initially exposed to stoneware thrown on kick wheels, Winokur was influenced by British ceramist Bernard Leach and Japanese master Shoji Hamada, among others. It was after she spent a summer at Alfred University with her husband Robert Winokur, that the couple moved to Ashfield, Massachusetts, where they started Cape Street Pottery. They sold functional ceramic work from their studio until Robert received a teaching position at Tyler School of Art in 1966.