“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





18 November 2015


Inaugural Australian Women In Wine Winemaker Of The Year, Rose Kentish of Ulithorne McLaren Vale/Middleton  with her daughter Lili at last night's awards announcement at Oliver's Taranga vineyards and winery in McLaren Vale ... A former Bushing Queen (best red in McLaren Vale), Rose has four kids and still manages to make exemplary wine in both Australia and Corsica every vintage ... all photos Philip White

Wine women shake some action:
this is no mere movement, but a 
war against "that's just so shit."

The Fabulous Ladies' Wine Society last night announced their winners in the inaugural Australian Women in Wine Awards.

While the four awards were sponsored sensibly by Wine Ark, Wine Australia, Cellarhand and Vinimofo, the budget for this brave initial move was obviously tight. Rather than attempt to meet in one spot, the nation-wide participants chose instead to meet in their home regions and share the announcements on a video link. 

DRINKSTER attended the South Australian announcements and celebration at Oliver's Taranga in McLaren Vale.

Corrina Wright welcomes her guests with a story of typical Ocker winey blokeness that pushed her into some serious action 

"These awards are really important to me for a number of reasons and they're really important just not to me but to everyone here," said Olivers Taranga CEO and winemaker Corrina Wright.

"The numbers of women in the wine industry are dropping, and in the twenty years that I've been in the industry they've almost halved. And I just don't feel really good about that. Sitting back and wishing for it to change has simply not been working.

"Hopefully these awards will be one small step - I'm not saying it's the be-all and end-all - towards celebrating the women that we have in the industry and creating mentors for the new women coming into the wine game," Corrina continued. "I think we have some university students here today as well as business owners as well as industry body chairs so we've covered the whole gamut and it's really important that we're all here in the one space together."

"Research has proven time and time again that the more diversity that you have in the wine business, or in any business, you get better economic results. And who doesn't want more dollars in the bank?

"We're hoping that through these awards we can show businesses best practice in their efforts to strive for diversity and help us all to follow in their footsteps. Women really do need to know that they can rely on others in their network when things get tough or you feel like you've been beating your head against a brick wall."

Beach Road (McLaren Vale) winemaker Briony Hoare on the screen, with Briony Oliver, cellar door manager and marketer at Oliver's Taranga (est 1841). Hoare was a finalist who narrowly missed the gong, but whose story of ungentlemanly treatment by a former employer is fairly typical of the Australian wine industry

"This year I was judging at the Royal Perth Wine Show," Corrina Wright continued. "The judges dinner was held at a male-only club and I had special permission to attend on the night. You know what? That's just so shit. It just didn't sit right with me. And I was able to lean on others in my network, like the other girls who created these awards with me, and I was able to be brave enough to say that's actually not right and I boycotted the dinner. 

"But it's actually really hard for women. It's really hard for the other women judging to do the same, because they're really afraid that they'd never be asked to judge again if they cause a fuss. And you know it was a real emotional experience. It's stupid. And I just want women to know there are networks out there.

"We're also hoping to inspire some male champions of change through these awards. We really need some help from those who are in positions of power. Brian Walsh is here, head of Wine Australia and we've met with him and pestered him to bits."

AWIWA inaugural Winemaker Of The Year Rose Kentish at home at The Mill at Middleton, where the Southern Fleurieu Peninsula pokes out into the Great Southern Ocean near Kangaroo Island. This is where the Ulithorne tasting room also resides.

The judging panel for the awards included all the members of the Australian Women In Wine Awards Board: Corrina Wright, Stargazer Wines owner and winemaker Samantha Connew, wine writer Jeni Port, wine marketer Toni Carlino, Maygar’s Hill owner and viticulturist Jenny Houghton, as well as AWIWA Chair and The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society founder Jane Thomson.

While McLaren Vale did extremely well with so many finalists, and then two winners in this first national contest, Tasmania scored with Rebecca Duffy of Holm Oak Vineyards winning Owner/Operator Of The Year, and Margaret River's Dianne Laurance of Laurance Wines winning the Workplace Champion Of Change award.

DRINKSTER asked Briony Hoare what she meant by having had a 'tough year'. With her freelance viticulturer husband Tony, she's been growing their family business, Beach Road wines, while making excellent stuff for a much bigger company.

"Well yeah," she said. "I was employed by a fairly large wine company which I don't think it's appropriate to name. I worked for them for three years. Recently I told them I was pregnant. And basically the relationship changed from that day on.

"As I went on parental leave they told me that didn't really need me as a winemaker, they needed me as a sales person ... I was employed as a winemaker. My contract was for a winemaker.

"I think that the people in charge couldn't see that a woman can have children and make wine at the same time. This was my fourth child, but I'd never experienced that sort of reaction before. But it's a great opportunity now, you know, Beach Road is growing. I've stepped out of there and Beach Road's just going leaps and bounds."

"At work," Briony continued, "I say to all of my staff that family comes first. No matter what, family is first. And I think that's really important. Happy workers is very important. And that's my current position. All of my workers have to be happy. If my workers love their work, then the business is going to succeed. I won't be applying for another job like that. I'll be putting my heart and soul into Beach Road. That's really important."

The biggest local star, Sol, put on a special display when Dr Irina Santiago Brown of Inkwell Wines took her viticulture award from Brian Walsh, chair of Wine Australia

When DRINKSTER asked her about being the first AWIWA Viticulturer Of The Year, Dr Irina Santiago Brown, designer of the latest version of the Sustainable AustralianWinegrowing program, said "I thought it was just fun in the beginning ... but then as I understood it a little bit more I thought it was important. I wanted to be part of it. And then I realised it was important for McLaren Vale as well. And for me personally? Well, because of everything that's happened with Sustainable Winemaking Australia, it's much more than me or whatever ... without the people that we have here I wouldn't have the support that I've had, like from the viticulturists and the growers ... that's what this award means to me. It's beyond."

Irina got her special wedding socks out for the night, but being a proper working Doctor of viticulture, she's had to move up to a new pair of boots in that two years of hard yakka ... the RMs below those impeccably pressed dungarees belong to Brian Walsh ... I reckon he's had the same combo since I met him over the river at Glenloth nearly forty years ago

Dr Irina Santiago Brown, Briony Hoare and Rose Kentish ... photo by Milton Wordley

Both these photos by Milton Wordley ... Milton runs a cool wine blog, Ten Questions ... like the DRINKSTER (seen hard at work below), Milton finds it infuriating to get home from wine industry gigs to look at his photos, only to be reminded of how few women there are in this testosterone-riddled business! Besides, men are boring. And they smell funny.

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