Wine lovers in Sydney were introduced to them at Aussie Wine Month celebrations in April. Headlining the Women in Wine event at Circular Quay were four of Australia’s most recognised female winemakers: Katherine Brown from Brown Brothers, Janice McDonald of Burch Family Wines, Corrina Wright of Oliver’s Taranga and Rebecca Willson of Bremerton.
Katherine Brown has always had a passion for wine. Following her Degree in Entrepreneurship from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), Katherine immersed herself in the world of marketing and brand management, beginning her working life in the coffee industry before getting her start in the wine industry, selling wine in the corporate market.
Katherine joined Brown Brothers in time for the 2009 vintage where she gained experience as a cellar hand before traveling to Bordeaux and Champagne later in the same year. Katherine returned to the family business in January 2010 where she gained experience in the Melbourne-based roles of area manager and brand ambassador. From this role Katherine stepped in the position of Public Relations Manager, looking after both domestic and export markets.
In 2012 Katherine, was accepted as one of 15 candidates into the Australian Wine Industry Future Leaders program, a 12 month long course which worked on industry issues and solution processes.
Janice McDonald started as Senior Winemaker for Burch Family Wines in January 2011 overseeing both the Margaret River and Denmark wineries and teams.
Janice has worked in the industry for over 25 years in brewing and winemaking, most recently at Deep Woods, and Stella Bella, where she was awarded the accolade of “Winemaker of the Year” in the Big Red Wine Book, 2010 – 2011 by Campbell Mattinson and Gary Walsh.
“I am both excited and honoured to be joining Burch Family Wines,” said Janice. “I regard Burch Family Wines as one of Australia’s most successful premium wine companies and look forward to making a significant contribution to what is already a passionate, dynamic and quality focused winery.”
Corrina Wright has wine – and 171 years of family grape growing – flowing through her veins. Described by WBM Magazine as a “legend in the making” and by James Halliday as being part of a “remarkable dynasty” she’s treading a slightly different path among the vines that her forefathers planted, in the Seaview sub-region of McLaren Vale. Corrina, with cousin Brioni Oliver, is the leading voice of the Oliver family’s sixth generation and the impetus behind their own wine label – Oliver’s Taranga.
After growing up among the family vineyards and enrolling in a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Oenology) in 1994 it was only fitting that she convince her Grandfather and Uncles to let her have some fruit from the vineyard. Working alongside legendary local Chapel Hill winemaker, Pam Dunsford – she created a small scale Shiraz – and the Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards label was born.
“I’m just so proud to be part of the 6th generation of Oliver’s in our special patch of McLaren Vale,” said Corrina. “I hope that my ancestors are proud of the wines that Oliver’s Taranga produce. They and the present-day Oliver’s inspire me almost every day to express the wonderful fruit that our vineyard produces.”
Rebekah Richardson joined Jacob’s Creek in 2006 as Group White & Sparkling Winemaker after 7 years in California working for Gallo and Korbel. Prior to this she had worked for various wineries around Australia including Wirra Wirra, Domaine Chandon and Southcorp.
Rebekah has completed both an MBA and a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing. She has also participated in the 2010 Wine Federation of Australia Future Leaders program and is involved at industry level as a participant in the Wine Innovation Cluster leadership group and the Wine 2030 leadership group.
Cumulus Estate Wines Senior Winemaker Debbie Lauritz is a passionate, cool-climate specialist. Having made wine in the cool regions of Alsace in France, Marlborough in New Zealand and Niagara in Canada, Debbie is now crafting fine wines in Orange, NSW where she is revelling in the combination of high-altitude and cool-climate grape growing.
“An absolute belief in cool-climate viticulture and winemaking brought me to Orange,” said Debbie. “With the altitude and resulting intense UV sunlight I can produce a very different style of wine to that from typically warmer wine regions in Australia. And it’s a style that I love; generosity of fruit, touches of spice and an elegant, well-balanced structure.”
A 2002 Oenology graduate from the University of Adelaide, Debbie worked alongside twice ‘international winemaker of the year’ Phillip Shaw at Cumulus, before taking over the reins in late 2008.
Mary Retallack was born in Berri in the Riverland and grew up in Renmark. The past 15 years has seen her gain extensive viticultural practical experience both within Australia and abroad. Mary recently started her own viticultural consulting business, Retallack Viticulture, and is a non-executive director of the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation.
In 2012 Mary won the prestigious Australian Rural Women’s Award. Mary was unanimously selected for her project to develop Women in Wine website as a central meeting place and information hub for women to collaborate, share their ideas, mentor and support each other.
Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation managing director Craig Burns said Mary’s award-winning website had the potential to revolutionise the Australian wine industry and change the way women network in the bush.