Celebrating Women in Wine

Written by
Vintage Cellars
March 3, 2019
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2019 could be the year for women in the wine industry after several wins and glass ceiling-shattering moments in 2018.

Celebrating Women in Wine

As with most ground-breaking movements, the success of women in the wine industry all started with one trail blazer. In this case, with a degree in Agricultural Science in 1972 before becoming the first female student at Roseworthy Agricultural College in Adelaide. She worked at Wynns Coonawarra winery for 12 years, studied in Champagne and was the first woman to be employed by Krug at vintage in Champagne.

Pam's legacy has been carried forward by the likes of Janice McDonald of Burch Family Wines, who took homes GT Wine's Winemaker of the Year Award in 2018, and Helen Masters of Ata Rangi, who was recently named GT Wine's NZ Winemaker of the year in 2019. But it doesn't stop there, we're here to honour some of the finest females currently making waves in the industry.

Vanya Cullen, Cullen Wines

Vanya Cullen is notable for a number of reasons. For one, since being appointed Chief Winemaker of her family’s winery in 1989, she transformed the business from one of Margaret River’s best wineries to one of Australia’s premium boutique wineries. She has also been a pioneer in the local industry through forging a certified biodynamic, carbon neutral and naturally-powered estate.

Due to her work with Cullen Wines, Vanya was awarded The Wine Magazine Winemaker of the year in 2000 (the first Western Australian and the first female recipient of the award). In 2011, she was nominated for the Green Personality of the Year Award, thanks to her commitment to her environmentally-friendly approach to winemaking, and in 2015 was inducted into the Australian Business Women’s Hall of Fame.

Katherine Brown, Brown Brothers

Brown Brothers in North-East Victoria’s Milawa is a much-loved household name in Australia and has been a staple for generations of wine drinkers. For many, Brown Brothers produced the first wine they bought and was the first winery they visited.

Katherine Brown is a fourth-generation member of the family and has been involved in almost every facet of the business, from public relations manager to brand ambassador and now winemaker. Working alongside her sister, Caroline, who is now public relations manager, Katherine is at the coalface of innovation – an area Brown Brothers takes very seriously – in the creation of new grape varieties, such as cienna and mystique, as well as alternative varieties from the Mediterranean that will counter some of the effects of a changing climate.

Natalie Fryar, Kreglinger

Natalie Fryar’s love of winemaking had an unconventional beginning. Growing up in the South Australian wine town of Reynella, Natalie first became fascinated with the industry when she was a child, staying for a weekend at a friend’s house. Her friend’s father was a winemaker and she made her decision then and there. Years later, she would help change the landscape of Australian sparkling wine.

Inspired by champagne, Natalie sought to find a similar climate and moved to Tasmania in 2001. There she was instrumental in turning Jansz Tasmania into the brand it Is today and cemented herself as one of the leading sparkling wine specialists in the country. Once again motivated by interesting climate, Natalie moved to Kreglinger in 2016. She favours the Pipers River region’s coolness and maritime influences, remaining a passionate advocate for Tasmanian wines (and gin – she likes to keep busy).

Louisa Rose, Yalumba

Louisa Rose worked the 1992 vintage as a cellar hand at Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family owned winemaker, in the Barossa, and returned to join the team in January 1993. Twenty five vintages later, Louisa has worked alongside many legends of Yalumba, being involved in almost every facet of viticulture, winemaking and management which led her to accept the role of chief winemaker, which she quietly stepped into in 2006.

Particular focuses for Louisa have been the developmental work with Viognier and other alternative varieties, sustainability and the use of natural (wild or feral) yeast and bacteria to make the wines.

Louisa has been awarded for her work: 1999 Barossa Winemaker of the Year; 2004 International Woman in Wine (London IWSC); 2008 Gourmet Traveller WINE Magazine ‘Winemaker of the Year’ by; 2008 Wolf Blass Award for contribution to the development and promotion of Riesling; 2013 Winemaker of the Year by the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology; and in August 2014 she was voted the best winemaker in Australia by 100 of her peers – winemakers, sommeliers and wine buyers from around the country.

Celebrate these inspiring women and many more and enjoy a wine from their range today.