International Women’s Day: An interview with women leading Australian wine.

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International Women's Day | Women in Wine
📷 International Women's Day | Women in Wine

Imagine a gender-equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.

For any new movement to be ignited, it takes someone brave to ripple the water and voice out passion. We speak to three aspiring women in wine.

Teresa Heuzenroeder – Senior Petaluma and Croser Winemaker. Leading the winemaking and winery management for the Petaluma & Croser brands Teresa brings with her an undeniable passion for meticulous winemaking. After more than twenty years of perfecting her craft, her approach to winemaking remains unchanged; to create wines with elegance, finesse and balance that convey their sense of place.

Her wine journey began in the Barossa in 1994 where she was employed by the Hill Smith family at Yalumba as a Microbiologist.

In 1996, a chance tasting with the winemaking team sparked her interest in the art and science of winemaking and she was hooked. During her time, Teresa was intimately involved with a number of Yalumba and Hill-Smith Family Vineyards portfolios including Heggies (Eden Valley); Jansz (Tasmania) and Redbank (King Valley).

It was during her time at Redbank that Teresa was able to round out her white and sparkling winemaking expertise working with red and alternative varieties. With her scientific background and constant quest for excellence, Teresa has participated in many research projects and trials including extensive clonal work. These assignments, coupled with her diverse winemaking experience, have provided Teresa with a holistic, hands-on approach to winemaking and attention to detail for every element of the winemaking process.

What does the 2022 International Women’s Day slogan, #breakthebias mean for you in your work life?

I’m a big believer in the adage ‘be the change you want to happen’. If you want things to change, you need to be part of making it happen and doing, so it helps pave the way for others to follow.

Choosing not to let anything stop me from achieving my goals and ambitions has been my approach to ‘breaking the bias’ throughout my career. By continuing to push through and strive for what we want to achieve, we will make a difference.

Anjanette Murfet – Chief People & Communications Office, Accolade Wines. Working at one of the world’s leading wine companies with over 1,600 dedicated employees in Australia, the UK, Europe, Asia, South Africa, New Zealand and North and South America. Anjanette is responsible for building a global internal and external communications strategy that supports the Company’s ambitious growth agenda and nurtures the organisation to become a best in class, high performance, employer of choice.

Accolade Wines has some of the most highly awarded winemakers at its helm who have excelled in their field for many decades. Worldly experience, attention to detail, passion and commitment combine to ensure their wines – from everyday drinking to the very best of what they have to offer.

How can we encourage more women to pursue entrepreneurship or senior leadership roles in their careers?

“As women, we can be reluctant to take opportunities that come our way. We can feel like we’re not ready, not good enough, or it’s not the right time. I believe there is never the perfect time!

Earlier in my career, I was offered a new role in Ghana, West Africa. I am from a small town, I was happy in my job in Australia, and I had a five-year-old child – there were so many reasons not to take it! Even though it challenged me personally and professionally, there is never a moment that I regret making that decision – for myself and my family.

Have the confidence to back yourself, take the leap. What’s the worst that could happen?!”

Ella Hoban – Tintara Winemaker. White and Sparkling Winemaker at Tintara, she is excited by stand out expressions of all different styles and varietals.

Ella started winemaking straight out of a gap year post Year 12 and says she feels like one of the lucky ones who loved their first choice of degree and had no need to explore other industries. Since graduating, Hoban gained invaluable experience working vintages in California, Spain, Langhorne Creek and Adelaide Hills and has become an active member in the wine community though her contributions on the Adelaide Hills Wine Show Committee and participation in various tasting groups.

With her determination and drive, Ella soon found herself to be the newest member of the team at Tintara. Here she will be able to showcase her experience beyond her years working on the white and sparkling portfolios for Hardys, House of Arras, Yarra Burn, Leasingham and Tintara – the perfect role for Ella who shows no bias towards a certain varietal.

Being new to the Tintara family means a ‘typical day’ isn’t something Ella can yet describe, but she is looking forward to getting stuck into vintage and learning about new fruit and wines. One of the things she loves most about being a winemaker is the energy of harvest and the necessity to form a team of passionate people and work together to create great wines.

She enjoys being able to sit back and share what the team has produced together and see how the wines contribute to the social rituals of others.

What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?

“I think the most important advice I have been given is to surround yourself with people who are passionate and willing to share their knowledge. I have had a truly lucky career so far to work with brilliant winemakers who have all been willing to teach and share their love of wine.

A friend of mine from university and fellow young gun, Alyson Tannenbaum, and I started a tasting group a couple of years ago for female winemakers in our region called Wine Biddies. We build the tastings on sharing topics which we know a little more about through our vintage experiences at home and abroad. The idea is that we want to bring women together to share their knowledge and build networks for the younger members who are recent grads and support them through their early career.

It’s good to build a supportive community for up and coming winemakers.”

Wine recommendation from winemakers

Chardonnay is one of my favourite varieties and the Piccadilly Valley is not only a great place to grow Chardonnay, but it is also one of the most beautiful vineyard locations in South Australia, Whenever I think of Chardonnay food pairings my first thought is always salmon. One of my favourite recipes to match with Chardonnay is a simple smoked salmon fettuccine with crème fraiche, citrus zest and capers. Delicious and super quick to make – so I can spend time enjoying the wine rather than slaving away in the kitchen. Recommend Petaluma Yellow Label ChardonnayTeresa Heuzenroeder, Senior Petaluma Winemaker.

A highlight within the Yarra Burn range for me is the Yarra Burn Vintage. It has 24 months lees age so we really see the fruit from classic champagne varietals and yeast-derived development in this wine. For me, wine is a cultural event – it’s for sharing with friends and family and creating memories. I love that we make a wine that is cool climate and bottle-fermented that is still accessible to consumers to be part of their everyday celebrations. Recommend Yarra Burn VintageElla Hoban, Sparkling Winemaker

This is my favourite wine from the MudHouse collection. It has a powerful palate that shows seamless integration, with vibrant fruit and supple tannins. Treated with a light hand, this pinot is focussed yet elegant. The oak selection has come from our favourite coopers – each barrique is almost good enough to bottle on its own! The Claim431 is a stunning example of Central Otago wine, that will continue to give in many years to come. Best served with your favourite Roast veggies, grass-fed beef, great friends and plenty of laughter. Recommend 2020 MudHouse Claim 431 Central Otago Pinot Noir – Krystal Palmer, MudHouse Winemaker