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Wine

Women in Wine: Celebrating International Women’s Day 2018

Join us as we celebrate International Women’s Day with some of Australia’s top female winemakers.

It takes a lot hard work and skill to make it to the top ranks of Australian winemaking but that’s exactly what Janice McDonald, Liz Jackson, Louise Rose, Marnie Roberts, Nina Stocker and Callie Jemmeson have done. In what is a traditionally male dominated industry, these super-talented ladies, and many others, have shown they have the goods to make and market world-class wine.

Marnie Roberts and Carrisa Major – Chief Winemaker and General Manager, Claymore Wines

The formidable duo of Claymore Wines’ chief winemaker Marnie Roberts and general manager Carrisa Major, make Australian wine rock.

Under their leadership, Claymore Wines produces outstanding Clare Valley wines that are playfully named after popular song titles including Purple Rain Sauvignon Blanc, Joshua Tree Riesling, Skinny Love Summer White Viognier Whole Lotta Love Rosé, Dark Side of the Moon Shiraz, and Bittersweet Symphony Cabernet Sauvignon.

Carissa began her career working for Clare Valley industry leaders including Tim Knappstein and Andrew Hardy after taking a gap year. “I really got sucked in by wine and found this amazing industry that brings people together while opening up the world,” she says.

Marnie says her passion for wine and the craft of winemaking goes back to her childhood. “Growing up on a block in Mildura that went from citrus to dried fruit to wine grapes, I have always had an appreciation for the fruit. The love of wine was the next step,” she explains.

“I remember one night, when I was around 19 or 20, going to a friend’s house who was studying to be a winemaker and he opened a 1994 Lindeman’s Pyrus. A wine from Coonawarra that is a Cabernet Sauvignon /Merlot and Malbec blend. IT WAS MASSIVE and I thought wow, I need to try more wines. It really blew my socks off as I hadn’t tried anything as big and succulent as that before.”

She says she loves the winemaking process and the chance to follow it the whole way through. “From the vineyard basics of pruning and harvesting to ferment to batching to oak to tank to bottle to mouth….it’s an amazing journey that I get to guide these babies through.”

Further reading: Meet Carissa Major and Marnie Roberts of Claymore Wines

Nina Stocker and Callie Jemmeson – Chief and Assistant Winemakers, In Dreams

It’s a case of double girl power at In Dreams, where Nina Stocker and Callie Jemmeson have teamed up to create superb Yarra Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Born and raised in a town on the border of the Alsace wine region in Switzerland, chief winemaker Nina says it was her family’s involvement in a local village vineyard that inspired her career as a winemaker.

She moved to Australia and graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Arts degree at Monash University, which she followed it up with a post-graduate degree in Winemaking at the University of Adelaide.

Nina says during her first vintage she worked as a cellar hand doing jobs like digging grape skins out of drains. “I loved it, and realized winemaking was what I wanted to do!”

The other half of the team, assistant winemaker, Callie Jemmeson, grew up with wine in her blood. She says her passion for wine was sparked at a young age during family holidays to Chianti in Italy, and tastings at Louis Roederer in France.

She qualified and worked a chef, before she was lured back to the world of wine studying winemaking at Charles Sturt University and working for De Bortoli in the Yarra Valley, Littorai Wines in California, and Fattoria Zerbina in Romagna.

Nina and Callies also make wine for their own range of wines under their Wine Unplugged brand.

Janice McDonald – Chief Winemaker, Burch Family Wines

Burch Family Wines’ chief winemaker, Janice McDonald, not only crafts exceptional wines, she also brews beer for the Margaret River Ale Company, in her spare time.

Growing up the Central West NSW township of West Wyalong, Janice says she developed an interest in wine while studying science at Sydney’s Macquarie University. The interest turned to a passion and she completed a winemaking degree at Charles Sturt University.

Her career includes head brewing positions at Matilda Bay and Little Creatures, winemaking roles at Vasse Felix, Brown Brothers and Devil’s Lair; and founding Stella Bella, where she was chief winemaker for 10 years.

As the Chief Winemaker at Burch Family Wines Janice is responsible for all winemaking of the Howard Park, Marchand & Burch, Jete Methode Traditionelle and Madfish brands.

Liz Silkman – Chief Winemaker, First Creek Wines and Silkman Wines

With a long list of accolades and a truck load of Trophy and Gold medal-winning wines to her name, Liz Silkman (nee Jackson) is Australia’s undisputed queen of Chardonnay.

As chief winemaker at the Hunter Valley’s First Creek, she’s responsible for making not only their wines, but also the wines of more than two dozen Hunter labels made under contract.

Liz and her husband Shaun Silkman, who is winemaker too, have their own label, Silkman Wines, with their first vintage released in 2013. Since then, they’ve won countless awards for their Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Pinot.

Add to the mix, time spent as a judge on the Australian wine show circuit and being a mum to two young daughters and you have one very busy lady.

Louisa Rose – Chief Winemaker, Yalumba

A leader within Australia’s wine industry, Louisa Rose is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most experienced and talented winemakers.

Louisa’s career with Yalumba spans over 25 years with her passion for Viognier and her developmental work of the varietal making her name synonymous with Viognier across the world.

She has a string of accolades to her name including the 2014The Age Australia’s Best Winemaker, the 2008 Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year, and in 2004 the International Wine & Spirit Competition named her the winner of the Women in Wine award.

Chief winemaker at Yalumba since 2006, Louisa is also acknowledged as one of the country's top Riesling makers, crafting Yalumba’s Pewsey Vale Riesling for 20 years.

Amongst her other hats, she is a Director of the Australian Wine Research Institute, an active member of wine industry councils and advisory boards, and a wine show judge.

Further Reading: Louisa Rose talks Viognier in our variety guide

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Meet Flying Fish Cove’s senior winemaker, Simon Ding
The  Flying Fish Chardonnay 2014  is our Wine of the Month for March. What makes this such a special wine? Chardonnay   is a  Margaret River  star, famous for being rich and powerful. This plush drop fits the bill and with its layers of peachy fruit supported by oak and zesty acidity, it's a classic example of why the variety is a natural match to rich seafood. When you work in a stunning seaside location like Margaret River, nobody can blame Simon Ding for slipping out of the winery for the occasional quick swim. Your Gold medal-winning Flying Fish Chardonnay 2014 is our Wine of the Month for March. What makes this such a special wine? Over time we have seen the Margaret River region produce many high-quality Chardonnay wines. The dedication of the people involved from the grower to the winemaking team at  Flying Fish Cove  has allowed us to craft a pure and fine expression of excellent modern Chardonnay. I think there is a little bit of love in each and every bottle of Flying Fish Cove Chardonnay, that we hope you can taste. In recent years, there’s been a switch from traditional big, buttery, oaky Chardonnay to the crisper, modern styles. What are the best attributes of both? Big, buttery, oaky Chardonnay is like a blast from the past and a look at where we have come from. Sometimes, it is good to look at where you have been to know that you don’t want to go back. Fine, delicate and crisp Chardonnay styles are favourable now. The nature of these styles seems to appeal to a broader range of maturing palates amongst the drinking public. I think it is the lightly oaked and delicately balanced nature and more often than not, the lighter alcohol content of these styles that is appealing to the modern wine drinker. We’ve matched your 2014 Chardonnay with barbequed WA marron withgarlic and herb butter – what’s your suggestion for a great food match? It’s also absolutely delicious paired with a butterflied and barbequed free range chicken, with a garlic, lemon rind and thyme rub, served with a side of seasonal roasted vegetables. How is vintage 2017 going for Flying Fish Cove and Margaret River? So far, the vintage is looking great, which we hope will continue given the late start and cool ripening conditions we have had this season. When did you fall in love with wine? I fell in love with wine whilst travelling throughout Europe, South America, the Middle East and Asia in the 1990s. It’s a tough question, but do you have a favourite wine or varietal? I can’t seem to go past Chardonnay and  Cabernet Sauvignon , however  Riesling   and some of the new Spanish varietals are interesting as well. What is your favourite wine memory? I don’t have any one specific wine memory that stands out. I’d have to say that the industry people I have met along my wine journey have been a great memory to me and a few memorable bottles have been shared with them along the way. How do you spend your time when you’re not making wine? There’s always plenty do around the winery, but the best way to spend time out is with my family exploring Margaret River and its beautiful surrounds.
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Under pressure - Wine VS Mine
Words by Max Allen on 21 Dec 2016
Winemaker Andrew Margan is standing on a rock on a ridge overlooking his vineyard at Broke, in NSW’s Hunter Valley . The landscape is idyllic: vine rows plunge down the hillside; Wollombi Brook curls through the middle distance; tree-covered ranges rise up steeply behind. He’s talking about how different this country could have looked had energy company AGL got its way. “If CSG (coal seam gas) mining had gone ahead here as AGL were planning,” says Margan, “there could have been 300 wells sunk between here and Pokolbin.” Just five years ago it seemed that CSG was a foregone conclusion in the Hunter wine region. A couple of exploratory wells had already been sunk, not far from Margan’s vineyard at Broke, and AGL were attempting to ingratiate themselves with the local winemakers - buying vineyards, sponsoring a local winemaking scholorship, joining the wine industry association. But the local winemakers were having none of it. 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And I’m still a good shot.” Eventually, the vignerons’ well-organised protest campaigns - including a high-profile march on the NSW Parliament in 2012 - helped encourage the state government to declare the viticultural and equine industries in the Hunter off-limits to CSG mining: boundaries were drawn around these two newly-declared Critical Industry Clusters that prevented any further resource exploration. “We won,” says Andrew Margan. “But it was a hell of a fight.” “The CSG battle almost destroyed us,” admits Andrew’s wife Lisa Margan. “Having to take on such a big issue like that fractures the community, it pulls resources out of the community, it exhausts the community.” ----- The Hunter isn’t the only wine region to have tussled with unconventional gas mining in the last few years. Just before Christmas 2013, resource company Beach Energy sank its first exploratory shale gas well just south of Penola, the main town in the famous wine region of Coonawarra , in South Australia’s Limestone Coast. I visited the region during vintage 2014, a couple of months later, and witnessed that first rig being moved to a second exploratory site west of the main vineyard area. It’s only when you see one of these installations up close - or as close as security will allow - that you get a feel for how much the landscape is affected and what impact dozens or hundreds of such wells would have on the nature of a region: temporary roads carved through paddocks, the four-storey rig itself, the holding ponds dug into the earth to retain contaminated water, lights and sound running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “I just can’t envisage co-existence with a gas well like that next to my cellar door,” said Dennis Vice of Highbank, one of Coonawarra’s leading wineries as we watched another truck loaded with drilling equipment roar by. “How can anyone argue that industrialized gas extraction can sit comfortably alongside wine - a brand that’s based on clean green production? Even if they do put a well in and I’m forced to sell, my vineyard would be worthless because of that rig. 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Celebrating Christmas with Brown Brothers
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Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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