Women in Wine: Gwyn Olsen
Gwyn Olsen is the head winemaker of Pepper Tree Wines in the famed Hunter Valley wine region in NSW. In light of International Women's Day, we take a look at prominent women working in the wine industry and find out how Gwyn how crafted an inspiring career creating diverse and high-quality wines.
What inspired you to become a winemaker?
“I headed on a course of winemaking after completing my Bachelor of Science in biochemistry. I found the science aspect of winemaking fascinating so pursued a post graduate qualification in oenology at the University of Adelaide. Following that, my first vintage was at a winery in the south of France and I was hooked! I love the cut and thrust of vintage, the thinking on your feet and the physical nature of the work alongside the scientific reasons.”
What are some of the most memorable achievements from your career so far?
“I was awarded AWRI AWAC dux the year I completed the course, and this helped solidify my belief in my tasting ability and increase my knowledge to critically evaluate wine.
I have also had the pleasure of winning a number of trophies for wines I have made, which is a wonderful feeling. Whilst it is only a moment where that particular wine looks exactly like that, it’s a wonderful feeling to know that all of the hard work and effort that went into making the wine has paid off at the highest level with peer recognition.”
What qualities do you think it takes to succeed in a traditionally male-dominated industry?
“Hard work and determination. And remembering that the only difference between being assertive and being aggressive is your gender.”
What advice would you give to young women just starting out or considering a career in winemaking?
“Work hard and find some good mentors (both male and female) who can help guide you through. There is a lot of good people and good work in the industry so don’t settle for anything that doesn’t feel right.”
What is your favourite wine to make, and your go-to drop?
“I have a deep love of both Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. They are such fun to make with so many different manipulation points. They are both made exceptionally well in Australia, so it is easy to find great wines from great regions here to enjoy at home or out at the restaurants.”