If I had to pick two words to describe South Australia’s women in wine they would be glamour and grit.
To work in an industry that aims to bring pleasure to people, to give them something to look forward to, to enjoy with friends, is a fabulous thing.
But, like so much in life, beneath the glossy surface lies an intense commitment to providing quality that can only be achieved through dedication and sacrifice.
Having recently worked together to bring their best white wines to the appreciative masses at the Strathalbyn Cup, Sidewood Wine’s Cassandra Inglis, K1’s Bec Hardy, Golding’s Lucy Golding, and Bird in Hand’s Erin McIntyre reflected on the different paths that led them to wine but the similarities that have kept them there.
Bec Hardy, 32, sales and marketing manager for Wines by Geoff Hardy, embodies the dynastic element to be found at many of South Australia’s wineries.
The daughter of well-known Adelaide Hills winemaker Geoff Hardy and great-great-great-granddaughter of industry pioneer Thomas Hardy, Bec is proud of the “important role (wine has played) in the fabric and history of our family”.
But with a viticultural science degree and experience in London and Sydney, she hasn’t relied on nepotism to make her mark.
“While I might have fleetingly considered something else all roads inevitably led to me studying viticulture and ultimately taking a role in my parents’ wine business,’’ she said.
“There are some wonderful and highly successful female winemakers, viticulturists and sales people in South Australia.
“We have some great females in our own business. We have a very talented South African winemaker who manages our office. We also have a superb export sales manager from China who completed her postgraduate wine business degree at Adelaide University.
“There is a wonderfully rich diversity to the Australian wine industry that goes well beyond gender lines.”
Along with general manager husband, Richard, Bec is a horseracing enthusiast, often attending meets in Hong Kong and the UK.
For them, wine and horses are a perfect blend of that glamour and grit.
“When the opportunity came for the Strathalbyn Cup we were delighted to be involved. There’s nothing like a day at the races. A chance to dress up and spend some fun times with friends over good food and wine.”
Cassandra Inglis, Sidewood Wines owner and vigneron, has been a part of the industry since she started studying wine at 18.
A qualified sommelier, at 22 she already owned a successful wine bar in Santorini and, after a stint working as a teacher in Hong Kong, she came to Australia and started Sidewood Wines with her husband, Owen, in 2007.
Like Bec, Cassandra is an avid racegoer and Sidewood also combines vineyards and stables — they have more than 70 horses on their property, including 52 racehorses.
“The industry is definitely very open to female sales and marketing staff, female owners and winemakers. I do not see barriers to entry in the wine industry that seem evident in other industries,’’ she said.
“(Women’s influence can be seen) in the profile of wines made — softer, more fruit driven, less tannic and extracted wines. It’s fun and we are making wines that we love with a no holds barred approach to quality.”
Lucy Golding, 38, took a more roundabout route to wine.
Starting out as an interior architect and designer, it was only after meeting husband, Darren, that a career in wine emerged.
After taking time out to raise their three daughters, Lucy is now the director and communications manager of Golding Wines.
“But in our small family business that means pretty much whatever needs doing, I’ll do it,’’ she said.
“When I first met Darren 18 years ago, our Western Branch vineyard was in the process of being planted and although I was working in another field my knowledge of the wine industry grew as I spent time helping out in the vineyard on the weekends. I had always enjoyed drinking wine and learning about what was in my glass but now I was seeing the other side of the equation and experiencing all the work that goes in to the growing the fruit in the first place.”
With the exception of Darren, Golding’s core staff are all women.
“I know great female winemakers, viticulturists, vineyard contractors, cellar door managers, marketing managers and I see many opportunities for our three daughters within the wine industry if that is something they want to pursue down the track, and that is a great thing.
“I think that women bring the same qualities to the wine industry that they bring to any industry, and that is balance and diversity. Our industry should reflect the society that we live in and we all have something unique and valuable to bring to the table regardless of our gender.
“I love the social nature of the wine industry and I love engaging with people over the cellar door bench or through social media and sharing our wines, our story, our little Adelaide Hills chapter as part of a much larger conversation that is the Australian wine industry.”
But despite appearances to the contrary, wine is not something you have to be born into, something that flows through your veins.
Erin McIntyre, 32, Bird in Hand’s head of marketing, PR and events, has worked in the industry for less than a year. Having spent 10 years in the beauty industry, she moved to Adelaide from Sydney early last year with a view to bring some of the same philosophies she applied to beauty to wine.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have found a job that for me carries the same passion as I found in luxury cosmetics. I was so focused on working in wine here that I didn’t really consider much else, and I couldn’t be happier,’’ she said.
“Wine is meant to be enjoyed by everyone so I think it’s essential to have input and perspective from both men and women, particularly from a marketing point of view.
“I think the best thing women bring is balance. Women have a unique and often empathetic point of view, which is crucial for success in any industry. Women are usually fairly active consumers themselves and so tend to understand how customers think and, hence, how we should be appealing to them. Our office is deliberately a very equal mix of men and women as we know it’s the best way forward and optimal platform for success.
“I love that we are creating a product that is designed purely for people’s enjoyment. And I love that we can be so closely involved in people’s celebrations. For me, its all about helping people create an experience, a moment, something special that they will never forget.”
Taken from: Adelaide Now