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Wine Industry Celebrates Women Of Inspiration

By Tuesday 24 November 2020April 22nd, 2021No Comments

Cate Looney of the Brown Family Wine Group (BFWG) has been named Winemaker of the Year at the 2020 Australian Women in Wine Awards.

The winners were announced tonight via a live broadcast co-hosted by awards founder Jane Thomson and comedian Merrick Watts.

The online-only event was broadcast live from the Langton’s TV studios in Sydney to the Australian Women in Wine Facebook page, where it was watched by wine industry folk across the country, and around the world.

With no real-life affair possible due to Covid, it was left to ‘watch parties’ all over Australia to create a little bit of magic for finalists and winners on the night. During the broadcast, the hosts crossed to several gatherings taking place – including Tasmania, Margaret River, Canberra, the Barossa and North East Victoria, showing a sneak peek of how people were celebrating in each state.

A live stream broadcast is not new for the AWIWA, as the awards have been streamed live every year since its inception in 2015, even when a real-life awards ceremony took place. Broadcasting the awards forms part of an ongoing commitment by the AWIWA board to engage and involve the entire Australian wine community.

Jane Thomson said that while it had been a tough year for all, the calibre of the winners demonstrates an incredible breadth and depth of female talent in our industry.

“I’m so overjoyed that were able to keep the awards going this year, and that we could deliver an online event that brought the industry together in celebration,” she says.

“These awards continue to each year uncover even more amazing stories of achievement – and resilience – by women in the Australian wine industry. Congratulations to each and every one of them.”

It’s the only awards program for women in wine in the world.

WBM – Australia’s Wine Business Magazine is a Gold Partner.

The full list of award winners…


Winemaker of the Year
Cate Looney
Brown Family Wine Group

Cate has a Bachelor degree in Wine Science from Charles Sturt University and a Diploma in Food Science from the University Western Sydney. Prior to joining BFWG she was the winemaker at Scotchmans Hill on the Bellarine Peninsula for five years, and she was the Ron Potter Scholar at the Charles Sturt University winery while she completed her studies.

Cate has extensive experience as a wine show judge, is the secretary of the Australian Sparkling Wine Show Committee and sits on the Charles Sturt University Wine Courses Industry Advisory Committee.

Cate is a highly awarded winemaker, with almost 25 years of experience at senior and management level. She joined the winemaking team at BFWG in 2005 (then known as Brown Brothers) and was promoted to senior winemaker in 2016.

She leads a winemaking team of five and is responsible for the day to day operations of the 20,000 tonne Milawa winery, producing both commercial and premium wines across a multi-branded portfolio.

Cate also has direct responsibility for the BFWG traditional method sparkling wine range and has been the driving force behind the exceptional quality of the Patricia and Non-Vintage Pinot Noir Chardonnay wines, two of the most awarded sparkling wines in Australia.


Viticulturist of the Year
Catherine Kidman
Wynns Coonawarra Estate

Dr Catherine Kidman has been a part of the viticultural team at Wynns since 2011. Her primary role is overseeing the technical program as well as implementing the R&D directions for the vineyards in Coonawarra.

Cath completed her PhD with Adelaide University examining grapevine rootstocks, water stress, flowering and fruitset. This has given her good grounding for her more recent work at Wynns exploring vine water status, and the role of climate for early, accurate yield predictions, as well as other trials in an attempt to understand the complexities of the vineyard environment.

Along with her work at Wynns, she also enjoys her supervisory roles with both Masters and PhD students and thinks there’s never been a more interesting and exciting time to be a viticulturist.

Cath is motivated by the challenges that the season, soil types and varieties present and is humbled to be a part of a renown and exciting viticultural and winemaking team that grow fruit that contribute to some of Australia’s most exceptional wines


Woman of Inspiration
Gill Gordon-Smith

Gill Gordon-Smith is a winemaker and the owner of wine shop/school Fall from Grace at Aldinga.

She is an artisan wine producer, retailer, writer, judge and educator.

With Diplomas in Training Design and Development as well as Vocational Education and Training she is a WSET Certified Educator, worked with Qantas Airways developing the renowned Sommelier in the Sky Program, presents internationally for Wine Australia and VIA and co-ordinates the Wine and Spirit School TAFE SA.

Gill has been involved in educator training and mentoring programs for many years including the WSET Educator Training, and leads the Vinitaly Academy Educator program and TAFESA Wine School educator training.

She is passionate about Italian grapes and wine.


Champion of Diversity & Equality
Helen Strachan
Pernod Ricard Winemakers

Helen is the Legal and Corporate Affairs director for Pernod Ricard Winemakers and is a member of its management committee.

Helen grew up in the wine industry as the daughter of a grapegrower and loves contributing to the wine industry as a board member for Australian Grape and Wine and chair of its Large Winemakers Committee and the National Wine Foundation. She is also a member of the Australian Wine Industry Joint Strategy, Crisis Response & Wine Australia Board Selection Committees and is the Wine Industry’s representative on the DrinkWise Board.

Helen is most proud of her role as a Diversity & Inclusion Ambassador for Pernod Ricard Winemakers, for receiving the ACC Australian Corporate Lawyer Award for Corporate Social Responsibility Excellence in 2019, and for being a finalist in the Champion of Diversity & Equality in the 2020 Australian Women in Wine Awards.


Cellar Door Person of the Year
Jess Greatwich
Krondorf Creek Farm

Jess Greatwich is the co-owner and managing director of Krondorf Creek Farm, one of the smallest boutique wine producers in the Barossa Valley.

Jess and her partner James Ehrat have spent the past 19 years bringing a previously abandoned farming property back to life, planting their estate vineyard, and establishing a cellar of soft, fruit-driven red wines that pay their respect to traditional Australian winemaking.

Krondorf Creek Farm is built on the core principles of provenance, custodianship, generosity, integrity and respect and Jess seeks to embody these values in their cellar door, where she personally hosts every single guest to the property. The only place in the world where they sell their wines is from the restored stone smoke house in the heart of the heritage wine village of Krondorf.

Outside of the wine world, Jess is the convening chair of the Krondorf Road Cellar Door group, Tourism Barossa’s membership manager, a contributing columnist for Barossa Mag, mother to Georgia and Charlie, partner to James and a pretty good prawn dumpling maker (if she does say so herself).


Owner/Operator of the Year
Melissa Brown
Gemtree Wines

As chief viticulturist and co-owner of Gemtree Wines, Melissa oversees many components of the day-to-day running of the winery as well as being the godmother to the regenerative agriculture philosophies of Gemtree.

Melissa is a third-generation McLaren Vale grapegrower and along with her winemaker husband Mike, is the current custodian of the land she is entrusted with. Melissa is a firm believer of passing the land to the next generation in a better condition than it was handed to her.

From introducing and leading the biodynamic practices in the vineyard to developing the Gemtree Ecotrail, which involved planting thousands of native trees and shrubs on the property, Melissa is a leader in her field and is sought after for advice and counsel on biodynamics, organics, sustainability and regenerative farming.


Marketer of the Year
Trish Barry
Mastermind Consulting

For more than 20 years Trish Barry has helped drive growth and reposition wine brands across many different consumer touch points and categories. She has a particular passion for direct to consumer marketing though.

Having worked at one of Australia’s first digital agencies when banner ads were all the rage and social media did not even exist, she’s seen a lot in her time. Her business, Mastermind Consulting was born in 2008, the first type of wine marketing business to evolve exclusively to specialise in digital, social, direct and content marketing.

Mastermind has pioneered many of the ground-breaking digital and social media initiatives that took flight in Australia. Tweet ups, Instameets, the Rosé Revolution, consumer online tasting panels were our innovations along with utilising other tools in the digital toolbox.

Trish has a Bachelor of Business (First Class Hons) from University of Technology, Sydney, and a Graduate Certificate of Wine Marketing from the University of South Australia.

She is an active member of Wine Communicators of Australia and an Alumni in the Wine Industry Future Leaders Program but her greatest achievement is being mum to two amazing children aged 13 and 10. A role that changes more than the world of digital!

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