She is only the fifth woman to have received this honour for wine (45 awarded in total).
Renowned for her tireless work in advocating for diversity and inclusion in the wine industry, Thomson’s steely resolve has given women in wine a voice and a platform for change over the last 11 years.
“I am incredibly honoured to receive this award,” Thomson says.
“To be recognised was such a surprise and I’m thrilled to be able to further celebrate and draw attention to the work of women in the wine industry.”
Wine writer and AWIWA board member Jeni Port says, “Before Jane Thomson there was little to no national debate about diversity and inclusion in the wine industry.
“Women enter the industry in strong numbers but leave way too soon.
“They need female role models and leadership to succeed, and Jane provides this.
“She is one of the strongest, most accomplished women I have ever had the pleasure to work with.”
Rebekah Richardson, fellow AWIWA board member and winemaker says, “Jane’s focus on lifting up all women in wine benefits the whole industry.
“She has provided a platform and the energy to make sure that the amazing women within wine don’t go unnoticed.”
Gender inequality (senior job opportunities, talent drain and pay gap), and the lack of meaningful support for women spurred on Thomson to launch the AWIWA, to bring wider attention to women in wine.
A psychologist turned wine communications professional from New South Wales (with a vineyard-owning father), she was the perfect woman for the job.
“She showed the leadership that was required to jolt the Australian wine industry upright, to take note and to act. She has led the national discussion and continues to push for change,” Port says.
It took grit and determination to be taken seriously in the industry to begin with.
“In the face of scepticism and opposition, Jane has remained steadfast in her mission to empower women and create opportunities for their advancement,” says Sarah Collingwood, former AWIWA board member and CEO of Four Winds Vineyard.
Successfully increasing the industry’s overall awareness of gender disparity is one thing, but Thomson warns that, “The talent drain of women in the industry won’t be fixed by just talking and believing in diversity, it needs funding.
“Without it we won’t have a diversity of people in top decision-making roles, and we will lack the innovative and strategic thinking necessary to see us through the challenges we are facing now and in the future.”
In an industry, which previously did little to support or celebrate the work of women, Thomson has seen some change, but there is still a long way to go.
Only last week she called out the lack of diversity at the Wine Australia CEO task force committee, which included one woman out of 16 members called together to discuss the industry’s future.
Thomson hopes this award will encourage more regional women and women in STEM and agriculture to be nominated and recognised.
“You can’t be what you can’t see, and I hope this award inspires other women to pursue their chosen career with passion and persistence,” she says.