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Mother’s Day – Sunday 11th March – is fast approaching and gives the wine trade an opportunity to highlight fantastic women winemakers for holiday offers. We are proud to have a number of truly amazing wines made by those who are mothers themselves.
Helen Masters is head winemaker of the world-renowned Pinot Noir producer, Ata Rangi. During her gap year in 1990, she worked at Ata Rangi as a cellar hand. After years of studying, working and travelling, she re-joined Ata Rangi as head winemaker in 2003 and is responsible for crafting the range of wines from this producer.
As well as crafting top quality wines, she keeps a close eye on the vineyards, manages complex technical issues, drives their ISO14001 environmental management system and is the face of Ata Rangi - all this whilst balancing a busy family life. She has amazing stamina and tenacity, quoting “I’m the youngest of 12, so I quickly honed quite a few survival skills!”
Fiona Turner has been immersed in the wine industry since 1995, after completing her Masters in Biological Chemistry (with Honours). The Tinpot Hut story began in 2003 when she and her husband Hamish established their own 50-acre vineyard in Marlborough's emerging sub-region of Blind River. Naming her range of wines after an historic Marlborough mustering hut, the 'Tinpot Hut' links the area's sheep farming past with its current state as one of the world's most dynamic wine regions.
Fiona is one of the most respected winemakers in the region, with over 15 years’ experience in New Zealand and overseas. Fiona focuses on producing wines that are true to their variety and express the characteristics inherent in the grapes. Her experience in winemaking, viticulture and marketing allow her wines to evolve. She is also part of the Kiwi-Oeno wine consultancy team.
Mount Horrocks in the Clare Valley is owned by winemaker Stephanie Toole, who restricts production to approximately 3,500 cases per year in order to achieve her aims of quality and vineyard expression. She carefully crafts her wines, which she describes as “essentially handmade food wines with emphasis on structure as well as generous fruit flavours”.
The winery was established in 1980 and purchased by Stephanie in 1993. She recalls: “It was a huge learning curve. I had to juggle a new business, I was pregnant when I bought it and I had two children 15 months apart”. Since then she has made significant improvements to the wines, vineyards and winery and in 2014, the winery and vineyards were certified organic by the ACO (Australian Certified Organic). Stephanie has been leading the trend for fresh and elegant wines in Australia and will be celebrating 25 years at Mount Horrocks this year.
Mother of two Elena Brooks is able to juggle motherhood and winemaking at not one but three wineries. Wines from Dandelion and Heirloom in Australia, and Cien y Pico in Spain are all produced under the skilful hand of Bulgarian-born Elena. Elena’s philosophy is “the truth is in the vineyard and the proof is in the bottle.”
At the age of 20, Elena packed her bags and moved to Australia to study oenology at the University of Adelaide. Elena is regularly regarded as one of the world’s leading wine producers as her Dandelion Vineyard wines are continually improving and setting new benchmarks for the region. Elena stunned the Barossa in 2014 by winning winemaker of the show at the Barossa show, after Dandelion scooped up four awards.
In 1998, Jane Eyre was working as a hairdresser when she asked a customer, who happened to be the wife of wine writer Jeremy Oliver, if she knew of any wineries where she could do work experience. There and then, Jane made the brave decision to follow her passion and quit her job to go to France to pursue a new career as a winemaker. Jane has confessed she “became a little bit obsessed with Pinot Noir”. Her first grape harvest was in Burgundy and a love of the region soon took hold.
In 2004, Jane settled in Burgundy, where she is the winemaker at Domaine Newman in Beaune, and heads her own negociant business. In 2011, after 13 years in the industry, Jane produced her first wine under her own Jane Eyre label. She has since expanded her reach and returns to Australia (Victoria) to make Pinot Noir as well. The hallmark of Jane’s winemaking style is time in the vineyard and a minimal interventionalist approach.