“There are many amazingly talented women working in the Australian wine industry and having an award to recognize their achievements in a traditionally male dominated industry is a positive initiative for the Australian wine industry.”  Rebecca Duffy, Holm Oak Vineyards, Rowella, Tasmania, Winner 2015 Owner/Operator of the Year Award

The Australian Women in Wine Awards (AWIWA) returns in 2016 to give recognition to and acknowledge the work of women in the Australian wine industry. 

With statistics indicating that female participation in some areas in Australian wine (notably winemaking and viticulture) remains as low as 8-10 per cent, the aim of the awards – which were founded in 2015 – is to pursue greater gender diversity and become a driver for change.

The damning statistics for female viticulturists resonates deeply with the AWIWA 2015 Viticulturist of the Year, Irina Santiago-Brown. For her, the AWIWA is the way to start a national conversation. “It celebrates women who, in one way or another, were able to succeed, showing that it is possible. Hopefully this becomes inspirational to other women.”

The awards have created a much-needed national debate and the support from so many industry leaders last year was, in the words of awards founder, Jane Thomson, “overwhelming.”

“We are thrilled that the Australian Women in Wine Awards is already having a strong and positive impact on the discourse around gender equality in the wine industry,” she says, “but there’s so much more to do.”

“This year we are not only working hard to continue pushing the cause but we also want to include even more women in the awards process by expanding the categories and making the entry process even easier.”

This year two new award categories have been created for women who conduct important wine industry research, and those who work at the front line educating thousands of wine loving customers who visit winery cellar doors across the country.

There are six categories in the 2016 Australian Women in Wine Awards:

  • Winemaker of the Year – Sponsored by Wine Ark
  • Viticulturist of the Year – Sponsored by Wine Australia
  • Owner/Operator of the Year – Sponsored by Halliday
  • Workplace Champion of Change – Sponsored by Vinomofo

And new for 2016 are…

  • Researcher of the Year – Sponsored by Lallemand
  • Cellar Door Operator of the Year

As the 2015 inaugural winner of the AWIWA Winemaker of the Year, Rose Kentish of Ulithorne Wines in McLaren Vale, sees a pressing need to engage with women. “It is critical that we encourage more women to enter and stay in winemaking in Australia,” she says. “By doing so, we can help to build a diversity in style, offer a sound career for women, create visible role models for young women, offer mentors for current women winemakers – the list of benefits is endless. The AWIWA is the number one vehicle to champion this issue.”

The Workplace Champion of Change is one award category that is open to both men and women. The concept is simple as last year’s inaugural Champion of Change recipient, Dianne Laurance of Laurance Wines in Margaret River puts it, “We need to do more of applauding women and their accomplishments here in Australia.”

Equal opportunity, a workplace free of sexism and bullying and fair consideration given to those in the industry who decide to have children are among the pivotal requirements for the AWIWA Champion of Change winner.

Conducted under the auspices of The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society and chaired by Society founder, Jane Thomson, the awards are conducted and judged with the assistance of an Advisory Board made up of some of Australia’s wine leaders.

  • Jane Thomson (Chair) – Founder and managing director, The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society
  • Toni Carlino – Wine marketing, independent consultant Vigneto Consulting
  • Samantha Connew – Winemaker and owner, Stargazer Wines and Compass Wine Consulting
  • Jeni Port – Wine writer and 2015 Wine Communicator of the Year
  • Corrina Wright – Winemaker and CEO, Oliver’s Taranga

New board members for 2016 are:

  • Rebekah Richardson – most recently Head of White, Sparkling & Rose for Pernod Ricard Australia
  • Brian Walsh – Chair of Wine Australia

Entries this year will open July 30 and close October 3. Finalists will be announced October 18. Entry is via the AWIWA website:  www.womeninwineawards.com.au

The 2016 winners will again be announced in a unique series of virtual awards night events held throughout the country on Tuesday November 15. Each wine region and city is being encouraged to host an event. Interest in hosting or attending an event for the awards night can be registered on the AWIWA website: womeninwineawards.com.au

The Australian Women in Wine Awards would not be possible without the support of our sponsors. In particular, the 2016 Award Partners (listed above) and our Gold Sponsors – Kennards Wine Storage, Saint Martin, Pernod-Ricard Winemakers and WBM.  

Image is of (from left to right) Irina Santiago-Brown, Winner: Viticulturist of the Year 2015, Briony Hoare, Finalist: Owner Operator of the Year 2015, Rose Kentish, Winner: Winemaker of the Year 2015. PHOTO CREDIT: Milton Wordley. 


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