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Monday 10 August 2015

Awards for women in wine: sexist or necessary?

My first thought was: What a lot of sexist nonsense. 

Not your usual sexist nonsense this time, but an awards event for one sex only: women. 

The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society, which promotes wine to female consumers, recently announced the launch of the Australian Women in Wine Awards "to acknowledge and reward the work of women in the Australian wine industry, and industry leaders who champion equality and fairness for all sexes in the workplace".
Jane Thomson 

I know there would be an uproar if there were to be an award for "best male winemaker", or "best male viticulturist" but maybe these awards are not as silly as it may seem. 

After all, only 10% of those involved in the winemaking industry are women, and I regularly hear tales about discrimination. 

As David Breuer of Temple Breuer Wines, who employs two women winemakers, points out so accurately: "You do not, as far as I know, need a penis to make wine." 

I was also swayed by conversations not only with Fabulous Ladies founder Jane Thomson (don't try arguing with her) and some of the finest winemakers in the country, including Sam Connew of Stargazer and Corrina Wright of Oliver's Taranga, who say that it is essential women wave the flag for those doing well in the industry until the numbers bear some semblance of equality. 

“For decades we’ve been wishing and hoping to see a significant rise in gender diversity in the Australian wine industry,” says the feisty Ms Thomson. “Unfortunately, wishing alone hasn’t worked. Current estimates put female participation at around 8-10%, and some areas - like viticulture - are actually in decline. 

"The Australian wine industry needs positive female role models and leaders. With these awards we hope to highlight a few more of them.” 

So here we go: the awards, the first of their kind in Australia, offer four categories which will be judged by six members of an advisory board that is made up of some of the industry’s leading female talent. 

The entry deadline for the Australian Women in Wine Awards is Tuesday, October 6, 2015 and winners will be announced on Tuesday, November 17.

The Award Categories for 2015 are: 
Winemaker of the Year - sponsored by Wine Ark 
Viticulturist of the Year – sponsored by Wine Australia
Owner/Operator of the Year – sponsored by Cellarhand
Workplace Champion of Change – sponsored by Vinomofo 

The advisory board includes Jane Thomson (chair) – Founder & Managing Director of The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society, Samantha Connew - winemaker and owner of Stargazer Wines and Compass Wine Consulting, Jeni Port - wine writer, Corrina Wright - CEO and winemaker at Oliver’s Taranga, Toni Carlino – independent wine marketing consultant and Jenny Houghton – viticulturist and owner of Maygars Hill Vineyard. 

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