My parents have always enjoyed wine and I remember being quite bored as I was dragged around on what felt like endless wine tours with them when I was a kid.
I even remember doing a school project on Moorilla winery / vineyard as an 11 year old, which must have been seen an unusual choice for a kid!
My parents would joke that I should be a winemaker when I grow up, but it wasn't something I really thought about doing until I left school.
I studied horticulture at TAFE and started working at Clemens Hill vineyard as a vineyard hand. After 5 years there I became vineyard manager whilst also studying winemaking / viticulture. I also did a short stint at Cape Bernier vineyard. I loved the vineyard but became more and more interested in winemaking, and when a job came up as an assistant winemaker at Derwent Estate I jumped at the chance.
The Tasmanian wine industry is a really exciting industry to be a part of right now. Our wines are of exceptional quality, boutique and we are gaining more and more international recognition. The climate here is perfect for growing cool climate grape varieties including my favourites, Pinot and Chardonnay. The industry is growing, which means more grapes are going in to keep up with demand.
Everywhere the industry has taken me around the state, the sites are always visually stunning and unique. I am constantly amazed at how climate and soil types can change so dramatically within such small distances. These factors have a big impact on the wines, how they are expressed and their quality.
Growing up in Tassie I feel proud to be playing a part in the quality produce that we are becoming more recognised for.
We have such a small team at Derwent Estate, that I am able to be a part of every step of the winemaking process. From tasting and analysing, to filtering, bottling, barrel work, cleaning and processing. There is no aspect I haven’t been involved in and there is always something to do.
I have learnt so much in the couple of years I have been here. The work is very hands on with vintage requiring very long hours, and is also quite physical. It’s not for everyone, but I love it.
I believe I had a good foundation starting in the vineyard. Uni helped with the basics of winemaking, but what I have learnt in the last couple of years physically working in the winery has been invaluable. I believe it’s really important to understand both areas and without good fruit it is extremely difficult to make great wine.
My work place is set on top of the hill, with a beautiful view overlooking the vines and the Derwent river. The barrel room end of the building is constructed from straw bales for insulation, providing protection from the cold winds that howl through with the Bridgewater jerry in the cooler months, and the hot days over summer.
Built only a few years ago, the winery is modern, equipped with some state of the art machinery.
It’s sometimes quite daunting being responsible for the operation of such expensive equipment and thousands of litres of wine in barrel and tank.
I love watching the wines evolve, as each year throws up different challenges and characteristics, but most of all I love getting creative in the winery, experimenting with different techniques and finding what works and what doesn’t, I love that I will be forever learning in this job.
One day I would love to have my own vineyard and label but at the moment I just want to learn as much as I can and do the best job possible. My main goal is to be happy in what I do at home and at work, and hopefully that will flow on to the people around me.
My family is the most important thing in my life. I'm forever working on finding that work / life balance combining my enjoyment in work and quality time at home. Life feels so busy, it’s easy to let time slip by without taking time out for family and for self.
I always have and always will have a strong connection to Tasmania. My husband and I travelled a lot before kids, and I think that is what really made us truly appreciate home. It is a beautiful place, and we always said we would settle back here when we had children. I couldn’t think of a better place to bring them up.
I feel lucky to have grown up here and I also feel that my ancestors were also just as lucky to find themselves here. The sad history of how they arrived here has tainted my view on connection to land, however, and how much myself and my ancestors truly belong.
That said, I am still proud to be Tasmanian and proud of our delicious high quality produce. I definitely feel free to reinvent myself and play a small part in the making of a new and better history for Tasmania.
Photography by Lara van Raay.