Ahead of the announcement of the winners of the 2016 Australian Women in Wine Awards on Tuesday November 15 (find a celebration event near you) we take a closer look at our fabulous finalists in the Winemaker of the Year category, so you can get to know your #winechicks!
This year our finalists for Winemaker of the Year are (in alphabetical order):
Sponsored by Wine Ark
- Jo Marsh, Alpine Valleys NE Victoria
- Emma Norbiato, Riverina NSW
- Anna Pooley, Tasmania
- Alexia Roberts McLaren Vale, SA
Jo Marsh, Alpine Valleys, NE Victoria
Jo’s first official foray into the world of wine was jumping head first into an Agricultural Science (Oenology) Degree from the University of Adelaide in 2001. She made it through to the other side, graduating and also winning the SA Wine and Brandy Commission Silver Medal, R.H. Martin Memorial Prize for Sensory Evaluation and the Hyatt/Advertiser Award for highest fourth year aggregate. Off to a good start, then.
What to do next? Most people would plant themselves on a beach, caprioska in hand, and take a breather. But not Jo. She scored a position in Southcorp Wines’ (now Treasury Wine Estates) Graduate Recruitment Program, working at Penfolds Nuriootpa, Rosemount Denman and Lindemans Karadoc over a period of two years. In 2004 she was appointed Assistant Winemaker at Seppelt Great Western. In 2005 she was promoted to winemaker and took on responsibility for the traditional method sparkling wines, notably Seppelt Salinger and Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz, in addition to managing operational winemaking for red and white table wines. In 2009 Jo was promoted to Senior Winemaker, managing all aspects of winemaking on site.
The year 2011 was a big one for Jo. She won the People’s Choice and Member’s Choice at the Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year Awards. And completed the Len Evans Tutorial Scholarship. But with a heavy heart, that year Jo also departed Seppelt and went on the hunt for the next big thing. Turns out that thing was to join Feathertop Wines in Porepunkah as Head Winemaker, and this is where Jo fell in love with the Alpine Valleys. Jo elevated Feathertop to a 5-star James Halliday-rated winery and realised her dream of making exciting wines with exciting varietals in this gorgeous cool-climate region of Victoria.
After a few great years in Porepunkah, Jo began to think big. She departed Feathertop and in 2014, it was time to step up and realise an even bigger dream – to create her own wines under her own label on Alpine Valleys turf. And thus, Billy Button Wines was born. In 2015, just 12 months after launching her new label, Jo was named as one of the four finalists in the Australian Women in Wine Awards Winemaker of the Year and in 2016 was a finalist in the Young Guns of Wine.
Jo has completed vintages in Napa Valley, California and Burgundy, France. In 2015 she selected to compete in the Ningxia Winemakers Challenge, an international competition based in the Ningxia region of China, where she is currently making a Cabernet Sauvignon to be judged at an international awards ceremony in 2017.
Jo is also a respected wine show judge and has judged at Royal Melbourne Wine Awards, Sydney Royal Wine Show and numerous other regional shows. She also organises the North East Victorian Wine Challenge and is a committee member of the Alpine Valleys Vignerons.
Emma Norbiato, Riverina NSW
Emma Norbiato is a Winemaker for Calabria Family Wines. She was born and bred in the Riverina, being raised on a sheep and rice farm, eventually leading her to become a winemaker. Graduating from Charles Sturt University in 2001, Emma achieved the highest mark for sensory evaluation in her year and was awarded an Associate Judging position at the National Wine Show in Canberra at age 21.
Whilst studying, Emma completed vintages at Mountadam and Cranswick Estate, finally commencing an assistant winemaker role with Lindemans in 2001. After a vintage in Tuscany making Brunello at Castelgiocondo, Emma returned to Australia and spent 4 years at Penfolds in the red winemaking team.
Following this, at age 26, Emma took up a Senior Winemaking role with Casella, notably producing Yellow Tail.
In 2009 Emma and her husband had their first child, Archie and she commenced employment with Calabria Family Wines. This part time arrangement has led her to working with vineyards and growers in the Riverina whilst having 2 more children, Florence and Edward.
When not pursuing her passion making wine, Emma enjoys cooking and being outdoors with the kids – mainly mountain bike riding and waterskiing.
Anna Pooley, Tasmania
Anna’s wine journey began working alongside her Grandmother Margaret in the family vineyard. Inspired by the first vintage from the Pooley Estate, Anna left Tasmania to study winemaking at the University of Adelaide.
During her career Anna has worked with some of Australia’s great wineries such as Penfold’s, Wolf Blass, Tatachilla, Rosemount and Yellowglen & lead the Tasmanian premium producer Heemskerk to international acclaim.
Vintages in Italy with Castello di Gabbiano & Riecine as well as time at the famed Salomon Undhof in Austria has deepened Anna’s winemaking skill set enabling her to produce elegant and world class – age worthy wines.
In 2008 Anna was the Dux of the AWRI Advanced Wine Assessment course and has judged a range of national and regional shows including the Royal Adelaide wine show, Tasmanian Wine Show, Canberra International Riesling Challenge, Yarra Valley Wine Show, James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge and the Royal Melbourne Wine awards.
In 2010 Anna was awarded the coveted Wine Society ‘Young Winemaker of the Year’ award and in 2012 completed the exclusive Len Evans Tutorial.
In 2012 Anna moved back home to Tasmania with her family to set up a winery which would see the families wines grown, made and bottled on the estate. She is a director of the Board of Tasmania’s industry body ‘Wine Tasmania’ where she is passionate about seeing the states producers succeed well into the future.
Anna works closely with husband Justin Bubb who is also an accomplished winemaker. They have 2 children; Molly and Ned and another on the way!
Her philosophical objective is to craft wines with a focus on a sense of place. “For this is where the heart and soul of wine exists.”
Alexia Roberts McLaren Vale, SA
Alexia joined the GWG team in August 2013, vintage 2014 being the first Penny’s Hill production to bear the stamp of her decade-long experience in McLaren Vale.
This particular vintage showcases Alexia’s handiwork emphatically, winning the ‘Best Australian Red Wine’ at the prestigious 2016 Mundus Vini competition in Germany, as well as ‘World’s Best Cabernet’ at Concours International des Cabernets in France, both career highlights; for Alexia the winemaker and for Penny’s Hill, the brand.
After working vintages in Italy [Emilia Romagna] and France [Burgundy] and producing wines from the Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek and Coonawarra, Alexia completed the AWAC course and her contribution to the greater industry includes membership of wine show committees, judging at McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills wine shows and a growing record of medals, trophies and accolades.
In addition, Alexia is responsible for the parent Galvanized Wine Group’s stable of regional brands, all driven by McLaren Vale reds and Adelaide Hills whites. A significant contributor to the Australian wine industry, Alexia’s future as a talented and passionate winemaker is assured.
The announcement of the winners of all six categories of the 2016 Australian Women in Wine Awards will be streamed via live broadcast at 7:30pm AEDST on Tuesday 15 November. Watch live from home or better yet – join a celebration near you or register your own!