Meet the Finalists: Owner / Operator of the Year 2019

These women of wine are not  just producing wine, they’re running an entire business – and dealing with all that entails. From budgets and staffing, to product development and sales. Here’s to the Owner / Operators that make innovation and best practice a priority – to the benefit of our entire industry.

This award is proudly sponsored by

Watch the AWIWA 2019 ceremony streamed LIVE from New York!

Tuesday 17 September 8pm NY time / Wednesday 18 September 10am AEST

Congratulations to this year’s Owner / Operator finalists! #winechicksrule

Laura Carter, Unico Zelo

Born in Melbourne but raised across the globe, Laura has developed a unique passion to explore Australian culture. Cutting her teeth at the eponymous Henschke winery before heading back overseas to gain experience in the Rhone Valley, Unico Zelo was formed in 2012 with her husband Brendan – with a mission to craft produce that espouses a minimal intervention philosophy. Together they’re employing revolutionary business practices and approaching Australian produce with ultimate respect and optimism, seeking to introduce these concepts into broader farming initiatives and production.

Belinda Chambers, Lake Moodemere Estate

Belinda and her husband, Michael, are the sixth generation of Chambers’ wine producers in the historic wine region of Rutherglen, Victoria. In 1995 they founded Lake Moodemere Estate, following their passion to produce wines exclusively showcasing the high quality fruit from their single vineyard. Over the past six years they have experienced a dramatic increase in recognition in the market, leading to growth in both distribution of product and visitation to their Rutherglen cellar door. Lake Moodemere Estate incorporates the Lakeside single vineyard, Lake Moodemere Estate cellar door and visitor experience, Lakeside Restaurant, Moodemere Lake House accommodation, and 400ha farm focusing on the production of prime Moodemere Lamb.

Belinda is a graduate of the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Commerce and Masters of Agribusiness, and a graduate of the prestigious Australian Rural Leadership Program, sponsored by Wine Australia. She was the Chairperson of the Winemakers of Rutherglen from 2015 to 2017, during which time she worked closely with Cathy McGowan MP and wine industry representatives on WET reform. The belief and support received from her family, the Lake Moodemere Estate team, and regional and industry colleagues sustains her energetic and dedicated contribution to the Australian wine industry and wine region of Rutherglen.

Sarah McDougall, Lake George Winery

Sarah McDougall is a shining light in the Canberra district wine scene. For the past six years she’s been growing her Summerhill Road Vineyard and last year, purchased the oldest winery in Canberra Region, Lake George Winery. In the past 12months, she’s hand harvested 50 tonne of grapes, she’s launched a fresh new brand, refreshed the wine direction and running of the cellar door, won best cellar door with food with Gourmet Traveller wine, looks after the communication & marketing while trying to find a good work/life balance with 5 kids and a husband.

In her spare time she’s the secretary of  the Canberra District Wine Association, and supports the growing Tourism scene. She also made her first wine this year, which has now sold out and she promises she didn’t drink it all.

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