Meet the Finalists: Owner / Operator of the Year 2020
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
Congratulations to this year’s Owner / Operator of the Year finalists! #winechicksrule
Melissa Brown – Gemtree Wines
As chief viticulturist and co-owner of Gemtree Wines, Melissa oversees many components of the day-to-day running of the winery as well as being the Godmother to the regenerative agriculture philosophies of Gemtree. Melissa is a third generation McLaren Vale grape grower and along with her winemaker husband Mike, is the current custodian of the land she is entrusted with. Melissa is a firm believer of passing the land to the next generation in a better condition than it was handed to her.
From introducing and leading the biodynamic practices in the vineyard to developing the Gemtree Ecotrail, which involved planting thousands of native trees and shrubs on the property, Melissa is a leader in her field and is sought after for advice and counsel on biodynamics, organics, sustainability and regenerative farming.
Laura Carter – Unico Zelo
Born in Melbourne but raised across the globe, Laura has developed a unique passion to express Australian culture through wine. 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 wines that espouse a minimal intervention philosophy and create drinkable and refreshing styles of wine.
With respect to the land they belong to – they approach Australian produce with ultimate respect and optimism, and seek to introduce this into broader farming initiatives and production, as showcased with their sister businesses – Applewood Distillery and Harvest Social Cantina”
Lisa Margan – Margan Wines & Restaurant
Lisa Margan is the co-Managing Director of Margan Wines, Hunter Valley and with husband and business partner Andrew, oversees all business operations, ably assisted by a talented team of 30.
From humble beginnings, Margan now boasts a five-star winery, 100 ha of sustainably farmed vineyards, and acclaimed wine tourism operations including a hatted restaurant and award-winning cellar door. Margan Wines is a 25,000-case brand which is sold both domestically and to export destinations and has been awarded many accolades over the years.
Lisa is a strong advocate for the promotion of wine tourism and sits on several boards and committees in support of the wine, food and hospitality industry. These include the Hunter Valley Wine Show Lunch (Chair), Hunter Culinary Association (Deputy Chair) and Women of Hospitality Organisation WOHO (Board). She supports countless worthy causes and charities and is a mentor to many, via both informal and formal mentoring programs.