Is there anything better than gathering for an intimate dinner with a like-minded group of women, enjoying a nice meal, a couple of glasses of excellent wine, conversation flows, new friends are made.
If this sounds like your thing - yes, me too - then make time in your diary for a new series of wine events held by the Canberra and District Wine Industry Association.
The inaugural Canberra Women in Wine Dinner will showcase the talents of Sarah McDougall from Lake George Winery and Carla Rodeghiero from Sapling Yard. Not only will it be a chance to talk to the winemakers and sample their wines, you’ll get to hear the stories of women who are making their mark in a man’s world.
Fran Marshall, who has facilitated the series, wants the dinners to be like having dinner with your friends.
“I love having that one-on-one relationship and discussion with winemakers, especially women winemakers, in a small group, where it's not so intimidating, where silly questions are easily asked,” she says.
“There are only about 10 per cent of women in the wine industry overall but we have some fantastic women here in the Canberra wine region, but they tend not to push themselves, or highlight their achievements.
“I'm a massive champion of women in any industry and at the moment my focus is the wine industry.”
Rodeghiero’s love of wine began as a 20-year-old. She had pursued a career in microbiology and was working in London as a locum, working part-time in a wine bar on Carnaby Street in London.
“I became mesmerised by wines, I remember a 1993 Mt Langi Ghiran Shiraz and vowed one day to make a wine that rivaled its remarkable character,” she says.
When she returned to Australia in 1997 she began a wine science degree at Charles Sturt University and completed her last residential school in 2004 with her nine-week-old daughter in tow.
“I had some real experience under my belt by the end, I worked on vintages in the Hunter Valley, in Orange and in Oregon overseas.
“But I found it difficult to transition into, say even an assistant winemaker role. Here in Canberra it's hard to get a job as a winemaker as the region is so small so I just started my own label.
“I thought why not, so in 2013 I launched Sapling and I've been building the brand and the label and making small amounts of wine.”
McDougall, who has a background in marketing and tourism, believes women bring a different perspective to wine making and the industry that develops around it. She, and her husband Anthony took over the reins at Lake George Winery in mid-2018 while still operating Summerhill Road vineyard where their “dream of making our wine started.”
“Women are able to multitask and when you’re a small business there’s lots to be done,” McDougall says.
The inaugural dinner will be held at Muse, in Kingston, a three-course dinner matched with six wines. Starting with a glass of champagne the menu includes Lake George and Sapling Yard rosé with charcuterie; Lake George chardonnay and Sapling Yard pinot gris with seafood paella or harissa baked pumpkin; and Lake George shiraz and Sapling Yard shiraz viognier with a cheese and chocolate board. Tickets are $122pp and a lucky diner will go home with a two pack of their favourite wines.
And there's more ...
What better day to hold the inaugural Meet the Makers: Women in Beer, Wine & Spirits event than International Women's Day on March 8.
An initiative of wine retailer Cellarmasters and liquor retailer BSW, the two day event will feature more than 30 winemakers, distillers and brewers.
Canberra will be represented by Claudia Roughley, of Underground Spirits.
Meet the Makers: Women in Beer, Wine & Spirits is taking place at Australian Technology Park in Sydney, and kicks off with a session on Friday, March 8, and two more sessions on March 9.
More details at cellarmasters.com.au