Sarah McDougall, from Lake George Winery, has won owner/operator of the year at the 2019 Australian Women in Wine Awards.
McDougall called us from the glittering awards ceremony at Union West in New York, where 40 female wine producers were joined by media, dignitaries and trade representatives from the United States, to celebrate Australian wine.
"To be nominated in the first place was amazing, but to actually win is mind-blowing," McDougall said.
"To be able to represent the Canberra district on the global stage is such an honour."
McDougall and her husband Anthony took charge at Lake George in 2018, transforming one of the region's earliest vineyards into a thriving destination.
The event, which was co-hosted by New York-based sommelier and women in wine advocate Marika Vida and the AWIWA founder and chair, Jane Thomson, was conducted in partnership with Wine Australia and was the launch piece for Wine Australia's Far From Ordinary campaign. The month-long campaign is the largest Australian wine promotion held in the United States.
Thomson said the decision to kick off the whole campaign with the AWIWA was a clear sign Aussie "wine chicks" were integral to the Australian wine story, and that celebrating their contribution had benefits to the entire wine community and beyond.
"Australian wine history is now boldly being made with her-story front and centre," Thomson said.
McDougall said she was humbled to be recognised for her "normal". "People were saying they didn't know how I did it, run the winery, grow grapes, raise our little family, but that's just every day to us."
She'll pack up and head home soon, no rest for the winners. Lake George Winery is hosting the Grapest 5K Run on Saturday, September 28, a 5km or 10km off-road fun-run and wine tasting "waddle". Work up a thirst with the 5km or 10km run through the winery then enjoy a cool down through the wine-tasting waddle to re-energise yourself before some grape dancing with live entertainment as the sun sets. Details: centauroutdoorevents.com.au
New life for Kerralee
Jason and Alecia Brown, of Moppity Vineyards, one of the Hilltops districts most awarded wineries, have purchased the old Kerralee Vineyard on the Barton Highway.
"Our new Canberra vineyard has phenomenal potential," says Jason Brown, with plans for a site expansion and a central, purpose-built winery and cellar door. The Browns have run Moppity since 2004 and in 2011 bought the Tumbarumba, Coppabella brand.
"If there's one thing that's excited me the most at Moppity, it's the capacity to surprise people with our wines," says Jason Brown.
"Hilltops was underrated when we bought the, then dilapidated, Moppity vineyard from the hands of receivers in 2004. The Coppabella vineyard was struggling financially and on the verge of being removed before we bought it in 2011.
"On the back of a lot of toil, sweat and tears, and a little blood, we've resurrected both sites and they've achieved well-deserved acclaim since then."
Brown said the new winery would raise the quality of Moppity and Coppabella wines even further through greater wine-making control, improved facilities, a reduction in grape transport quality impacts and a smaller environmental footprint.
"We already have a diverse range of varieties and wine styles that showcase what southern NSW has to offer but Canberra has its own unique personality that needs to be expressed.
"I see Canberra, Hilltops and Tumbarumba as the holy trinity; the heart and soul of southern NSW winemaking. We've long held a belief that these areas can produce some of the best and most exciting wines in Australia and now we are pleased to announce that we have a foothold in all three."
Kerralee was originally planted in 1994 and the Browns plan to graft their two best clones of shiraz onto the original rootstocks. They will be expanding the vineyard to plant a further three clones of shiraz and some grenache, mourvedre, cinsault and two clones of riesling.