Sarah Crowe was a horticulturist working in plant nurseries when she had the idea of working in a vineyard.
"I thought it's just like a big garden, full of plants, how hard could it be?" Crowe said.
In 2001, she got a casual job pruning wines at Brokenwood, in the Hunter Valley, and then, looking for some more hours, went into the winery.
"And I accidentally became a winemaker."
In 2013 she moved to Yarra Yering vineyard in the Yarra Valley.
Eighteen years since she clipped her first vine, she's now chief winemaker at Yarra Yering, in the Yarra Valley, and she's at the top of her game. In 2017 she was named James Halliday Winemaker of the Year, in 2019 she was a finallist in the Gourmet Traveller Wine Winemaker of the Year Awards.
And now she has won the Len Evans Memorial Trophy for Champion Wine of the Show at Canberra's National Wine Show with her 2018 Underhill Shiraz.
"I've had a good couple of years," she says.
"Yarra Yering is a beautiful vineyard. We've had good vintages in recent years and have made some really beautiful wines."
She says the winning shiraz is "a real expression of the vine" on the single block in the vineyard it is made on.
"The vines were planted in 1973, there's a real history to them. We've tried to make a beautiful, fragrant, cool climate wine, a spicy little shiraz."
At the presentation dinner at the National Arboretum on Friday night 21 trophies were presented. The show received 1258 entries, 72 new wineries were represented in a total of 235 wineries.
It was such a compelliing wine and that was the view of the whole panel, even the mentors, we haven't see a wine like that for years.Chair of judges David Bicknell
Crowe's shiraz also won the shiraz trophy and the single vineyard dry red trophy.
The Xanadu 2017 Reserve chardonnay won the best white wine trophy and a Morris Wines Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Topaque won the Edgar Riek memorial fortified wine trophy.
Chair of judges David Bicknell said Crowe's shiraz was one the best wines the show had ever seen.
"That shiraz surprised as all," he said. "It was such a compelliing wine and that was the view of the whole panel, even the mentors, we haven't see a wine like that for years. It deserved to go all the way."
Overall, he said the show was a win for provenance with classic wines from the classic regions, from companies at the top of their games, winning the trophies.
2019 TROPHIES: Kit Stevens Memorial Sparkling Trophy, Brown Family Wine Group, 2012 Pirie Traditional Method; Riesling Trophy, Jim Barry Wines, 2019 Clos Clare Riesling; Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc Semillon Trophy, Sidewood Estate, 2019 Sauvignon Blanc; Semillon Trophy, Tyrrell's Vineyards, 2009 Vat 1 Semillon; Chardonnay Trophy, Xanadu, 2017 Reserve Chardonnay; Other Single White Varieties Trophy, Nepenthe, 2018 Winemakers Selection Gewrztraminer; Single Vineyard White Trophy, Xanadu, 2017 Reserve Chardonnay; White Wine of Provenance Trophy, Peter Lehmann Wines, 2018, 2012, 2006 Wigan Riesling; Sweet White Table Wine Trophy, Riversdale Estate, 2014 Botrytis Riesling; Rosé Trophy, Stella Bella Wines, 2019 Otro Vino Rosé; Pinot Noir Trophy, De Bortoli Wines, 2018 Riorrett Lusatia Park Pinot Noir; Shiraz Trophy, Yarra Yering, 2018 Underhill Shiraz; Cabernet Sauvignon Trophy, Xanadu, 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon; Other Red Single Varieties Trophy, C. A. Henschke & Co, 2018 Stone Jar Tempranillo; Blended Red Trophy, Miles From Nowhere, 2018 Cabernet Merlot; Single Vineyard Dry Red Trophy, Yarra Yering, 2018 Underhill Shiraz; Red Wine of Provenance Trophy, Saltram, 2016, 2010, 2004 Mamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon; Edgar Riek Memorial Fortified Wine Trophy, Morris Wines, Cellar Reserve Grand Liqueur Topaque; Best White Wine Trophy, Xanadu, 2017 Reserve Chardonnay; Best Red Wine Trophy, Yarra Yering, 2018 Underhill Shiraz; Len Evans Memorial Trophy for Champion Wine of the Show, Yarra Yering, 2018 Underhill Shiraz.
- Tickets are still available for Saturday's public Wine Experience on November 23 from 3-5pm where all wines are available for tasting. Tickets from rncas.org.au/nws