Laura Carter – Winemaker at Unico Zelo – Adelaide Hills, Australia
Laura’s journey to become a winemaker took more than 5 years, with many major turning points that defined her unique approach to winemaking. Inspired by a holiday to Italy that saw Laura tour many wineries, Laura became fascinated by the connection between culture, food and wine and the unique way wine was able to express the stories of the culture and people behind it, and the generosity and simplicity in their approach to winemaking and growing.
Back home in South Australia, Laura approached Henschke to work in their wine laboratory for a season. She began there in 2012, eventually moving into a cellar hand role in both the white and red cellars while she completed her degree in Agricultural Science.
With her partner Brendan, Laura then founded Unico in 2012 – a result of their mutual love of Italian varietals and passion towards sustainable Australian agriculture. 2012 was also the year Applewood distillery was founded, where Laura and her partner Brendan were able to add to their repertoire a unique selection of spirits that hero Australian native botanicals.
Ayana Misawa – Winemaker at Grace Wines – Yamanashi, Japan
In a country where young, educated women often find their career prospects constrained by gender, it’s especially amazing to find a young woman, making wine in one of Japan’s most prestigious wineries – Grace Wine. Ayana has studied winemaking on at least three continents—first at the Institute of Oenology and Viticulture in Yamanashi, next at the Faculty of Oenology of the University of Bordeaux, and finally doing post-graduate work in vine physiology at South Africa’s Stellenbosch University.
Following her training, she has spent time making wine at some of the world’s best known wineries—Cape Point Vineyards in South Africa, Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Errazuriz in Chile, Mountford in New Zealand, in addition to spending time in Margaret River in Australia and Burgundy in France.
Read More: Grace Wine
Annie Millton – Co-Founder at Millton Vineyards – Gisborne, New Zealand
In 1984 Annie Milton along with Husband James, established The Millton Vineyard and become New Zealand’s first Organic and Biodynamic wine estate.
Prior returning to Gisborne, Annie gained experience in the famous wine regions ofFrance and Germany, including Champagne Bollinger, Maison Sichel in Bordeaux and Weingut Kurstner in Rheinhessen.
Annie is without a doubt an iconic woman in New Zealand’s wine sector and both her and James have influenced and inspired many New Zealand wine professional to take the path of organic and biodynamic winemaking.
Read More: Millton Vineyards & Winery
Jane Hunter – Managing Director at Hunter’s Wines – Marlborough, New Zealand
Born in South Australia, where her father was a contract grape grower for BRL Hardy Jane gained a degree in Agricultural Science at the University of Adelaide. She worked in Australia and New Zealand at various jobs before she was appointed to the position of National Viticulturist for Montana Wines based in Blenheim. At a crucial time for New Zealand’s fledgling wine industry, Jane was in charge of all Montana’s vineyards, setting work programmes for the managers, organising research and development and liaising with contract growers.
Jane met and married Irishman Ernie Hunter in 1984, and after his untimely death in 1987 she took over running Hunter’s Wines which Ernie had established in Marlborough in 1979. It was widely expected that Jane would sell up and move back to Australia, but the resolve that fuelled Jane’s decision to stay and fight for a future for Hunter’s Wines and New Zealand Wines after Ernie’s death has come to light many times since.
Jane has been described by the London Sunday Times as the First Lady of New Zealand wine and was awarded an OBE for service to the wine industry in 1993.
Jane has an Honorary Doctor of Science from Massey University received the inaugural Wine & Spirit Competition Women in Wine Award. In 2009 Jane was awarded the Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM)
Read More: Hunter’s Wine
Melba Brajkovich – Co-Founder at Kumeu River, Auckland, New Zealand
Melba was recognised in the 2014 Queens Birthday Honours for her services to the NZ wine industry by being made a member of the NZ Order of Merit.
When Melba Brajkovich met her husband Maté in 1957, she had very little knowledge of the business of wine making. In the many decades since, she has become one of New Zealand’s most experienced and knowledgeable women in the industry.
Maté, the family pioneer and visionary, sadly passed away in 1992. Our very best single vineyard Chardonnay will always carry his name in recognition of what a fine winemaker, husband, and father he was.
Kumeu River Wines has been a labour of love for Melba. She provides a fascinating source of knowledge and history during her winery tours, which are easily accessible from Auckland. Well worth a visit. Kumeu River Wines always has been, and always will be, a welcoming place where good wine and great hospitality come together in a family atmosphere of history and tradition.
Read More: Kumeu River Wines
Therese Herzog – Co-Founder at Hans Herzog Wines – Marlborough, New Zealand
Behind every successful man, there is a strong, wise and hardworking woman. And in Hans Herzog’s case that woman is his life and business partner Therese Herzog.
Originally from Switzerland, Therese, a committed epicure, ended her marketing career in 1992 to open a restaurant on the estate. She is a natural, vivacious host and people were soon queuing up to experience the combination of fine food, impeccable service, ambience and of course Hans’ wines: serious, handcrafted food wines. The restaurant won high praise and a prestigious Michelin Star.
The pair were in search of the perfect place to produce Bordeaux-style wines and found this in Marlborough, New Zealand. They planted there first vines in 1996, with their first vintage in 1998.
Therese did not stand back and eager for a new challenge, opened “Herzog’s restaurant” in March 2000 – creating the same resounding success of her Michelin starred Swiss restaurant. Following the success of the Gourmet Restaurant a Cellar Door, Bistro and Vineyard Cottage now complete the wine and food experience which Therese oversee the day to day operation.
The boutique estate and restaurant is now widely acclaimed as one of the best in New Zealand.
Read More: Hans Herzog Winery
Nikki Lohitnavy – Winemaker at GranMonte Vineyard – Khao Yai, Thailand
Nikki is the first and only woman winemaker of Thailand. She is the General Manager and Oenologist and Winemaker of her family property, GranMonte, Asoke Valley since 2008. Graduated from the University of Adelaide in December 2008, she is the only scholar in history of University of Adelaide who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Oenology together with Honours in Viticulture. Her research was published in two respected scientific journals, Journal of Food Quality and Preference (UK) and Vitis (USA).
She returned home to the non-traditional grape-growing region of the ‘tropics’, the newest and most exciting wine region of the world. New winemaking innovations and techniques are adapted by Nikki on her vineyard and wines to further accelerate GranMonte and Thai wines to the highest international quality.
For her accomplishments, Nikki has recently been listed in Forbes’ Inaugural 30 Under 30 Asia (2016) alongside other “top promising young leaders, daring entrepreneurs and game changers” in the manufacturing and energy sector.
Nikki Lohitnavy does not only have winemaking experience in Thailand. She has worked and consulted in various wine regions around the globe bringing her tropical wine growing knowledge to the world.
Read More: GranMonte Vineyard