Southpoint Teaser Masthead

Epic women winemakers

Emma Macdonald

Women may be avowed wine-consumers, but only recently have they been receiving recognition as wine producers.

Four Winds Vineyard owner Sarah Collingwood has been shortlisted by the industry’s most prominent female industry award – the Australian Women in Wine Awards.

Four Winds Vineyard is a micro-winery located in Murrumbateman, producing a selection of award-winning wines. Sarah is a finalist in the Owner/Operator of the Year award – sponsored by James Halliday.  She stands alongside Eliza Brown from Brown Brothers, Jenny Semmler from 919 Wines and Kim Tyrer from Galafrey Wines.

Sarah said she was beyond thrilled to be shortlisted alongside other accomplished women in the industry.

But it is not the only excitement she has experienced this year with the Four Winds 2015 shiraz scooping a pool of awards including three gold medals – from the Sydney Royal Wine Show, the Canberra Region Wine Show and the NSW Wine Show.

Sarah is one of the co-owners of Four Winds Vineyard with her husband John and parents Suzanne and Graeme Lunney.


While she followed her parents into the industry, Sarah said it had offered her a wonderful career path.

Admittedly, laying out vineyards in winter had its moments, but having an office that overlooked hundreds of rows happy and award-winning grapes had certain charms. There were also advantages to working with her husband and parents while raising two small children.

“I think I have a pretty good lifestyle; it all seems to fit together really well,” she says.

In its second year, the awards have expanded to include six award fields including winemaker and viticulturist of the year.

AWIWA Advisory Board member, wine writer, and long-time advocate for women in wine Jeni Port, said she found it heartening to see such an outstanding response from across Australia.

“The number of entrants has increased considerably from last year,” explains Jeni. “We have had entries from those working in big wine companies and small, in isolated regions and wine areas that roll a little easier off the tongue, then there have been those contributing to truly world-class research and science that places Australia at the forefront of international wine knowledge and, importantly those women — and men – actively striving for gender equality and fairness in the workplace.”

Sarah said that the traditional male-domination of the wine industry was starting to change.

“It’s a big ship to turn but I feel it is slowly turning.”

She cited the announcement in August of Sarah Crowe as the first woman to be anointed by James Halliday as Winemaker of the Year as a significant step forward.

“Women do things differently to men and traditionally they have not received much recognition in the wine world. It is good that that is starting to change, not only so capable women get the recognition they deserve but they can also provide role models for young women coming up through the ranks.

“Honestly, I am just stoked to be a finalist.”

Winners will be announced via live stream on November 15.

A celebratory evening will be held at Avenue C, where a number of female winemakers will pour their wines for tasting. Tickets, at $20 a head, can be booked here.


Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author