Women at Work: Jamie Crowe | HerCanberra

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Women at Work: Jamie Crowe

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She may be one of their chief winemakers now, but when she was growing up, Jaime Crowe never thought she’d end up working at her parents’ winery.

During the summer holidays, Suzanne and Graeme Lunney would often ask their daughter to help them at Four Winds Vineyard, in Murrumbateman, but picking grapes in 40 degree heat wasn’t her idea of a good time.

“I was completely deterred from the family business at the time, because it was a pretty exhausting job,” laughs Jaime.

That all changed when Jaime enrolled in an oenology course and began to learn the science behind wine.

She then undertook an internship in winemaking in California’s Napa Valley, where she met her husband Bill, and eventually the couple were drawn back to the family business in 2009.

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Jaime and Bill are now the winemakers behind Four Winds, while Jaime’s sister and her husband act as managers.

The winery, which sits on a 33-acre property, opened in 1998 and now sells wine to around 10 businesses throughout Canberra. It recently expanded to include events and functions in the space.

Jaime, who also studied forensic biology and pathology, says she loves the science behind winemaking.

“It’s not just about fermenting a bunch of grapes, it’s a very precise process. You’ve got to consider the agriculture and the temperature to make sure it’s just right and I think it’s really interesting to work with something that’s alive and active,” she says.

Jaime says a typical day at the winery during “vintage” — when the grapes begin to grow — starts at 7am.

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“We will do our checks, which is measuring the sugar content of the wine, and we monitor that sometimes twice daily, particularly the reds which go through a more active ferment,” she says.

“We check the temperatures of the wine to make sure it’s not going to be too hot or cold. If it’s too cold it starts stressing out the yeasts. I usually do all the additions or chemical analysis, that’s the part I love most.”

Jaime and Bill hand-prune each of the winery’s 29,000 vines each year and grow Shiraz, Riesling, Cabernet, Merlot and Sangiovese. Does she have a favourite?

“It’s hard to say because it changes all the time, but I do like a good Riesling or Rosé,” Jaime says.

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Although she adds she’s missing out on trying all the wines she usually would — she and Bill are expecting their second child in May.

“It means I’m not much help out at the vineyard at the moment, so I’m looking forward to getting back into it,” she says.

“This vintage has been our biggest yet, we’ve processed close to 60 tonnes — we’re in the stage that all our hard work in the beginning is starting to pay off.”

Four Winds Vineyard, with Collector Wines and Eden Road Wines, have taken four-tonnes of surplus Shiraz grapes and will turn them into wine to raise funds for Canberra’s Companion House, which provides support to asylum seekers and refugees living in Canberra. There will be approximately 200 cases of wine that is available to purchase now for $200 a case, $174 from each case will go to Companion house. The wineries will donate the grapes, winemaking and bottling machinery needed for the project while $26 a case will go to covering costs such as bottles, labels, cartons and postage. The wine will be completed and sent to supporters by November this year.

More details can be found here and you can purchase the wine online here

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