Behind Every Epic #WinechickŠ—_ Rose Kentish

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The Australian Women in Wine Awards is focusing on making sure the conversation about diversity isn’t just with women.

“In fact, current stats show that women may not even be sitting around the ‘influence’ table in our wine businesses, so we need to make sure we extend the conversation to both genders, and work hard on improving unconscious bias,” says Corrina Wright of Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards. “To demonstrate how important this is, we have asked some talented #winechicks to tell us about who has stood behind them, and helped them get to where they are in their career.”

Following on from last week’s story about Melissa Brown, today Rose Kentish shares her story. Rose was the inaugural winner of the Australian Women in Wine Awards Winemaker of the Year last year. She owns Ulithorne Wines and makes wine here and in France. Mother of four. If you have a #heforshe story to tell, send a pic and some words in. We would love to hear and share your stories. Special thanks to Milton Wordley for suggesting this series.

Main Image: Rose Kentish with, from left: father-in-law Frank Harrison, husband Sam Harrison and father Malcolm Kentish.

Frank Harrison

Rose’s father in law, founded Ulithorne Vineyard with plantings in 1969. Radiologist. Retired.

“Frank and Judy Harrison bought the Ulithorne farm in the middle of the 1960s when it was normal to drive south from Hardy’s in Reynella to McLaren Vale and see not much but farms and a sprinkling of vineyards. Frank had an idea to build a piggery but to do so, he had to show that he would deal with the effluent in an environmentally responsible manner. He planted a 35-acre vineyard of Shiraz and Cabernet to support the piggery, but the piggery project was eventually rejected by the local council of the time. Frank and Judy moved back to the city as their three children (including my husband Sam) finished their senior school education, leaving the vineyard in frustration and disappointment. Sam and I bought the Ulithorne vineyard and its surrounding farming land in 1997 from Frank and Judy. This was a nerve-wrecking time, as the vineyard had minimal water (a bore that went dry in the summer time – which is the obvious time that water is often  needed!), and our offer to buy the vineyard only stood if we were able to drill a bore that successfully found good water. Frank agreed. We paced the verandah of the old Ulithorne cottage as the drillers went deep, finally finding water that would support the vineyard through any long hot summers. So we took out a massive loan for a young couple, bought the vineyard and began our dream. What I have learnt from Frank is profound – he is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful, funny and generous people I know.”

Sam Harrison

Rose’s husband. Artist, restorer and viticulturist.

“I met Sam at University when I was just turning 19! He had just returned home to Adelaide from travelling the world for two-and-a-half years, already having worked as a jackaroo in the Northern Territory and with a farm management degree under his belt from Orange Ag College in NSW. We had such a blast at Uni SA, both developing a love of wine and some life-long friendships. A year after Uni, we were married, and had our first daughter, Evie, a couple of years after that. He woke me in the middle of the night in 1997 and sold me the dream of buying the Ulithorne vineyard, learning to make wine, restoring his parents’ vineyard and raising our family on his childhood farm. His dream was infectious and pretty soon we were living there, had three more children (Lili, Orlo and Saxon), restored the old Ulithorne vineyard, extended the plantings by buying the neighbour’s farm, and in 2001, after having my third child and a number of vintages learning winemaking, I made my first commercial vintage of Ulithorne wines. While first and foremost an artist (he paints extraordinary landscapes, portraits and abstract works in oil on canvas), Sam is a very talented farmer, a passionate restorer of old buildings and an incredible cook. He takes immense care and pride in our four children, often the one to stay home and hold the fort while I am in France doing vintage or travelling somewhere around the world selling and supporting our wines. There is no way that I could work such long hours, with enormous flexibility in travel and time, without Sam’s full commitment to being an equal as parent and role in our home. Those who know him also know his love of surfing. Keen for the life of a hermit, many know just how hard it can be to get him out of our home, a 180-year-old flour mill, which doubles as our home and his studio, and an endless source of restoration projects.”

Malcolm Kentish

Rose’s father. Farmer with an entrepreneurial spirit. Retired.

“Throughout my childhood, my father worked from 7am to 7pm every day on our family farm in the south-east of South Australia. Yet every night we would all sit at the dining room table and talk about our days, the world, our family – no matter how exhausted he would have felt. My mum Jan and he experienced the highs and lows of farming, and made great sacrifices to send me and my three siblings to boarding school from Year 9 onwards. Their interest in teaching us to be self-sufficient, take risks and challenge ourselves even extended to me spending a year at school in the mountains of Victoria, where I learnt to run long distances, build fires, orienteer on long mountain hikes, in rain, snow and extreme heat, all while completing Year 9 school work. He has an engineer’s brain and an entrepreneurial spirit. As the youngest of four children, I have inherited his personal drive, positive outlook and entrepreneurship. I like to work hard and seem to be able to tolerate quite a high level of risk. Anyone who works in primary production will know exactly the challenges of farming! My parents have always shown me full support. They are still very connected to my business, our family and all its permeations. When we had our first child, a daughter, they both felt so happy that the next generation in our family would be headed by a woman. I thought a lot about that. They are both cup-half-full people, with a welcome home, a belief in people no matter their sex, and hold such a positive outlook for our family and its future generations.”

If you have a story to share please email us at hello@newstylemedia.com.au with the subject line ‘Women In Wine’.

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