Jane Thomson, The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society
Although we’ve happily reached a stage where equal numbers of women and men are graduating from viticulture and winemaking, retaining women in the Australian wine industry is another story entirely. Currently, participation rates in winemaking and viticulture are at just under 10 percent and – even more worryingly – in decline.
Most think that to increase the number of women in wine we need to work harder at attracting women into the industry. The reality is, we have little trouble attracting them, it’s keeping and supporting women in their long-term wine career that’s the challenge.
What’s going on? Why are they leaving?
This year the 2018 Australian Women in Wine Awards wants to raise industry awareness of this significant retention issue, as once again we strive to champion and celebrate the work of Australian women in wine.
In this series, some previous winners highlight challenges they have faced, what’s kept them in their careers, and what they’d like to see more of to assist women to achieve their career potential in wine.
WBM – Australia’s Wine Business Magazine is a proud sponsor of the awards. In this series, some previous winners highlight challenges they have faced, what’s kept them in their careers, and what they’d like to see more of to assist women to achieve their career potential in wine.
Jasmine Morgan, Caudo Vineyard
Winner 2017 ‘Cellar Door Person of the Year’
What attracted you into the wine industry?
Initially, I was on the path to become an architect. Out of high school I took a gap year to save some money so I could move to Adelaide for study. I worked at a local winery as a cellar hand doing everything from cleaning tanks to transfers, additives and racking. I was a complete newbie to the world of wine and learnt from the winemakers and experienced cellar hands about the science of winemaking. I studied a Bachelor of Architecture for a couple of years but spent my afternoons at the Adelaide National Wine Centre, completing a couple of short wine appreciation courses for my own interest. I found the industry of wine a lot more attractive and certainly more enjoyable as my palate grew a taste. Despite having good grades in Architecture, my heart was set on wine and I dropped out of my degree to follow a job opportunity in the wine direction. Best decision ever!
How many years have you been working in the industry? And did you have any other careers before that? If so, for how long?
I’ve been in wine for five years as cellar door manager at Caudo Vineyard in the Riverland. My role focuses on sales, events and marketing; however, I am not just restricted to the cellar door. I have, on the odd occasion, flaunted the high-vis orange in the vineyard pruning vines and driving tractors for harvest. I’ve dipped my toes in a few different areas of wine from crushing grapes to polishing glassware. I never get bored, that’s for sure.
What do you think are some of the innate challenges women may face in this industry that make staying in their wine career difficult?
The fact that the Australia wine industry is male dominated is already a confronting factor for women. Women will question their career potential if they lack confidence in the industry or don’t see their role evolving and advancing to make room for them.
Have you personally faced any career challenges that have made you think about leaving?
I’ve been challenged and thrown in the deep in constantly but not in a way that has made me want to leave the industry. Life isn’t always smooth sailing and I’m sure I am going to encounter some challenges in my future career. I think if you love what you are doing then you are in the right career path and that’s essential for long term happiness and success in the workplace.
What do you think has helped you stay and progress in your career?
I have my employers to thank largely. The Caudo family took me under their wing from day one. I have embraced their knowledge and wisdom when it comes to business, management and sales. They constantly push me out of my comfort zone, challenge me to be better and provide exciting opportunities that build my wine knowledge, skills and career. No course or degree could have better prepared me for the wine industry than the experience I have gained from Caudo Vineyard.
What practical steps do you think employers and the industry at large could take to retain more women?
Employers that provide the right foundation of knowledge and support, ongoing challenging experiences and sufficient advancement will keep women engaged and fulfilled in their work. I certainly think the opportunities are out there for women in wine to succeed along with the right encouragement from the industry. Acknowledging and celebrating successful women in the industry creates a positive culture and inspires other women.
Jane Thomson is the founder of the Australian Women in Wine Awards. There’s only two weeks until entries close on Tuesday 18 September. The announcement of all the winners will occur at Australia’s first Women in Wine Symposium & Awards Day on Friday 16 November in Sydney. For full info and tickets click here