A discussion about wine during a blind date at King O’Malleys in Canberra 10 years ago sparked Sarah McDougall’s successful career in the wine industry. While Sarah remains passionate about winemaking, it’s her passion and expertise as a business owner that secured her nomination in this year’s Australian Women in Wine Awards.
Sarah is a finalist in the Owner/Operator category, recognising women who are not just producing wine, but running an entire business, from budgets and staffing to product development and sales.
“It’s very exciting to be nominated. I’m one of three finalists in this category and the competition will be hard to beat. They’re amazing women,” says Sarah.
A leader and innovator in the Canberra district wine scene, Sarah has been developing her Summerhill Road Vineyard at Bywong for the past six years. Last year she purchased Lake George Winery with the man she met on that blind date, now her husband, Anthony. Sarah, Anthony and their five children are enjoying life at the scenic Lake George vineyard.
“In the past 12 months, we’ve hand-harvested 50 tonnes of grapes and released a new range of red and white wines. I’ve launched a new brand to reflect the direction of the winery, refreshed the running of the cellar door and ramped up our communication and marketing. We also picked up a win for Best Cellar Door with Food with Gourmet Traveller Wine 2019”, says Sarah.
The Australian Women in Wine Awards acknowledges and rewards the work of women in the Australian wine community, and community leaders who champion equality and fairness for all sexes in the workplace.
“In the wine industry, about one-third of employees are women. These awards are not only about showcasing the achievements of women in the wine industry, but getting other women interested too. If you want to be a winemaker, you can. You can get your hands dirty, you can drive the truck, you can make the wine—so for me that’s really important too.
“This nomination is also about shining a light on the Canberra wine region. I’m the only one nominated in this region, so I feel I have the Canberra wine district on my shoulders, and it would be great for me to have a win.”
Sarah is a proud promoter of the region. As Secretary of the Canberra District Wine Industry Association, she actively supports the growing tourism scene.
Author: Alison Seale