Tell us about your career, and what got you to where you are today?
In my earlier career, I worked in international sales and marketing for various multinationals including Unilever ( FMCG); DeAgostini (publishing); and the world’s two largest toy companies Mattel and Hasbro, working on brand development of their Star Wars, Disney, and the Winnie the Pooh toy lines. Today, I am the Sales and Marketing Director of Te Mata Estate Winery where I am responsible for all sales and marketing functions and brand development across all markets and channels.
I also do a lot of industry work to benefit Hawke’s Bay and NZ wine industry. I currently serve as the Chair of Hawke’s Bay Winegrowers Association and am honoured to be on the Mayor’s Task Force for Economic Recovery in Hastings. I also lend my time to the New Zealand Winegrowers Marketing Committee and the China Wine Marketing program.
My boys are now at high school and I spend a lot of time with them to ensure they become men of good character. To this end, we do a lot of altruistic volunteer work for our local council, the local school, Women’s Refuge, and so on. I encourage them to have a social conscience and the giving of their time is a great way for them to realise this - I am immensely proud of them both.
Favourite place in NZ to visit and why?
Home! I love Hawke’s Bay. I live rurally, surrounded by vineyards and orchards with all the delights of the region on my doorstep. We have everything here, from beaches to culture, and there is no such thing as a traffic jam. With wonderful food and wine, coupled with our sunny Hawke’s Bay climate, it really is the perfect place to live.
What made you want to become part of the wine industry?
Who doesn’t want to work in the wine industry? Beautiful wineries, majestic views, culture, history, great people. All that and we haven’t even got to the wine yet.
But seriously, well before I made the move here, I was very aware of the impact that the New Zealand wine industry was making globally.
When I found myself lucky enough to be living in the industry’s backyard, I knew that it was where I wanted to put the skills and knowledge I had built up in my work in international sales and marketing, and it was where I could make a real contribution to realising the further potential of New Zealand wine. Now I’ve been doing this on a daily basis for nearly 14 years, and I still love it!
What do you love most about your job?
I love all aspects of my job. The biggest thrill though, is when I am able to open up a new country or market for Te Mata Estate. To get our wines in front of people who have previously not been able to access them is something that seems small, but it reaffirms to me that I’m continuing to effectively spread the message – for Te Mata and for the wider New Zealand wine community.
To you, what makes the NZ wine industry special / unique?
I don’t know that it is just one thing. I am constantly excited that such a young wine producing country can walk shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world. Wine is a product produced by the hard work of many people, across many disciplines, across many years. Excellent wines don’t happen by chance. For Te Mata Estate and New Zealand to be as revered they are across the globe is a testament to all the efforts of those people. They are fantastic.
What would you like to see more of in the NZ wine industry?
More hot sausage rolls in the smoko room. Once a week is not enough!!!
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
As a Sales and Marketing Director I have been lucky to travel to many wonderful countries, and sometimes my lack of language skills can make this challenging! I wish I’d listened more at school, as my Russian and Mandarin are just not up to scratch!
Do you think there are gender-specific challenges in winemaking? Do women have a harder time becoming successful/being taken seriously, or is that a thing of the past?
I personally have not seen this, but I came into wine at a point where I had already built substantial international professional experience that I could apply.
What would you say to women considering a career in wine?
Go for it! It’s an exciting and dynamic industry, with huge potential. Build your qualifications and get some great experience. It’s hard work but incredibly rewarding!
What is your favourite wine variety and why?
A tough question. I always tell people that wine is best enjoyed in the company of friends and I particularly enjoy a Hawke’s Bay chardonnay at the end of a long hot summer’s day, but if I had to name one variety or one wine, then it would be Te Mata Estate’s Coleraine. The Coleraine ‘19 was just awarded a ‘perfect’ 100 points by Sam Kim, of The Wine Orbit – you can’t argue with perfection!