Wednesday, 17 April 2024 14:25

Point of View: Home truths from the Chair of New Zealand Women in Wine

Written by  Jo Cribb
Jo Cribb Jo Cribb

OPINION: “I’m a woman and I’m in wine. Why do we need Women in Wine?” I was asked this great question recently.

Her colleague joined in: “Yeah, there are loads of ponytails driving tractors on vineyards now. Why do women need a separate group?” His question might be one you have asked yourself. We have much to celebrate in that women are succeeding and making an increasingly important contribution to our industry. Our industry needs the best, most skilled and motivated people and gender shouldn’t get in the way.

But research shows that it does. Seven hundred industry people responded to the New Zealand Winegrowers ‘Our People Survey’ in 2019. It reported that 55% of women reported being shut out of opportunities by ‘old boys’ networks’ as a barrier to their career progression (compared with 27% of men). Childcare and maternity provisions were another barrier for 31% of women (only 11% of men).

Perhaps this starts to explain why women held only 38% of senior roles (board members, chief executives, senior management, and chief roles) despite having the same levels of career ambition as their male colleagues. Worryingly, 40% of women respondents said they had experienced gender-based discrimination (5% of men) and 30% of women had experienced sexual harassment at work (4% of men).

While survey participants acknowledged that discrimination based on gender has reduced over time, it’s still an on-going problem. This data didn’t paint a picture of a modern, attractive workplace, nor of an industry getting the best out of all its people. That’s why there is New Zealand Women in Wine: to support women to progress their careers, and their employers to attract and retain the best and the brightest without barriers based on gender.

The National Steering Group for Women and Wine met recently to plan for the upcoming year. I am lucky enough to chair this group. We confirmed the three goals of the programme: Connect, Inform and Change. Women are often in workplaces with only a handful of other women. The Connect goal aims to create a community of women in wine, and their supportive colleagues, at the regional and national level and online. The Inform goal is about sharing relevant information and evidence, with a focus on supporting women to develop their careers. Actions under the Change goal aim to support organisations to ensure women thrive at their workplace.

These are our priorities for 2024/25:


Regional committees will continue to provide opportunities for networking. Nationally, there will be space for women in wine conversations at future industry celebrations and events. We will also aim to build our presence on social media.


The well-regarded mentoring programme contributes to all three goals and will continue to support the development of a cohort of women in wine each year. Along with that, we will provide a women’s development series of online, bite-sized sessions on relevant topics identified by the steering group.


New Zealand Women in Wine aims to undertake a similar survey to the 2019 ‘Our People’ report to track industry progress towards being a modern, inclusive employer. We will also share updated industry gender pay gap data.

I’m sure we’d all drink to that.

More like this

Point of View

Pernod Ricard Winemakers Environmental & Sustainability Director Alex Kahl asks whether winegrowers have considered the impact of traditional viticulture on a vineyard’s soil health and long-term sustainability.

Wine to the People

Nestled in the heart of Marlborough’s wine industry, with the likes of Dog Point, Te Whare Ra and Greywacke on its doorstep, Arbour has spent the past nine years delivering extraordinary dishes and a carefully curated selection of wines. Awarded Two Hats by the Cuisine Good Food Awards, which also named it Best Regional Restaurant in New Zealand in 2022, Arbour has attracted the devotion of many in New Zealand’s wine industry. Cofounder and owner Liz Buttimore talks of a labour of love.

Jo Burzynska: multisensory explorer

Dr Jo Burzynska’s senses must cheer loudly when she falls asleep each night, for that’s the only time they get a break from their heavy workload.

The Profile: Chris Scott

Chris Scott was driven by boredom when he picked up his dad’s copy of the Cuisine New Zealand Wine Annual in the 1990s.

» Latest Print Issues Online

Popular Reads

Sustainability Success

Taking two sustainability awards at two events on a single evening felt like "true recognition" of the work Lawson's Dry…

Stellar support for Cropsy

New Zealand-based agritech startup Cropsy Technologies has raised $1.7 million in an extended and oversubscribed capital raise, including support from…

H2Ortigator - the plant babysitter

A New Zealand startup is offering a novel approach to irrigation and nutrition management, specifically designed to optimise the growth…