Oliver Styles spoke to owner and founder of Domaine Dujac, Jenny Dobson. Here's what he found out.
Established last year, the mentoring programme matched eight younger members of the New Zealand wine industry with eight women who have been a part of it for a number of years. The goal was to provide ambitious women with a skill set to help them move forward confidently.
Jane Hunter, owner of Hunter’s Wines, says her own introduction to the world of wine management, was the reason she applied to be a mentor.
“I have had a number of mentors and I certainly wouldn’t have got over my rocky, unexpected launch into the management of the wine industry if I hadn’t had some mentors to help me along.”
Admitting to being a “little apprehensive” at the beginning, she said she was pleasantly surprised to find that she got as much if not more out of the programme as her mentee.
“It was so uplifting to see the enthusiasm and energy that a younger person has for the industry. You have to think; ‘oh well the future’s going to be in good hands.’”
Priscila Muir saw the opportunity to be a mentor as a challenge – “something outside of my comfort zone that I thought it would be great to be a part of.”
As the quality assurance manager for Indevin in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, she also saw the opportunity to offer mentoring to a field of the industry that often isn’t in the spotlight.
“You always think about wine makers or wine growers, or marketing people when you talk about the wine industry. I know so many people who are cellar, QA or lab, who don’t feel comfortable of taking this extra step of wanting to be involved, so I wanted to give it a go.”
Like Jane, she also found she got much more from the programme than she had expected.
“It is a two-way experience. It’s easy to think that the mentor will just be giving, but they get so much as well. It is a learning situation for both of us.”
As for the mentees, both Kat Jackson (assistant vineyard manager Chard Farm) and Sophie Harris (winemaker Te Awanga), their goals before the programme began, were reached and surpassed.
Jackson says she was hoping the programme would help provide some guidance on improving her management skills, from someone who had been there and done that in the past.
“I was keen to learn how to deal and work with other people, so that it works for everyone.”
She says her greatest take away from the programme was; “To keep your head up, there are people who have been there before you and there will be people after you as well. So support each other in that. You are not the only person out there and you are not on your own.”
Harris was wanting to branch out and form more connections within the wine industry. She certainly has achieved that via the mentoring programme. In her very first session, she mentioned to her mentor that she was keen on getting into wine judging. Mentor Kate Radburnd took up that idea very quickly.
“She is heavily involved in that side of things, so it meant I got the opportunity to be an associate judge at the NZ Wine of the Year Awards which was great.”
It opened up her horizons and also provided her with contact with a vast number of industry personnel. This year she is already booked in to be an associate judge at the Royal Easter Show.
For her, Harris says, she has gained in confidence, not only for herself, but also for those steeped within the industry.
“I am more confident that a lot of people in the wine industry who have been here longer, are willing to help and give their time and expertise. Most of them want to help you on your way.”
The 2019 Women in Wine Mentoring Programme is currently open for applications, both for those wishing to mentor, and those wishing to be a mentee. They close on February 10.
Applications are online www.nzwine.com/en/contact-us/our-communities/women-in-wine-nz/mentoringprogramme
Any woman, working in any role in the wine industry and whose company or organisation is a member of NZ Winegrowers, can apply. If they don’t have a personal login to the members’ site, there will be a button to click to get one. They just need to provide details of where they work. The plan is to open up the programme to both men and women in the future.