More women judging the New World wine awards than ever before video

Janan Jay/STUFF

Three female wine judges give their views on women in the industry.

More women than ever are involved in tasting the best wine in the country at this year's New World Wine Awards,  with five female judges among the 16-strong panel.

Australia's first female master of wine and senior winemaker at Helen & Joey Estate, Meg Brodtmann says it's great to see more women involved. 

At the first tasting of this year's wine awards in Wellington today, judges sampled a record 454 submissions, mostly from Marlborough. Brodtmann put the increase in women judges down to a change in attitudes and Kiwi work ethic.    

"I think we are just not afraid to speak now. It's a boy's club, but it's not like the boys are anti-women by any stretch of the imagination. It's just that it's been a male dominated industry fundamentally because it's quite psychical.

Dr Rebecca Deed says she sees 'a lot of young women in the Wine Science Programme getting really into wine'.
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Dr Rebecca Deed says she sees 'a lot of young women in the Wine Science Programme getting really into wine'.

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"I think what's changed is women's attitudes and [they're] putting their hands up now. [It's] that 'lean in' mentality we haven't had for a long time and we're actually leaning in and saying 'yeah, we've got a voice... and we should be heard'.   

"I returned home after years of travelling overseas. For six years [I was] based in the UK but making wines all over Europe and moved to Chile where I worked as a winemaker. 

"I'm married to a Kiwi winemaker and whenever we turn up [in New Zealand] I'm increasingly impressed by the number of [Kiwi] women and also the number of Kiwi women in the Australian industry... it's really interesting to see. 

"We have strong, kick-ass women coming over and doing vintage... I have to say Kiwis are very well renowned in the industry. 

Meg Brodtmann credits the rise in female judges to a change in attitudes.
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Meg Brodtmann credits the rise in female judges to a change in attitudes.

"[The Kiwi] women I've employed have been amazing." 

Appearing for the first time as a senior judge, Dr Rebecca Deed is a lecturer at University of Auckland's Wine Science Programme.  

Her time as a research fellow focused on the development of new yeast strains for the wine industry, and she believes women are advancing, both in and outside of academia. 

"I see a lot of young women in the Wine Science Programme getting really into wine. I think it's definitely a trend."

"I know that New Zealand is really trying to promote women in the industry. There's a new initiative in Marlborough, a women and wine group and they're going to have their first meeting during the Bragato [a large winemaker conference] this year.

"I know women in wine [making] here is quite strong compared to other countries."  

Winemaker Jane Cooper says things are looking bright for the country's female winemakers.
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Winemaker Jane Cooper says things are looking bright for the country's female winemakers.

An experienced winemaker with 25 years of international experience and her own wine label, Alexia, under her belt, Jane Cooper agrees things are looking bright for the country's female winemakers. 

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"I do think New Zealand's really progressive, it's really an industry here where you can succeed. It doesn't matter whether if you're a man or a woman. 

"There's a lot of women in wineries now, in all facets of wine production and the wine business. General management, marketing, sales. Everything.  

This year's New World Wine Awards sees judges taste 1,400 different wines.
Simeon Patience

This year's New World Wine Awards sees judges taste 1,400 different wines.

"It's been a trend for a number of years now. It's not 50-50 in the judging room, but I think we're getting there.  

For aspiring wine wannabes everywhere, the panellist's message is unanimous. Women should just go for it. 

"Just be confident," says Cooper, "put yourself forward".

"If you've got the skills and the ability, there's no reason you can't do it."  

The New World Wine awards are being judged in Wellington this week. The winners will be revealed online in October. 

 - Stuff

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