Emma Raidis is the co-owner of Raidis Estate in Coonawarra. She’s fast getting a reputation not only for her incredible wines, but also for her sassy style and shake-it-up approach in what it is one of this country’s most traditional wine growing areas. And her business is going from strength to strength. Here’s her fabulous story.
When, why and how did you first enter the wine industry?
It was when I met my husband, Steven. I used to come down on weekends from Adelaide to help in his family’s vineyard so we could spend more time together and it grew from there. There wasn’t a wine brand at that time – just the vineyards – and when I moved to Coonawarra I sort of just found myself in the industry. In 2009 we launched Raidis Estate and opened our cellar door and now I can’t believe I ever did anything else.
Where has your career taken you so far?
It has taken me all over Australia and to the UK. We also export to USA and some parts of Asia, but my areas are UK and Europe.
What is the philosophy behind Raidis Estate?
We reckon most things in life are better when they’re shared. At our place, that’s done over the table – loaded with backyard produce, a bottle or two of good wine and surrounded by family and friends.
We believe strongly that great wine comes from the work done in the vineyard. We cane prune by hand, shoot and grape thin if needed and spend a lot of time in our vineyards making sure we get the best fruit, because the best fruit makes the best wine!
What grape varieties do you make wine from at Raidis Estate? And where are they sourced from?
We have two vineyards and all of our fruit is Estate grown. Our two sites feature both the young and the old; regional classics Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot along with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris.
Through the winter months, the vines share our land with a small trip of goats who maintain the rows, doing their bit to contribute to our micro-climate. Sustainability is very important to us, and the goats are a very important part of this.
What are your personal favourites from those you produce, and why?
For anyone that knows me, there is no possible way I could ever decide a favourite wine. It depends so much on the day, the vibe, my mood, the location, the food… the list goes on!
All of our wines are great, but if I had to name a go to, probably The Kid Riesling and Billy Cabernet Sauvignon. I love Asian food so the Riesling is often best for that. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the prettiest grapes going around. When young Cabernet is pretty and vibrant, and no other variety ages as well as is does – absolutely brilliant! The Cheeky Goat is a trail blazer, we are the only ones who make one in our region, it is round and luscious – the most versatile wine we have. Oh, and Kefi – the wine we make with our customers, vibrant and delicious – it is the ultimate pizza wine!
Did I mention I find it hard to chose?
Within the business – what’s a typical day like for you?
Typically – I don’t have a typical day… In my role I wear many hats, in any given work week I could be working in the vineyard, the winery, in the cellar door, facilitating compliance for an export order, on the road making sales calls, talking with media, doing accounts, logistics, sales, marketing and event planning.
I do have an ideal work week which is usually:
- Monday – Marketing & ad hoc anything
- Tuesday – Finance & website updates
- Wednesday – Sales calls
- Thursday – Sales visits
- Friday – day off
- Saturday – day off
- Sunday – Cellar door, finance & promo if not too busy
What is your absolute favourite wine and food pairing? And what should we keep in mind when matching food and wine?
I have many! This is also hard for me to choose…While I love the finer foods in life, it is known that I much prefer simple food done well. My favourite foods:
- Beef Burger – Cabernet Sauvignon, or any great medium bodied red!
- Bahn Mi – Riesling
- Pizza – All good medium bodied reds
As a woman working in the wine industry, have you faced any particular challenges where your gender has ever been an issue?
Nothing too overt. My business partner is also my husband, and he is a massive feminist. We are 50/50 in every way – business wise and parenting. I am very lucky, it is not the same for many.
Steven and I make all wine making decisions together, but it is annoying to me and amusing to him that in many conversations (with customers) it is always assumed he is the winemaker because he’s the man. We always set them straight but it is odd. Things are changing, slowly.
In your experience, do women think about or talk about wine differently than blokes do?
I can’t really comment on how a bloke thinks… I feel that would be just as bad as a bloke commenting on what I think – oh hell no! But of course women talk differently to men – about everything!
What’s your number one tip for tasting wine?
My number one tip for tasting wine is to remember it is a drink – enjoy it. If you want to learn more, think about it and savour it, and taste with or without food. It really does make a difference. That said if you don’t want to learn about wine, that’s cool too.