Lisa Bray, Burnbrae Wines

How does an agent for a Japanese reinsurance agency become a wine maker out in Mudgee in central New South Wales? This is Lisa Bray’s fabulous story.


When, why and how did you first enter the wine industry?

Whilst travelling throughout Europe, I always seemed to be drawn to wine producing regions and was intrigued by the winemaking process. Upon returning to my home town of Sydney in 1999, I decided it was now or never and resigned from my job with a Japanese reinsurance company.

Shortly afterwards I enrolled in an oenology degree. It certainly was challenging to embark on a totally new career path, but it was worth it.

Where has your career taken you so far?

I have been fortunate enough to have completed vintages in Germany, New Zealand and Turkey as well as the Hunter Valley during my winemaking career.

All have been interesting and rewarding experiences both professionally and personally and I am now loving being back in Mudgee and making some award winning wines!!

How long have you been with Burnbrae and what attracted you to work there?

I started with Burnbrae in July 2012. I was attracted to the company as I wanted to work for a small, boutique winery that is family owned and produces hand crafted wines.


What’s the winemaking philosophy at Burnbrae?

To produce quality wines that are expressive of regionality and the vineyard site.

What wines do you currently produce? And how and where can people find them?

Burnbrae offers a fairly extensive range of white and red wine, including a sparkling Shiraz and fortified wines. They can be accessed via the Burnbrae website and also through Wine Odyssey in The Rocks, Sydney and various regional retail outlets.

Do you have a current favourite amongst the wines you make?

I am enjoying our newly released 2013 Chardonnay which is quite an expressive wine with fine, elegant characters. I am also partial to the 2012 Shiraz which is a complex and interesting wine.

You’ve travelled the world as a winemaker. How does Mudgee compare?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my winemaking experiences overseas and have met some wonderful people but Mudgee is a pretty special place.

As well as having quite a diverse and rich winemaking history, it is a town that is constantly evolving with a strong community spirit.

Why did you return again to Mudgee in 2012 specifically to work with organic and preservative free wines? What’s special about these types of wines?

It is definitely an interest of my mine as I believe that there are some really good organic and preservative free wines emanating from the Mudgee region. These wines are a true expression of the vineyard.

What is your absolute favourite wine and food pairing?

Riesling with salt and pepper prawns. Preferably overlooking the ocean! Takes me back to my former life on the northern beaches of Sydney.

As a woman working in the wine industry, have you faced any particular challenges where your gender has ever been an issue?

I think that there are more women coming into the wine industry these days which is great. I find that if you just get on with it and work hard, it is a great leveller.

What’s your number one wine tasting tip?

Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to offer an opinion.

If there was one thing you could tell the sisterhood of wine-lovers out there, what would it be?

To try as many different varieties and styles as you can…..and then enjoy sharing them with friends and family.

Burnbrae Wines are one of our Fabulous Wine Producers. Read the Burnbrae Wines story.