Nicole Samodol – Rowlee Wines

While producing quality wines from her family vineyards in the Orange region of NSW is Nicole Samodol’s great passion, it may just be that Nebbiolo is her true love! Read her fabulous story. 


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

My early experiences were working in Melbourne’s leading restaurants and hotels, at which time I became a member of a fledgling Victorian Sommeliers Association. This was a great way to build my knowledge and understanding of wine.  Through the Sommeliers I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the world of wine and develop a serious passion for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Where has your career taken you so far?

They say variety is the spice of life and that’s definitely true when it comes to my career. The early part of my career was in hospitality and tourism. I gained experience both front and back of house allowing me to learn about the relationship between food and wine.

Since establishing Rowlee I completed an MBA and balanced a career in the corporate world with our family wine business. Working at a senior level in one of Australia’s top ten companies has given me the skills to turn a passion for wine into a viable business.

I am always keen to learn more and recently commenced studies in wine science.

You are the Director at Rowlee Wines. Can you tell us the story of why, when and how this happened?   

We are a family business and my parents, Nik and Deonne really did all the hard work establishing the vineyard while I was in Sydney pursuing a corporate career. I have been involved along the way however it was the establishment of the wine label four years ago when I became more hands on in the running of the business.

The next generation of Rowlee includes my partner James and his unwavering commitment to perfection is helping take our wines to the next level!

What is the philosophy behind Rowlee Wines?

We have an extraordinary site. We started with a blank canvas, planted the varieties we love and make wine that reflects our unique location in the Orange Wine Region. We are obsessive about our vineyard and give it some some serious TLC. 

We harvest by hand and make limited quantities of each variety so that only the best possible fruit is used.  

What grape varieties do you make wine from at Rowlee Wines? And where are they sourced from?

We are a boutique single vineyard producer so all our grapes come from the vineyard here at Rowlee. The vineyard is located 930 meters above sea level in the ancient volcanic soils of Mount Canobolas.

Being a cool climate vineyard we focus on aromatic varieties such Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Of course our red wine grapes are Pinot Noir!

More recently we added Arneis and Nebbiolo. These two varieties originate from Piedmont in the north west of Italy, with similar soil, climate and altitude.

What are your personal favourites from those you produce, and why?

Different varieties engage me at different times. The wine critic, Jancis Robinson puts Nebbiolo a close second to Pinot Noir as the world’s most tantalising grape and I’d happily agree with her. The best thing about Nebbiolo is the intense aromas…think roses, violets and liquorice as well as its versatility as both a young and mature wine.

Within the business – what’s a typical day like for you?

I try to spend as much time as possible with our customers. We are currently working on a new website and point of sale system so customer input and feedback is really important to make sure we create a great experience whether at the cellar door or online.

When I’m not with customers I’m collaborating with our team here at Rowlee and the people connected to our business.

How does your overseas experience translate to your day to day work?

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Californian wineries of Napa and Sonoma. Many of the boutique wine businesses I visited had a similar philosophy to ours, an unwavering commitment to delighting their customers. This is something I am trying to emulate at Rowlee.

What is your absolute favourite wine and food pairing? And what should we keep in mind when matching food and wine?  

Nebbiolo is the quintessential truffle wine so a dish of risotto with truffle and parmesan is definitely top of my list. The best part about risotto is that you have one hand free for the wine glass while you stir!

The most flexible wines have good acidity – this is what gives the wine its cleansing property. A great example of this is Riesling with Asian dishes.

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

Having spent a number of years in the corporate world I have worked for organisations that set targets for female participation in leadership roles and actively track and monitor this. I definitely think this is worthwhile at an industry level to create the right balance, representation and behaviours.

We are very fortunate that the Orange Wine Region has some great female wine talent. I am particularly excited about the next generation of female winemakers in our Region.

In your experience, do women think about or talk about wine differently than blokes do?

Sipping a glass of wine with friends is one of life’s great pleasures. I think that’s universal to women and men.

What’s your number one tip for tasting wine?  

There are just four simple steps – look, smell, taste and conclude. It’s easy to remember and helps you assess the wine and most importantly make a decision about whether you liked the wine or not.  Of course the best place to do this is at a cellar door!

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

Back yourself. Don’t worry about being less than perfect in your assessment of the wine, have the courage to share your thoughts about the wine you taste.