Sarah Crowe has become the first woman to receive one of the wine industry’s highest honours, named Winemaker of the Year 2017 by Australia’s most respected wine writer and critic, James Halliday at the QANTAS epiQure Halliday Wine Companion Awards in Melbourne on Wednesday, 3 August 2016.
Her achievement is remarkable for more than one reason as it comes within just three years of her taking the helm at Yarra Yering in the Yarra Valley, after 12 years working – predominantly for Brokenwood – in the Hunter Valley.
Mr. Halliday said, “She has done a fabulous job with what was her first full vintage. Just an amazing, amazing job.And she made a wine I always thought was impossible – a Shiraz Pinot Noir in the Yarra Valley. She was the very first to do it and it’s just a beautiful wine. A marriage made in heaven.”
Two of Sarah’s Yarra Yering vintage red wines receiving 99 points and four vintage red wines received 98 out of a possible 100 points, including the 2015 Light Dry Red Pinot Noir Shiraz.
While Sarah will now forever be known as the first woman to win this prestigious award, when asked whether she had faced any difficulties in her career because of her gender her answer was both positive and tentative.
“Not that I know of for sure,” she said. “But I think I’ve been one of the lucky ones. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that most of my experience has been with Brokenwood, where it didn’t seem to matter. Of course, I hear plenty of stories from many of my colleagues and peers who haven’t been so lucky.”
“What I do experience regularly at dinners and wine tasting events are people reacting with surprise that I’m the winemaker. That’s even after I’ve been talking in detail with them about the wines for more than 10 minutes! As long as people continue to be amazed that I can make wine just because I have a vagina then I know it is still an issue.”
While the Halliday Winemaker of the Year Award is clearly about Sarah’s winemaking ability she says that she is more than happy to get recognition as the first woman to win the award if it helps inspire others.
“If this encourages just one woman in the industry to continue to fight her way toward her dream, then all this media attention will have been worthwhile!”