Behind the Vine – by Femme Vine
Corrina Wright – Oliver’s Taranga – McLaren Vale, Australia
Interview transcipt by The Femme Vine – https://www.thefemmevine.com/
When do you think you fell in love with wine, enough to make a career of it?
My family has been on this property since 1839, and I’m the 6th generation working the land. There have always been vines on this property (traditionally we grew Shiraz, Grenache, and some Cabarnet Sauvignon), but before we were growing grapes for other people. I grew up around vineyards, worked in cellar doors as a summer and weekend job, but I thought I was going to be a commerce lawyer. I dropped the law bit, and then moved straight into winemaking. I pestered my grandfather and uncle for grapes and Oliver’s Taranga was born.
I was scared to make the decision to become a winemaker because there was definitely a ‘girls don’t go back onto the farm’ mentality, but I knew that wearing a suit and going into the office wasn’t going to be my path. I was a bit nervous about things like ‘would I have a good palette’, but growing up around a vineyard all my life, you don’t realise how much you absorb through osmosis. That really gave me a good base; from the types of vines we have through to culturally understanding all the systems.
What story does your wine tell?
Farm, family and friends.
Farm: My general winemaking philosophy is hands-off. I’m trying to represent this vineyard. We’re estate grown, we don’t buy fruit, so I’m trying to capture the vineyard.
Family: There’s definitely a thread of my family – an entrepreneurial spirit. We were the first to plant Chardonnay in the 70s, and that entrepreneurial thinking is in me. We are in a lucky spot for reds, they give us beautiful intense flavours, great tannins. But we’re also a coastal region – beaches, eating fish, so I started to look at Mediterranean varieties suited to warmer weather that can maintain their natural acidity like Fiano, Vermentino. They found a home here, because you can make a fresh white wine that works really well with our food.
Friends: This vineyard is born of many generations of my family working here and being a part of the community and part of the fabric of the region. And that’s what I’m trying to do. I want people to feel the connection. Our connection to the town and the region, but also how the industry supports the infrastructure and the community.
What misconceptions about wine do you think people should forget?
It’s funny, once we got asked to do a Ladies Only wine tasting event, and on that day, I had 4 or 5 women who came up to me and said “I would never have dreamt of trying another wine. My husband only buys me Chardonnay, and that’s the only wine I have”. Because I grew up being the person in wine, who gets the wine list at restaurants, I never had that experience. But wine can be a bit terrifying. I think people should experiment more. They should branch out and try different wines from other regions, or, support their local farmers and try wines in their region.
Also, people shouldn’t forget that winemakers are farmers. We aren’t heaps posher than anyone else. The reality is that we’ve still got to get dirty during harvest time, we’re up against Mother Nature and whatever she throws at us each year. It’s risky and pretty hard. We’re doing all of that work for something that will last for years and years. You’ve got to make those decisions in the moment, and then it’s there forever. People shouldn’t think that it’s too frou-frou. It’s agriculture.
What great things about wine do you think people should remember?
One of the great things about wine is the impact it has on regional communities. Wine isn’t contained in the cities. We’re often driving the community and jobs and wealth in the regional community.
And then, the great, great thing about wine is where it takes me. It’s such an exploration and representation of time and place. So in previous years when I’ve gotten to be all over the world – Italy, America, China – wine really lets you step into a new place and find like-minded people and soak up what they can tell you and teach you. It’s always different, you’ll always learn something new.
What is a piece of advice you would give to a woman interested in breaking into the wine world?
Have a thick skin and just do it, please. We’re desperate for you!
Who is a woman that inspired you?
Anyone who is having a crack inspires me! There are far too many to name just one.
There have been a lot of women who paved the way for us in Australia: Mary Penfold back in the olden days, and Pam Dunsford – the first female winemaker to study winemaking in Australia.
Being a part of the Women in Wine awards in Australia, I get to see what a lot of talented women are doing. There’s Louisa Rose at Yalumba, Vanya Cullen at Cullen Wines, Virginia Willcock at Vasse Felix. Kate Goodman, Sarah Crowe, Sam Connew. All are amazing women.
Where can women find your wine?
You can buy directly on our site (we ship internationally). Within Australia, you can find some of our wines in bigger retailers as well.
In the UK, you can find us at Wanderlust Wines.