Group to support advancement in wine industry

Central Otago Winegrowers Association executive officer Natalie Wilson (right) and Central Otago...
Central Otago Winegrowers Association executive officer Natalie Wilson (right) and Central Otago vineyard owners (from left) Kirstin Wright, of Three Miners, Kerry Stainton-Herbert, of Stewart Town, Cheryll Sanders, of Charcoal Gully, Janiene Bayliss, of Ata Mara and Mary Zurakowski, of Archangel, relax at Wooing Tree Estate, at Cromwell, as they celebrate the formation of the Central Otago ``Women in Wine'' group. PHOTO: PAM JONES
A Central Otago "Women in Wine'' group that is one of the first in the country will hopefully result in more women entering board or executive positions in the wine sector, those behind the initiative say.

It would also provide a valuable platform for a range of initiatives and professional support, including mentoring and information sharing, founder Janiene Bayliss, of Ata Mara vineyard, said.

It would also operate as an advocacy group.

Ms Bayliss had the idea for a "Women in Wine'' group about 12 months ago after noticing how many women were involved in the Central Otago industry.

New Zealand Winegrowers also strongly supported the concept, having launched its own Women in Wine strategy last August and appointed a national co-ordinator, chief executive Phillip Gregan said.

He said the Central Otago group was one of the first to be established nationally, and would hopefully form part of a national push to get more women entering board or executive positions in the industry.

"Forty-six percent of the workforce in the wine industry is female. We want to see those women put up their hands for senior roles in the industry.''

The Central Otago group already had 175 members and membership was expected to increase to more than 200, Ms Bayliss said.

It illustrated the strong presence of women in the Central Otago wine industry, whether through ownership, winemaking or other vineyard and winery roles, she said.

Women were involved in ownership of 103 of about 120 vineyards in the Central Otago Winegrowers Association area - comprised of Central Otago and the Queenstown-Lakes region - Ms Bayliss said.

Of that number, nine were owned outright by women.

There were also 18 female winemakers in the region, and "a lot of young talent coming up'', she said.

It was vital women saw the wine sector as a career option and were exposed to and could share in the success of those in the Central Otago industry.

Many of those in the industry had come from other successful careers, but they could then become geographically isolated, "tied to'' their vineyards and sometimes working a lot of the time on their own.

The Women in Wine group would be inclusive and run informally, with no office bearers.

Members would help with tasks or projects according to their skills, Ms Bayliss said. It would meet monthly and was expected to evolve gradually.

One area it was interested in was improving IT infrastructure in the region, including lobbying for better mobile phone and internet coverage.

Central Otago "Women in Wine'' will be formally launched at 12.30pm at the Bannockburn Hall on January 31.

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