Celebrating Women in Wine: Corrina Wright of Oliver's Taranga
Despite a family history of winemaking spanning some 179 years, we could’ve easily lost Corrina Wright to flying high or fighting crime every other day, such were her childhood dreams of becoming an air hostess, lawyer, or the old ‘anything but a desk job’ path. It’s probably hard to be modest being sixth generation awesome at Oliver’s Taranga winery, but she manages okay, so we’ll toot her horn for her. Before taking on the historic vineyard in McLaren Vale she explored the world for some 10 years. She’s now a highly regarded winemaker and partners with cousin Brioni (cellar manager, often found in thongs driving a forklift with a dog sidekick) to keep churning out absolutely top-notch wines.
Corrina is part of the Australian Women in Wine Awards advisory committee, which is pretty bloody cool, making sure full-on legends like herself are getting the recognition they deserve. She’s also en route to creating a code that makes sure there’s more balance in the industry.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
First an air hostess. Then I remembered that I get awful travel sickness. Then a lawyer. Then I remembered I don’t like to wear a suit to work and I like being outside. Winemaking for the win!
When did you realise winemaking was an actual thing you could do as a job?
I always knew it was a job - my family have grown grapes for 179 years now, and my dad was a general manager at Kay Brothers winery in McLaren Vale - so there was never a time that I wasn’t part of wine really.
Did you choose to work in the region you’re in now for a specific reason?
I am the sixth generation to farm the same piece of land, I was never going to be anywhere else. I did travel and make wine all over the place for around 10 years before I came back home full time though.
What does winemaking mean to you?
Creation. Fruition. Brain ignition. Decisions. Gratification. Celebration. Intimidation. Recognition of family and history. Generations. Primary production. Regions. Community. Delicious. Life’s work.
What’s been your proudest achievement and biggest fail?
Proudest achievements: creating our own label, opening our cellar door and growing with the business, kids and hubby. Biggest fails usually come when I am doing something or chasing something shiny that isn’t really part of the DNA of my business or myself. I do that less now as I feel more confident with age!
What’s your favourite music jam at the moment?
At the moment I can’t get enough of the big powerhouse songs from the cast of The Greatest Showman - belting them out at the top of my lungs as I drive around the vineyard. Usually the radio is on Triple J.
Who do you look up to in the wine industry?
I am inspired by so, so many peeps, I can’t name just one. I love anyone who are going hard, doing their own thing and smashing it.
According to Wine Australia, the number of women employed in wine has increased by just 3% since 2011, going from 35 to 38%. What’s your opinion on female influence in the Australian wine industry?
In production the numbers are much lower at only 9% (which has been falling), even though there are 50-50 University graduates. Those numbers stress me out and you do feel like a minority as winemaking and viticulture has been a male-dominated field for a long time. But, very excited to be part of a move towards cultural change as I am part of a working group to develop a ‘code of conduct’ for the wine community. Hopefully this can help to draw a line in the sand and find ways to even up the balance. I am also part of the Australian Women in Wine Awards advisory committee, which is helping to make sure that there are more visibility around all the incredible women that are out there fully killing it (the old- you can’t be what you can’t see!).
What would you like to see happen next for women in the wine industry?
I think 25% women in production sounds like a good number over the next 10 years. But I’ll take more. I’ll also be keen for ‘female’ winemakers not to be a specific thing- we can just all be winemakers without any gender required.
You’re relaxing on a Friday evening (or any evening) after a hard day’s work, what’s your vino of choice?
Champagne. Or Gin.