Celebrating Women in Wine: Di Miller of Bellarmine
It’s safe the say that Di Miller’s childhood dream of becoming an astronaut slash cowboy is off the cards for now, however from working as a vet in the UK to becoming winemaker for Bellarmine, she’s certainly had an interesting journey. The winery sits in Pemberton, WA, just close enough to Margaret River for a little healthy competition. She’s had a tonne of experience (on top of general gallivanting around the French wine regions) working with various clients in WA’s Great Southern region, before settling down with just Bellarmine back in 2008. Di says the female influence in the wine industry is, quite frankly, ‘enormous’, and is keen to get some equal pay rules in like Iceland did in January. Here’s hoping!
Di is currently pretty flat out studying for her Master of Wine certificate, and drinking even more wine than usual, so we were lucky to catch her to answer some questions for us. She also talks about a coffee rock, so stay tuned for what that is...
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
An astronaut or a cowboy.
When did you realise winemaking was an actual thing you could do as a job?
When I was working as a vet in the UK and enjoying holidays in wine regions in France. After my Dad passed away I realised it had to happen now and I went back to uni.
Did you choose to work in the region you’re in now for a specific reason?
I was asked by the owner of Bellarmine to manage it after the other managers left, I was already making the wines by contract and I loved the vineyard and what it could make.
What does winemaking mean to you?
It’s a wonderful blend of art and science, allowing creativity and also providing analysis to back up your tastes.
What’s been your proudest achievement and biggest fail?
Proudest achievement work-wise is winning the trophy for ‘Best Riesling’ at the Mt Barker Wine Show of Western Australia. Biggest fail is working a 30 hour shift then looking back and realising no one cared and I was very silly to do it.
What’s your favourite music jam at the moment?
I love Miike Snow’s Genghis Khan - the video clip is hilarious too. For International Women’s Day I’d have to say all music by Florence and the Machine - I would love to see her in concert.
Who do you look up to in the wine industry?
I look up to my mentors, Dorham Mann, Gary Baldwin and Bill Crappsley. Great guys with such kindness and wisdom, they were more than just winemaking consultants for me.
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?
There are a lot of great women working in production and of course women in all other areas from marketing to education. James Halliday has two wonderful women as his trusty aides. They are everywhere and many are just simply quiet achievers. The influence is enormous.
What would you like to see happen next for women in the wine industry?
More family friendly working conditions (for men and women). And equal pay like they have ruled as law in Iceland, for all women in all industries across the world.
You’re relaxing on a Friday evening (or any evening) after a hard day’s work, what’s your vino of choice?
It could be anything, I’m still trying to pass my Master of Wine exams, so literally anything.
But of choice I’d say Australian, and most likely riesling or chardonnay.