Celebrating Women in Wine: Emma Raidis of Raidis Estate

Rosa Nguyen
By Rosa Nguyen
about 2 years ago
5 min read

Emma Raidis needs no introduction. Co-owner and winemaker of Raidis Estate for the past 12 years, Emma and her husband Steven are Coonawarra favourites. Growing up in Adelaide, the country’s wine capital, she moved to Coonawarra for love and ended up staying for the region, its people and the wines. And we’re so glad she did.

Inspired by her husband, parents and grandparents - to her, family is the secret to her success. As a woman working in the wine industry, she hopes to see 50/50 representation on all boards, panels and wine shows because she firmly believes, you can’t be what you can’t see, and we couldn’t agree more. 

Find out what winemaking means to Emma, her wine of choice on a Friday night and her opinion on the female influence in the Australian wine industry below.

What did you want to be when you were a kid? 

I was quite creative and wanted to be an architect but hated my physics teacher so never pursued it. I was also quite a lazy student, so uni didn’t interest me. In hindsight, I actually loved learning but not in the traditional way. I am still obsessed with building designs and architecture in general.

When did you realise winemaking was an actual thing you could do as a job? 

I had friends at school who were studying to be winemakers, so quite early on. 

Did you choose to work in the region you’re in now for a specific reason? 

I initially moved to Coonawarra because I met my now husband and he lived here. I came for love but stayed because I love the region, its people and the wines. It has a cool climate but a warm soul.

What does winemaking mean to you? 

Winemaking is about capturing the essence of a region in bottled form.

What’s been your proudest achievement and biggest fail? 

Winning the trophy for Best White Wine of Show for our 2015 ‘The Kid’ Riesling. We love the variety in general and it was good to be recognised for our efforts. We’ve had many fails over the years, more on the business front that anything else, but you’ve just got to keep learning so they don’t stay as fails but become lessons.

What’s your favourite music jam at the moment?

I am such an indecisive person, so I can never make up my mind. I listen to Spotify a lot so I never really settle on anything, but the other day I got nostalgic and listed to the entire Nirvana Unplugged album – it was great. Listening to an album in its entirety has been lost but I can recommend it!

 Who’s been you biggest inspiration?

My parents are both amazing, they were both business owners growing up so that had a huge influence on me. At first because I swore I would never be self-employed, but as you grow up you see the benefits of being your own boss. It’s the same for my husband Steven, we both grew up in households where our parents and grandparents had a great work ethic. We are very lucky to have a great support network of family around us. The wine industry can be a tough place, especially when you are starting a business from scratch, there is a lot of pressure and we both feel it at different times. Steven is probably my biggest inspiration – no matter how hard things get he can see the upside, I give him a lot of shit but really, he is my rock. This is not a very concise answer but I could literally name hundreds of people in this industry who inspire 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? 

I think if it’s increasing we are doing something right. There’s a powerhouse of women in leading roles in our industry at the moment. I live in a region were there are many women in senior winemaking/viticulture positions. I think we’re living in an exciting time in the world right now. There’s a large shift of thought happening that will give women more opportunity than we’ve ever had before. Having said that, having babies will be a factor in the role women play. I was lucky and unlucky when we had our kids when I was self-employed. Lucky in the sense that I could take my newborn to work from only a couple of weeks old and get some stuff done, but unlucky that I didn’t really have another choice. The only way things will get better for women (across all industries) is if we (as business owners can be creative and flexible) in how our kids can be raised, and that means making it okay for our men to stay home if they want.

What would you like to see happen next for women in the wine industry? 

I would really like to see 50/50 representation on ALL boards, panels and wine shows. Some will say that quotas mean that its not merit based. I used to be one of them, but in reality until there are positions for all, you will not get the people applying. You can’t be what you can’t see. Plus, having diversity on any board (be is gender, age, cultural background) is essential for broader thoughts and better thinking. 

You’re relaxing on a Friday evening (or any evening) after a hard day’s work, what’s your vino of choice? 

I’m quite indecisive, so it would totally depend on my mood. I love Champagne, Riesling and Cabernet. If I was choosing it would almost never be a Pinot Noir – controversial I know!