Celebrating Women in Wine: Renae Hirsch
Chances are if you've not heard of winemaker extraordinaire Renae Hirsch you've probably sipped on something she's had a hand in - she works with Farmer’s Leap, Chalk Hill, Hugo Family Wines, Aramis, Willunga 100, Field Day Wines, plus a few others. Phew. Hailing from the Adelaide Hills, she lives in the city of Adelaide with her partner Andrew and their beautiful whippet Marley.
"Some wineries are better than others, and I think most are getting better but also the culture of some wineries can be difficult to work in as a woman."
What I wanted to be as a kid: "I don’t think I ever had a clear idea as a kid, it changed all time depending on what I was into."
When I first realised winemaking could be a job: "When looking through the University course guide, trying to work out what I wanted to do after high school."
The reason I chose to make wine here: "I work for wine companies in a few different regions - McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Adelaide Hills, and I guess it’s close to where I’m from and where I’ve ended up. I love working with fruit from each of these regions for different reasons."
What winemaking means to me: "To me it is guiding the fruit into a wine gently and allowing all those characters you see in the fruit to be expressed in balance in the wine."
My biggest win & fail: "Proudest achievement I think in my career was to see if I could make a winemaking consultancy business work rather than being an employee for one company - I love doing what I do, working with so many different people and different styles of wines. Also obviously making wines that I’m really proud of and then getting validation through awards/ them being popular in the marketplace! My biggest failure... to be honest there have been many failures over the years, ideas that haven’t worked out at all how I thought they would or making decisions that in hindsight weren’t the best."
"I’d love to see it get to a point where it’s no longer a topic that needs discussing, where we have reached parity."
Who I look up to in the wine industry: "There are so many inspirational people within the wine industry - I couldn’t name just a few. I admire anyone that puts themselves out there, by starting their own brand or being an advocate for others, or approaching things from a different angle."
The biggest barrier for women entering the wine industry: "Depending on which area of the wine industry I think, there are a few barriers. As a winemaker especially when starting out and having to work in the cellar – it can be quite physical work, the hours are long and inflexible at harvest time. This can be difficult, especially for mothers with young kids! Some wineries are better than others, and I think most are getting better but also the culture of some wineries can be difficult to work in as a woman."
What I would like to see happen next for Women in Wine: "I’d love to see it get to a point where it’s no longer a topic that needs discussing, where we have reached parity."
Advice I would give to women wanting to enter the wine industry: "It’s generally a great industry to work in and if interested then give it a go. I find the work really rewarding and generally pretty fun, there are lots of fantastic people working in the wine industry. But be aware of the sort of hours you will be expected to work during the harvest period and that it is still a male dominated industry especially in the production side of things."
My wine of choice to relax on a Friday: "Love a glass of Chardonnay, or perhaps a Grenache, unless I feel like celebrating- Champagne is my favourite!"
My current music jam: "I’ve been listening and singing along to the first album of Florence + the Machine ("Lungs") in the car this week - such an awesome album!"
We're committed to ALWAYS having wines available that are made by women. In an industry that’s still dominated by men, we believe in celebrating the incredible work women are doing. Here’s to our Women in Wine!