Aspiring wine judge joins Australian Organic Wine Awards judging panel through new scholarship empowering women in wine

Image: Olivia Evans

Australian Organic Limited (AOL), the peak body for the organic sector, created the 12-month program to foster the talent of high performing women in the wine industry. Trained sommelier, writer, and aspiring wine judge, Olivia Evans, has been announced as the successful recipient of the 2021 Australian Organic Wine Awards Associate Scholarship.

The program is centred around mentoring and preparing the recipient to serve as part of the judging panel at the annual Australian Organic Wine Awards

The scholarship is the first of its kind and AOL chief executive officer Niki Ford said she was thrilled to announce Olivia as recipient of what will become an important legacy event.

“AOL is extremely proud to be launching the Australian Organic Wine Awards Associate Scholarship which will empower emerging wine leaders and support gender diversity within the wine-judging ranks,” said Ford.

“The scholarship has been created in a collaborative effort with leading wine representatives who are united in supporting women in the industry.

“We have tailor-made the scholarship to have a holistic focus and Olivia can look forward to mentoring sessions with industry leaders and wine-writing masterclasses with top journalists.”

Olivia will take up her associate judge position at the Australian Organic Wine Awards in April next year, where she will sit alongside well-established wine judges including leading Australian wine writer, Mike Bennie, and Group Beverage Director for the STK Group – Alexandria McPherson.

Olivia said she was humbled by being named the first recipient of AOWAAS.

“The scholarship will provide an endless list of amazing opportunities, which I know will be incredibly beneficial to my career,” said Olivia.

“I am extremely grateful for my scholarship, and honoured that it’s focused on organic wine, which is a subject that I hold very dear to my heart as I feel it will play a huge role in the future of the wine industry.”

Australian Organic Wine Awards judge Mike Bennie congratulated Olivia on her achievement and said nurturing talent within the organic wine community was an essential part of advancing the industry.

“The foundation of the scholarship is the essential inclusion and development of female identifying talent in our wine community,” said Mike.

“Olivia is an outstanding and creative-thinking human with a wealth of knowledge and know how across a wide-ranging set of career and vocational experiences.

“Many aspirational judges, just like Olivia, can find it difficult to get first-hand experience and this scholarship opens up the field to a broader inclusion at wine shows.”

Olivia’s journey into the wine industry began straight after high school when she started her career in the hospitality sector.

She soon fell in love with the job and has since travelled the world working in fine-dining restaurants.

“When I was about 23-years-old I was working in a restaurant where there was a team of sommeliers, I thought they were the coolest people in the restaurant and became fascinated by their job,” she said.

From there, Olivia underwent her formal training through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust to achieve her Level Three and Court of Master Sommeliers Certification. She currently writes for The Weekend Edition and works for LoFi Wines as Queensland Area Sales Manager.

She is thoroughly looking forward to appraising the best organic drops during the Australian Organic Wine Awards, which entries are now open for.

Ford said this year wine producers would be vying for the Vanya Cullen trophy, which tributes the Cullen Wines Managing Director and Chief Winemaker.

“Vanya Cullen is broadly considered to be a pioneer or ‘grandmother’ of the Australian organic and biodynamic wine sector and we are honoured to create this trophy in her namesake,” Ms Ford said.

Applications for the 2021 Australian Organic Wine Awards close on 5 November. For more information, or to nominate, please visit the award’s website.


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