Scholarship promotes the next generation of female leaders in the organic wine industry

AOL Chief Executive Niki Ford. Image courtesy Australian Organic Limited

Applications for the 2023 Australian Organic Wine Awards Associate Scholarship have opened, presenting a unique opportunity for the next generation of female wine leaders.

Supported by industry body Australian Organic Limited (AOL), the scholarship is aimed at promoting female talent and leadership in the organic wine industry, as well as serving the award’s purpose of raising the profile of organic and biodynamic wine.

Alongside a role as an associate judge on the tasting panel for the organic industry’s coveted wine awards, the scholarship recipient will benefit from a range of development and learning opportunities over a year-long journey, including mentoring from industry leaders.

AOL Chief Executive Niki Ford said the program helps foster the next generation of female ambassadors for the organic wine industry.

“We’ve created a progressive, equity based and industry-leading scholarship, which is in high demand, attracting the best emerging female talent in wine,” Ford said.

“It helps build capability through blended learning, focusing on exposure, experience and education.

“Through the mentoring experience, we hope to provide the encouragement, skills and confidence to propel the winner’s leadership journey.”

The learning activities in the scholarship help build capability in areas of the organic industry, wine industry knowledge, wine judging, oenology, winemaking, viticulture, marketing, communication and wine writing.

Sommelier, wine writer and inaugural scholarship winner, Olivia Evans, said the program gave her the confidence to continue on her organic journey.

“The scholarship reinforced my appreciation and dedication to organic philosophies in the wine industry,” Evans said.

“It brings women into the judging space, where there are certainly more males, and provides a space to gain a better understanding of the importance of organic agriculture.

“It was inspiring to learn from Niki Ford about how AOL works as a governing body, its influence on the wine industry, and how they approach government in order to enact change in the agricultural sector.

“I was also mentored by Mike Bennie, which was an empowering experience. He invited two brilliant women in the wine industry – Lilly Heenan and Millie Gosney – to judge alongside us at the Awards. It was clear that Mike wanted to support our opinions as newcomers to judging, creating a space of inclusivity and respect.

“From my point of view, I believe the representation of women in the industry is getting stronger and stronger. I returned to Brisbane after living away for four years and the change within the wine community was vast with women now holding major positions in the most successful restaurants in town, along with many women in supporting roles.

“Only good things come out of initiatives like this scholarship. If anyone wants to gain an understanding of the governing body for organics in Australia, meet some fantastic people and learn to judge wine professionally, this is the time.”

Applications for the 2023 Australian Organic Wine Awards Associate Scholarship can be made by emailing [email protected]. Applications close Friday, 14 April 2023.

Sommelier, wine writer and inaugural scholarship winner, Olivia Evans

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