Published on 25 November 2020

Gongs for Onkaparinga’s women of wine

Two of Onkaparinga's leading wine figures won national honours at last night's 2020 Australian Women in Wine Awards.

Melissa Brown, chief viticulturist and co-owner of Gemtree Wines in McLaren Flat, took home the Owner/Operator of the Year Award, while Gill Gordon-Smith, winemaker and owner of wine shop/school Fall from Grace at Aldinga, won the Woman of Inspiration Award.

The annual awards, presented online-only this year due to COVID-19, are billed as the world’s only awards program for women in wine, and they acknowledge and reward the work of women in the Australian wine community, and community leaders who champion equality and fairness for all sexes in the workplace.

The awards were presented by comedian, TV and radio personality Merrick Watts, and awards founder and chair, Jane Thomson, with the ceremony broadcast from Langton’s TV studios in Sydney and watched by wine industry folk across Australia and internationally.

Jane Thomson said that while it had been a tough year for all, the calibre of the winners demonstrates an incredible breadth and depth of female talent in the industry.

“I’m so overjoyed that were able to keep the awards going this year, and that we could deliver an online event that brought the industry together in celebration,” she said.

“These awards continue to each year uncover even more amazing stories of achievement – and resilience – by women in the Australian wine industry. Congratulations to each and every one of them!”

Learn more about the winners below (see the full  list at the Australian Women in Wine Awards website) and learn why it’s important to support local businesses at the City of Onkaparinga website’s Go South Go Local page.

Melissa Brown – Gemtree Wines

As chief viticulturist and co-owner of Gemtree Wines, Melissa oversees many components of the day-to-day running of the winery as well as being the godmother to the regenerative agriculture philosophies of Gemtree. Melissa is a third-generation McLaren Vale grape grower and along with her winemaker husband Mike, is the current custodian of the land she is entrusted with. Melissa is a firm believer of passing the land to the next generation in a better condition than it was handed to her.

From introducing and leading the biodynamic practices in the vineyard to developing the Gemtree Ecotrail, which involved planting thousands of native trees and shrubs on the property, Melissa is a leader in her field and is sought after for advice and counsel on biodynamics, organics, sustainability and regenerative farming.

Gill Gordon-Smith – Fall from Grace

Gill Gordon-Smith is a winemaker and the owner of wine shop/school Fall from Grace at Aldinga. She is an artisan wine producer, retailer, writer, judge and educator.

With Diplomas in Training Design and Development as well as Vocational Education and Training she is a WSET Certified Educator, worked with Qantas Airways developing the renowned Sommelier in the Sky Program, presents internationally for Wine Australia and VIA and co-ordinates the Wine and Spirit School TAFE SA.

Gill has been involved in educator training and mentoring programs for many years including the WSET Educator Training, and leads the Vinitaly Academy Educator program and TAFESA Wine School educator training.

She is passionate about Italian grapes and wine.

Melissa Brown, chief viticulturist and co-owner, Gemtree Wines. Image: Australian Women in Wine Awards