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translation missing: en.ACellars Newsletter 10th March, 2022 - Women in Focus: ACellars Newsletter 10th March, 2022 - Women in Focus

This week at Annandale Cellars we focus on les vigneronnes, as we celebrate International Women's Day with some of the women who have "broken the bias" in the industry.
Vignerons Schmölzer and Brown

Tessa Brown, of Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown, is hard-working, nurturing, opinionated, caring, impulsive and considered. Growing up on a sugarcane farm in far north Queensland, a last minute decision saw Tessa enroll in a viticulture degree, and thus her path in the winemaking world was set.

With vintages completed across Spain, Italy, New Zealand, Orange, Adelaide Hills, Mornington Peninsula and Beechworth, Tessa, with her life and wine partner Jeremy, established Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown in 2014 when an idyllic plot of land came up for sale in the township of Stanley, above Beechworth. It could have been the encouragement from Beechworth vigneron Mark Walpole that helped convince the young couple to purchase the cleared plot, but Tessa reflects on what really helped her and Jeremy to take the leap of faith and start their own label:

"Jeremy and I had daydreamed about the idea of buying land and planting a vineyard from when we first became a couple a decade ago. The idea didn’t get revisited until I started to get pressure for sideways career movement from a boss who assumed, as a woman getting to my mid thirties, that I would start a family, casually abandon winemaking and become a sales and marketing lady. Well, this became a real burr under my saddle, and I was torturing Jeremy about the unfairness of it. I sat down one evening after the boss had said something particularly 1950s-y, to write a list of employee women winemakers with kids: people who weren’t in family businesses or running their own labels. I only came up with two names."

Sourcing fruit from their slowly maturing Thornley vineyard at Stanley, their neighbours' Brunnen vineyard, and the high altitude vineyards of the King Valley's Whitlands for their famed, germanic-style Rieslings, Tessa and Jeremy have worked hard to nurture their vines, their fruit trees and their growing family of two children. When asked if they expect their then toddler daughter Remi to follow in their footsteps, Tessa remarks that she and Jeremy are "equally open to her doing that and working towards that if that’s what she wants to do; and if she chooses another path, we’ve got to let her be herself".

Tessa says she will encourage their children to do as she and Jeremy did; to "go out and see the world, make your choices as late as possible, [and] keep an open mind". Find Tessa's wines here.

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Domaine des Marnes Blanches

Like Tessa and Jeremy of Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown, Pauline Fromont and her life and wine partner Gérauld came from farming backgrounds in the Jura, rather than winemaking. But the lack of wine "pedigree" has not held them back from becoming the rising Jurassic stars of Domaine des Marnes Blanches, the domaine they established when they were both only in their mid-twenties.

With vineyards across three towns, the domaine's name comes from the white marl (trans. Marnes Blanche) with its topsoil of limestone from their original site at Cesancey.

Pauline and Gérauld share all aspects of the viticulture and viniculture and their certified organic vineyards are located in the Jura's Sud Revermont region, which is also home to a lot of the Jura's natural wine producers (including Ganevat).

Pauline and her partner Gérauld produce two main styles of wine: topped up (ouille) and oxidative (sous voile) for which they have two different cellars to mature the wines in their ideal conditions. They are young and energetic producers which is reflected in their living wines. A producer fit for every wine lovers' table and a couple to watch into the future. Shop Pauline's wines here.

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Staff Pick

Domaine Aléofane

Rather than follow her brother Yann to take over the family business, a young Natacha Chave left the Chave family domaine in Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage to study the philosophy of language before grounding herself in the agricultural sciences.

It was the power of Syrah that lured Natacha back home to the Northern Rhône and at the age of 28, she established her own domaine, to make wine her way, without limitation.

Domaine Aléofane takes its name from the language philosophy scholar's readings of John Macmillan Brown's fictional island Aléofane, where the inhabitants are devoted to truth, and where wines are rare and medicinal.

Whist a doctorate of philosophy might not be quite the right doctor to attest to the medicinal powers, there is nothing but truth in Natacha's wines. Assisted by her niece Daphné, Natacha uses a mixture of organic and biodynamic farming and her vines are all harvested by hand. She practices minimal intervention when it comes to winemaking, limiting the amount of sulphur added, fermenting by indigenous yeasts and keeping her wines unfined and unfiltered.

The Domaine Aléofane Crozes-Hermitage comes from 50-year old vines grown on alluvial clay. Coincidentally robed in the purple of this week's theme, the Crozes-Hermitage offers red fruits intermingled with some dark savoury features of earth, pepper and sarsparilla.

Medium bodied in weight but full flavoured. Buy it here.