Female winemakers operate in a largely male dominated industry, but one trailblazing woman has a unique story.
Premium member Katherine Brown is the fourth generation in a long line of winemakers, and the first female winemaker in the Brown Brothers family.
As the company’s winemaker and brand ambassador, Katherine splits her time between crafting wine and being on the road educating sales teams. Katherine calls it “the marriage of winemaking and marketing.” We’d call it a dream job.
Brown family have been making wine for over 120 years, and while Katherine always had a love for wine, for a decade she thought she’d always work in marketing, taking on sales and marketing roles early in her career.
It took a quarter life crisis – a relationship break-up – for Katherine to leave Melbourne and spend a year travelling. It was her time volunteering as a cellar hand in French vineyards that she found her true love for the art and science of wine-making. Soon after, she moved back to Australia ready to continue the family legacy.
At 27, Katherine went to back to university to study all she could about winemaking. Being a mature age student is never easy, but Katherine insists it’s never too late to learn something new and to take it seriously.
“If you think about it, when you’re in your 30s, you’re only one third of your life. You really do have the time to take six years out of your life to retrain. Even if you’re learning something new at 50, you still have half your life to enjoy your skills. You’ve still got so much more time to follow a passion.”
Katherine chose Charles Sturt University to complete her Masters in Viticulture and Oenology (that’s wine-making and the cultivation and harvesting of grapes) because the course outline provided specifically what she needed, and the school gave her the freedom to study long distance. The degree gave her the knowledge and stamp of approval to become a professional wine-maker.
Katherine chose to study over working full-time, waking up three hours earlier than usual to study, becoming extra selective about which events to attend, and always cautious about how late to stay up on Saturday nights.
“If you’re really focused on a goal, then you don’t mind sacrificing those things at all. If you’re going to change direction, you have to do it 150 per cent. You don’t just change careers without getting background knowledge. Learn everything you possibly can, and then do what it takes.”
“You need to communicate with your friends and family about your goals and what support you need so that they fully understand what you’re going through, and even forgive you if you miss a 30th birthday.”
Katherine has seen people hold themselves back from changing careers out of feeling like they’d be starting from the bottom again. Her advice? “Don’t ever feel that it’s a step back. Make the switch and get better at showing off your diverse talents.”
In proud partnership with Charles Sturt University.