Heard it on the grapevine

Lou’s secrets to finding a long-term home among the vines.

Louisa Rose

Although she’s best known as Chief Winemaker at Barossa Valley’s famed Yalumba, Louisa Rose’s close friends simply call her Lou.

Graduating as one of only two women from the University of Adelaide’s winemaking degree in 1992, the industry heavyweight has gone on to become one of the world’s most respected winemakers in an industry that has long been dominated by men.

But Lou remains optimistic that the tides are turning and hopes to inspire future generations of women in winemaking.

“I don’t want to pretend it’s all perfect, we’ve still got a lot of work to do but I think it’s changing,” she said.

Beyond gender equality, Lou recognises the need for cultural diversity in the industry.

“If the people making the wine are all the same and we’re making wine for ourselves, then there’s an awful lot of the world that we’re not thinking about. I think it’s the way of the future for successful businesses.”

Lou has had a long and illustrious career in wine. Among an impressive registry of accolades, she was named Australia’s Best Winemaker by The Age in 2014; Winemaker of the Year by Gourmet  Traveller in 2008; and was awarded the Women in Wine Award in 2004.

Louisa Rose
“I don’t want to pretend it’s all perfect, we’ve still got a lot of work to do but I think it’s changing.”Louisa Rose

Born and raised in the Yarra Valley, Lou spent her teenage years toiling on her parent’s small vineyard when “there were only a handful” of them in the now thriving region.

Sceptical of the viability of a career in wine, she first completed a Bachelor of Science before her passion and interest swayed her to take a risk on winemaking.

She undertook a Bachelor of Applied Science in winemaking at the University of Adelaide's Roseworthy campus.

Lou then undertook a fate-sealing placement as a cellar hand at Yalumba, entering the industry at a pivotal moment in Australian wine history.

“Some of the opportunities I had to grow and take on new responsibilities were a credit to the expansion happening to the industry locally and around the world,” said Lou.

More than 25 years later, she now holds the esteemed role of Chief Winemaker and custodian of Australia’s most historic family- owned winery’s proud lineage of tradition and innovation. Lou actions messages of change through her roles as: Chair of the Australian Wine Research Institute, Chair of the University of Adelaide's Alumni Council and as Grand Master of the winemaking fraternity Barons of Barossa. “I have been, and probably still am, asked to go on committees and boards as the token woman, to achieve the required gender balance. It worried me for a while but now I figure that I'm also qualified anyway... I don't take umbrage as to why I've been asked but I hope that I can make a difference.”

Story by Alana Grimaldi
Photos by Meaghan Coles

Tagged in lumen, lumen Summer 2019