Kate Laurie | Who's Your

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Kate Laurie

Owner and Winemaker at Deviation Road Winery
Kate was 19 when she realised that becoming a winemaker was actually a ticket to her other passion... all things French. This is how she ended up in France pursuing her dream studying at the Lycée Viticole d’Avize in Champagne. Nearly 3 years later, with lots of bubbles in her belly, she returned to Australia to hone her sparkling style. In 2001 she joined husband Hamish in the Adelaide Hills and together they run a successful winery with their three daughters. Showered in accolades, including twice winning the trophy for Best Australian Sparkling at the Sydney International, Kate’s sparkling wines are poured in some of the top restaurants around the world.

Kate Laurie

Home is…
Stirling, South Australia

What do you do?
I’m the owner and Winemaker at Deviation Road Winery, Adelaide Hills.

It must be every woman’s dream to have a career involving wine. When did you know that you wanted to be a winemaker?
Throughout high school I had a passion for science, the outdoors and all things French.  My father had a vineyard and the more I worked in it, the more I realised it fulfilled everything I loved in life.  A 3 year trip to France living in Champagne and studying winemaking sealed the deal.

Describe your typical day…
Including or excluding the kids?  The seasonal nature of growing grapes, turning them into wine, and then hitting the road on sales trips and for consumer events like the upcoming Vino Paradiso means that my daily landscape is a moving beast.  In the middle of vintage you’ll see me in vineyards at 5am sampling or running a pick team, then by 11am I’m in the winery watching the fruit go through the press and extracting the juice.  This is a fairly stressful period as if you miss the optimum pick date your wine style can change dramatically.  The days are long, physical, exciting and challenging.

A recent study found current female participation in winemaking is only 8-10 per cent. Have you every experienced any setbacks or been disadvantaged for being a female working in a heavily male dominated industry?
I’ve been really fortunate in that all my positions as winemaker have been in my own family businesses, so I personally haven’t come up against any gender based barriers to my career path.  I was really surprised when I heard that statistic, but on reflection I can see that it would be pretty accurate.  I think we need to do a better job at putting the idea in girls’ minds during high school that winemaking and viticulture are options for a fantastic career.

We hear you have a passion for all things French, and have spent time studying over there. What’s your favourite thing about France?
Champagne! Oh, and cheese, Burgundy, the fact that you can speak the language without taking a breath and still be understood.  (I’m famously impossible to understand in English.)

Your label Deviation Road will have a stall at the Vino Paradiso festival in Sydney coming up on November 6. Tell us a little bit about the festival, and your involvement.
We love coming to consumer events like Vino Paradiso and chatting with the people buying our wine.  As we make Traditional Method sparkling, it’s a great way to teach people about the hands on process, and introduce them to the Adelaide Hills as a fantastic cool climate region for producing awesome wines.

Vino Paradiso is particularly exciting for us as Hamish and I love visiting The Rocks when we are in Sydney. It will be a real thrill to see such an iconic location transform into a wine paradise!

Your last bottle of wine would be…
1995 Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Millenaires champagne.

Your favourite view in Adelaide?
The view from the beautiful Mount Lofty House taking in the Mount Lofty botanical gardens towards the Piccadilly Valley and vineyards (650m altitude) is breathtaking.

What is the most important life principle you are trying to teach your three beautiful children?
Work hard at everything you do, and don’t expect things to come to you.

If there were an extra hour in everyday, what would you spend it doing?
I’d like to say exercising, but I’m sure I’d just end up answering more emails!

  • You always need great food to go with great wine. Who’s your caterer that you trust to serve up delicious foods to accompany your wine?
  • Emma Reeves at Emma Reeves Catering. Emma is an amazing chef who goes way over the top on quality, detail and flavour. 100% organic using fresh, local produce.