Celebrating Women in Wine: Clare Halloran of TarraWarra Estate
Celebrating Women in Wine #IWD2020
By Katherine Houston
Once Clare Halloran found out being a real life winemaker was a thing, she was in. Turns out you don’t have to be born into it or marry it like the Royal Family. She headed straight for the (Yarra Valley) hills and it was love at first sight. She’s been around the block, spending time with the Mount Mary crew, and is now making kickass wines at TarraWarra Estate.
We had a chat about women in wine, what she’s most proud of (and when she messed up in the vineyard), and what she’s drinking at the moment.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I went to a Catholic girls’ school, our career choices were nurse or teacher. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I did PE teaching!
When did you realise winemaking was an actual thing you could do as a job?
I was working waitressing various jobs, and met a real life winemaker. I’d become interested in wine through working in hospitality, but hadn’t realised it was something you could study and become. I thought you had to be born into it. So I applied to Adelaide University, and started my new career.
Did you choose to work in the region you’re in now for a specific reason?
I love the wines from the Yarra Valley, I first tried Mount Mary Quintet many years ago, and was beguiled by its elegance. There’s also a strong sense of community, which has persisted through all the years I’ve been here. When I first came here I would visit Dr. Bailey Carrodus at Yarra Yering, and John Middleton at Mount Mary, and their generosity with time and knowledge is something that continues today with the newer people in the region.
What does winemaking mean to you?
The opportunity to make something that will last for a long time and that people enjoy. It’s also that sense of being able to capture and interpret seasons through wine.
What’s been your proudest achievement and biggest fail?
I’m probably most proud of being able to help make TarraWarra a wonderful place to visit, creating spaces that people can relax and enjoy our food and wine. My biggest fail was grafting a block of chardonnay over to pinot noir, it just went wrong!
What’s your favourite music jam at the moment?
I’m a bit old school with music, so will often have Radiohead, Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen going.
Who do you look up to in the wine industry/Who’s been your biggest inspiration, why?
There’s so many people I look up to and that have inspired me, Philip Jones from Bass Philip has always been one of them, as had Michael Dhillon from Bindi, both wonderful people who make extraordinary wine.
According to Wine Australia, the number of women employed in wine has increased by just 3% since 2011, going from 35 to 38%. What’s your opinion on female influence in the Australian wine industry?
It’s a bit like any area, we make up 50% of the population, 50% of the buying in wine, yet our voices are often drowned out, which is really frustrating. I think it’s improving, and I was happy to see all the women at the Australian Women in Wine awards doing amazing things.
What would you like to see happen next for women in the wine industry?
Same as for women in any industry; respect, parity.
You’re relaxing on a Friday evening (or any evening) after a hard day’s work, what’s your vino of choice?
At the moment I’m enjoying our marsanne, roussanne and viogner.