Winemaker Jen Parr, of Wanaka, recently held her first mentoring session as part of a new pilot programme and says it was ''incredibly rewarding''.

Ms Parr makes wine for Valli Vineyards, at Gibbston.

She is also a wine judge, and her wines have won many awards during her career.

Plus she is a member of the Women in Wine New Zealand (WIW), an initiative developed by New Zealand Wine last year to provide support to women in the industry, and encourage more to take up leadership and governance roles.

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WIW has launched a voluntary pilot mentoring programme. Ms Parr is one of nine women throughout the country and in all facets of the wine industry who are taking part.

''The pilot is running for six months, until the end of the year, and if the programme is successful, New Zealand Winegrowers will make it a non-gender-specific programme,'' Ms Parr said.

She attended a meeting in Auckland last month for some coaching and has been assigned a mentee, Katrina Jackson, of Chard Farm.

''I have had my first session with Katrina and found it was just an incredibly rewarding thing to be part of,'' she said.

''The idea will be to meet with mentees once a month.''

She said if the programme proved successful, they would be looking for more people to be involved next year.

''It is humbling to be part of that group of women and being able to give back to the industry.

''It is about taking the time now to make the industry even better for the new generations.''

Ms Parr said topics discussed with the mentees could cover any aspect of the industry, including work, goal setting and careers.

''The areas covered are up to the mentees.

''The idea is to provide a safe, understanding and trusted environment to talk about things that are important to them.

''It is about encouraging people to have a fire in their belly and to do well and to give back to the industry,'' she said.

Southern Rural Life