The Women In Wine (WIW) group marked its first birthday recently and members are looking forward to its second Christmas gathering.

Ata Mara Vineyard director and owner Janiene Bayliss, of Cromwell, who founded the group, said it had about 200 members from throughout Central Otago vineyards and associated businesses.

Since then, other WIW groups in other regions have started, New Zealand Winegrowers (NZWG) supporting the initiative.

''We are one of the biggest and probably the most active,'' Ms Bayliss said.


''Everybody has interesting backgrounds and we have some amazing women as members.''

She said about 47% in the industry were women.

''We are punching above our weight, but are under-represented [at board level].''

She said the group shared knowledge among its members, and provided a support network.

''Most women in the wine industry are not from rural backgrounds,'' she said.

''I am the fourth generation [to live rurally] and I know what it is like to live in a reasonably isolated place.

''It is about logistics, and to complete anything tends to take twice as long and costs twice as much.

''To have a supportive and understanding network is really important so that we are not isolated.''


During the year, they have had speakers from Immigration New Zealand and Seasonal Solutions, a speaker from Federated Farmers talking about adverse event planning and someone from Oritain in Dunedin discussing the importance of traceability.

They also had a speaker from the Central Otago District Council discussing alcohol licensing requirements.

Ms Bayliss and the WIW group have had a meeting with Otago University staff including those from the pharmacology, geology, tourism, and women's studies faculties.

''We had a fabulous meeting with them and they had some mind-blowing ideas, as Central Otago is quite important to them.''

She said they were interested in looking at future projects in Central Otago and in the wine industry, as well as further study options for their students.

WIW intends to talk to school pupils about the range of careers available within the wine industry.

One of the things they intend to look at is more exchange programmes with other wine-producing countries.

As part of that, she attended a conference in London in June, for the global Women of the Vine and Spirits group, which is based in the United States, and made important connections.

The WIW is also working on persuading the Government to make changes to the alcohol licensing laws, so they are more appropriate to cellar doors, and selling and giving wine samples at events.

They are now waiting to hear back from the Ministry of Justice.

Southern Rural Life