Sign Up

ASVO Winemaker of the Year 2022 – Sarah Crowe

RD&A News | February 2023
24 Feb 2023
tagged with ASVO RD&A News winemaking
Previous  | Next   News

We chat with ASVO Winemaker of the Year, Sarah Crowe - Winemaker and General Manager of Yarra Yering Vineyard – about her winemaking journey.

The first time Sarah Crowe saw a vineyard in its autumn glory, it sparked something within her.

Sarah was on a six-month trip overseas that started in Istanbul and ended in San Francisco, and she remembers thinking to herself “I’m going to work in one of those when I get back to Australia.”

But before she had the courage to investigate viticulture, she started a Bachelor of Arts degree at Wollongong University.

Sarah grew up in Wollongong, the ‘steel city’ wedged between the escarpment of the Great Dividing Range and the ocean on the east coast of NSW.

“Not surprisingly, my father worked for BHP in the mines and my mother was a stay at home mum. I was the third child of three girls, then became the middle child with two younger half-sisters. 

“We holidayed in caravan parks on the south coast of NSW, with our pushbikes handy and the ocean always nearby.”

Her love of the outdoors initially led her to study horticulture and in her spare time she worked in garden centres, recommending plants to people. 

Her trip overseas made her realise horticulture wasn’t the career path for her and, after a year of an Arts degree, she had the same revelation.

“I eventually plucked up the courage to call Brokenwood and ask for a job, because I liked their wines.

“What started as five weeks pruning turned into nine years and a career change to an ‘accidental winemaker.”

During those years Sarah combined full-time work in the winery with part-time study at Charles Sturt University for a Bachelor of Applied Science in Viticulture.

“I dabbled in a double degree in Wine Science for a year but with international harvests in Oregon and the Rhone Valley, I preferred to continue to learn through travel and from others or from experience.”

After 12 years in the Hunter Valley, Sarah moved to the Yarra Valley for the job at Yarra Yering, where today she is Winemaker and General Manager.
The ASVO judges noted Sarah’s strong sense of teamwork and collaboration – something she credits to her time in the Hunter Valley and working at Brokenwood.

“As a region, I haven’t experienced one as collegiate as the Hunter Valley and Brokenwood has always had a reputation for being this kind of unofficial school of wine. I think it stems from the original owners (James Halliday, John Beeston, Tony Albert) and their love of wine and sharing good wine. This was passed onto Iain Riggs as Winemaker and Managing Director and filtered down through the business the whole time.”

It was at Brokenwood that Sarah was encouraged to start wine show judging and began helping wash glasses for the Len Evans Tutorial. Currently, she is the Chair of Judges at Sydney Royal Wine Show and a Board Member of the Len Evans Tutorial as well as being heavily involved in the execution of running the Tutorial.

“So, I would have to say I don’t know any other way, this was my introduction to the Australian wine industry and how I think it runs best. The most respected people are always the most generous with their time and personal resources. I have always liked the saying ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’”

Sarah says she regularly has ‘lightbulb’ moments where realises how much she loves what she is doing, talking with industry friends about wine and the wine world at large, but mostly when I’m out in the vineyard looking at a block of fruit and planning what I’m going to do to make it into the wine that I want it to be.”

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.

Levy payers/exporters
Non-levy payers/exporters
Find out more

This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.