McLaren Vale in late spring is glorious. The vines are green and lush, the skies are blue and the sun lingers into the early evening.
It was on one of these recent golden afternoons that winemaker Corrina Wright was reminded of why she loves what she does.
‘I had been invited to lunch at d’Arenberg’s Cube to launch an innovative piece of technology for the wine sector’, she recalls. ‘Our vineyards back onto each other [Corrina is at Oliver’s Taranga] so I rode my quad bike there.
‘I went on to have an incredible lunch, taste some amazing wines, chat to some interesting wine sector colleagues and view some Salvador Dali sculptures.
‘As I rode my bike home in the beautiful light, through my vineyards with kangaroos hopping by, I really thought that I was the luckiest person alive to do what I do right now.’
It is this passion for life – and the wine community – that has sustained Corrina, and recently catapulted her into being awarded the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) Winemaker of the Year 2019.
Corrina was still studying winemaking when she convinced her family to give her some fruit from their vineyard to make wine. It was the first time that fruit from her family’s vineyard had been made into wine by someone with intimate knowledge of the land, the site and the fruit.
The wine was good, and Oliver’s Taranga was born.
But rather than follow the more traditional winemaking path using common varieties such as Shiraz, Corrina was keen to experiment with new grape varieties and it is this dedication to the development of innovative grape varieties and wine styles that has set her winemaking apart.
‘We were asked in the early days to plant alternative grape varieties by other early adoptors, including Mark Lloyd from Coriole.’ Fiano and Sagrantino were first on the list, and others followed – including Vermentino and Australia’s first planting of Mencia.
‘I was excited with what we found – texture, savoury elements, high natural acidity and the heat and drought tolerance of these alternative varieties.
‘The more alternative wine styles I tried, the keener I got.’
Corrina’s passion for the wine sector, and her contribution to it, was noted by the ASVO judging panel.
‘Corrina is a key instigator and contributor in the Winemakers Federation of Australia (now Australian Grape and Wine) development of the Diversity and Equality Charter for the wine sector.
‘Her leadership on cultural change for the wine community has also included her advisory board position on the Australian Women in Wine Awards, and her contribution to the creation of the sold out “Hear Me Roar” Shiraz – the world’s first wine produced by women to raise funds for women in wine with 100 per cent of profits from the sale go to assist women to flourish and succeed in their chosen profession in the Australian wine sector’, they noted.
Corrina says she feels incredibly humbled to receive the ASVO Winemaker of the Year Award.
‘To be nominated and selected by your peers is truly special. It’s been nice to take the time to take stock and see what I have been able to contribute to the sector so far, and I look forward to contributing even more moving forward.’
In the meantime, she is enjoying the moment: ‘Meeting incredible people, talking Aussie wine, tasting Aussie wine, changing perceptions and challenging people’s understanding of Aussie wine, learning from other incredible Aussie winemakers doing their own thing and sharing what we do – it’s an amazing sector.’
 Currently on exhibition at the Cube