Queensland Winemaker Wins Australia-Wide Competition; Sirromet Wines’ Jessica Ferguson Off To Judge At the 2019 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards

The Royal Melbourne Wine Awards, Australia’s premier wine show, has a new addition to its 2019 wine judging panel.

Queensland winemaker, Jessica Ferguson at Sirromet Wines at Mount Cotton has won an Australia-wide writing competition to win a place as an associate wine judge on the 2019 panel. This year’s RMWA judging takes place at the Melbourne Showgrounds from October 7-11.

The competition was an initiative of the Australian Women In Wine Awards (AWIWA) and the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards (RMWA) to highlight the need for greater balance and gender diversity in the Australian wine show system.
Applicants were required to write 500 words on the topic, “How do you see the value of the Australian wine show system to the Australian wine industry?”

“Our competition had a clear agenda which was to highlight and promote a talented associate judge and assist with fast-tracking her wine judging career,” said Jeni Port, AWIWA board member. “We could have promoted all of the 22 entrants who applied but Jessica was a clear standout.”
“The Australian wine show system needs more women like Jessica, and I believe the RMWA initiative is something that more wine shows could learn and benefit from.”

Jessica Ferguson has been a winemaker at Sirromet Wines sourcing fruit grown in the Granite Belt region for 14 vintages and has a minimum intervention approach towards winemaking. She is also a Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Certified Educator with a Bachelor in Science. Her previous judging experience includes associate judge at the RNA Royal Queensland Wine Show.
In her competition entry, she impressed judges with her analysis and the recognition that judging wine has helped enormously with her job as a winemaker.

“I’ve learnt more listening to the discussion and occasional argument between winemakers and retail trade professionals than I ever could from just fellow winemakers,” she wrote. “Diverse judging panels produce mutual respect for the challenges that all wine industry roles involve (and) demystify the process of wine shows.”

Royal Melbourne Wine Awards Chair of Judges, Matt Harrop, has welcomed the arrival of Jessica to the 2019 judging team. “Jess has the requisite judging experience to step into an associate position at this year’s RMWA, he said. “Not only is she the first recipient of the AWIWA associate judging position, but as far as I am aware, she is the first winemaker from Queensland to officiate at the RMWA.”

The joint AWIWA-RMWA initiative has helped identify clear pathways for talented women to enter the capital city show judging circuit. “This is another step in RMWA’s efforts to bring greater diversity to our show,” stressed RMWA Committee Chair, Angie Bradbury. “This year, three of the seven-panel chairs are women and we are close to a 50/50 balance across judges and associates.”