At the Stinking Bishops we've proudly served Kerri's outstanding wines for several years, her passion for her craft evident in the final product. It was a no-brainer for us to showcase her unique Museum Release riesling for our feature month as part of our ongoing support for her and all the amazing women we've been lucky enough to work with all month.
Check out what Kerri has to say about the industry, what she's proud of and who inspires her below and don't forget to donate to our chosen charity 1800RESPECT!
I’m Kerri Thompson. I’ve been living and making wine in the Clare Valley district since 1998 and after eight years of managing historic Leasingham Wines I decided to establish my very own owned and operated wine business in 2006. My focus is creating individual vineyard wines from the sustainably cared for Peglidis and Churinga vineyards, in Watervale, South Australia. It’s these vineyards that I selected as the most exciting from my winemaking experience at Leasingham - now providing the heart of all the KT single vineyard wines - Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. I specialise in my first-love, Riesling, and am inspired by lovingly grown grapes from a beautiful part of the world. I’m working to create wines that express spirit of place and enjoyment.
Why have you agreed to participate in this project?
I love the opportunity to work collaboratively with like minded passionate people who are involved in primary production and hospitality and fashioning their life work with good spirit. It’s always good inspiration and the Sydney market has historically been very supportive of my wines and I love being able to support the market in return.
Why are you passionate about being involved in these collectives?
It’s great support and inspiration for us all and an opportunity to show leadership within our communities. I wish there were more of these opportunities and forums to have been involved in when I was new to my career.
How did you become involved in this field?
I was looking for a vocation that would take me around the world and would indulge my passions for science, art, and language and would allow me to do something different everyday.. I left straight from high school to start studying oenology winemaking at Roseworthy Agricultural College (now Adelaide University) at the age of 17 and finished my degree in 1993. It was a difficult time for me transitioning in to a male dominated field but I enjoyed the pace and the opportunities that it afforded me. I’ve worked with some fabulous people and travelled the world with wine.
If any, can you run us through some trials or tribulations you’ve faced based on your gender?
I’ve been very lucky that I’ve worked with some fabulous people over the years both female and male and have attempted to always surround myself with supportive people. I try not to focus on the negative or unsupportive as I find it can be too limiting of creativity and instead attempt to lead by example and get on with it. I do however remember when I was first starting in my career and during my first job interview for a position for vintage in a winery was asked if I was able to climb a ladder and did I realise I couldn’t do it in a skirt!
How do you think we can challenge these attitudes in future?
Fortunately things have changed significantly over the years but the wine community remains only approximately 10% of female employees and lower percentage of women in senior management roles. I lead by example, I work with younger women coming in to the wine community and I aim to show that it’s possible to succeed as a female, a working mother running my own business in a male dominated community. Open and consistent communication amongst peers helps to create a strong network of support and leadership. I also talk to employers (particularly in rural areas) about supporting working mothers with concepts such as job sharing and time flexibility.
Are there any women in your industry that inspire you?
Pam Dunsford was the first female to attend Roseworthy Agriculture College back in the 70s and the first Australian woman to study winemaking. She was part of the reason I studied winemaking in the first place and I am now lucky to call her a mentor and friend. I also have many female winemaking colleagues who are friends and wine business owners who I constantly draw inspiration from.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of creating a business that allows me to wake up every day and be able to get out of bed and do something that I love and that inspires me. Wines by KT helps support our family and allows me to spend time with our 3 year old daughter also. I’m proud of being a hard working mum and role model to our daughter. I’m proud of making wines that bring people together, that tell a story of their place and put smiles on peoples faces.
What are your projections for the future?
I’m hoping to continue to build my wine business by making great wines that represent the Clare Valley and taking them to the world. I hope to continue to build growth in my cellar door in Auburn to create a destination space for wine education and experiences that I can share with others. I think that more than ever people want to know where and how the produce that they buy is grown and created and want to experience some of that first hand and so I look forward to hosting customers and explain the process from the ground up and share my own world with them.