Ballandean Estate continues to break new ground with the appointment of a female vineyard manager, Robyn Robertson, former vineyard manager at Sirromet Wines. She brings more than 30 years of viticultural expertise to the estate, and has spent her entire life on the land at Ballandean.

“I am thrilled to be at Ballandean Estate, the Puglisis have welcomed me into their family. When I heard that there was an opening, the opportunity to learn in the presence of Queensland’s father of wine Angelo Puglisi was just too good to pass up,” she said. “Ballandean Estate has a rich history of empowered women in wine. Leeanne Puglisi-Gangemi was recently voted onto the Winemaker’s Federation board, and is Queensland’s first female voice and vote.”

Robyn continues, stating that the Ballandean Estate’s matriarch and wine pioneer, Mary Pugsli, “has spent over 50 years looking after tourists and has won the prestigious Samuel Basset award for her contribution to the Queensland Wine Industry”. She also mentions the origins of the estate, stating that the Josephine, mother of the owner and manager Angelo, “went on to build the foundation of Ballandean Estate with her father and husband over four decades. She stared down the Australian army demanding to put her husband and father in internment camps and surrender of farm machinery during World War Two, and instead, she negotiated a deal to supply their crops to feed the Army as an alternative. Inspirational!”

“Ballandean Estate’s Business and Export Manager Robyn Puglisi-Henderson has developed the export trade from zero to 20% of our business turnover in just five years, and has opened up our export trade to China, where there is significant demand for our premium reds,” says Robertson. “Twisted Gum owner Michelle Coelli has been an outstanding support to the local industry. She’s great to talk to, and runs monthly farm walks at different vineyards. Sue Smith from Pyramid Wines is another Granite Belt woman in the industry I admire.

Robyn came on board mid-vintage and experienced a baptism of fire in an incredibly challenging season, with the Girraween bushfires blazing. Her influential position is made even more remarkable when despite gender-equal enrolments in wine and viticulture courses, women make up less than 10 per cent of the wine industry workforce, according to a large-scale Australian study by Jeremy Galbreath for Research in Agricultural and Applied Economics, Women in top roles in the wine industry: Forging ahead or falling behind? Representation of women in leadership and senior roles is even smaller.

Reader’s also enjoyed Senator Bridget McKenzie making history as Australia’s first female Minister for Agriculture.