DI MILLER

Halliday - - Cover Story -

ROLE

Wine­maker/op­er­a­tions man­ager, Bel­larmine Wines, Pem­ber­ton, WA

FOR­MER CA­REER

Vet, in the UK, also later work­ing with os­triches in WA

EARLY CA­REER GOAL

In­ter­preter for the United Na­tions, or an ar­chae­ol­o­gist

THE EPIPHANY

Af­ter Di’s fa­ther died, she re­alised life was too short to ig­nore her grow­ing pas­sion for wine. IT WAS A last-minute de­ci­sion dur­ing Di Miller’s fi­nal school year that led to her pur­su­ing vet­eri­nary sci­ence. Un­til then, lan­guages had cap­tured her imag­i­na­tion, as well as the idea of dig­ging for fos­sils.

But hav­ing al­ways loved an­i­mals and sci­ence, the ca­reer di­rec­tion made sense – and she loved the work. “I do miss it,” Di ad­mits. “You get some clients who are so heart-warm­ing. I re­mem­ber this lit­tle old lady and her cav­a­lier that had a heart prob­lem. She saw me in the street one day and gave me a big hug to thank me.” Di made the move to the UK straight af­ter uni in her home state of West­ern Aus­tralia, soon treat­ing farm an­i­mals in ru­ral Not­ting­hamshire and later, pets in London. In her down­time, Di was busy dis­cov­er­ing wine through reg­u­lar vis­its to the re­tailer Od­dbins and trav­els to nearby wine re­gions. “I’d been get­ting a bit dis­tracted by wine and got to the point in my ca­reer where I needed to buy a vet­eri­nary prac­tice, but couldn’t see my­self as a prac­tice owner,” she says. “Then my fa­ther died. It was quite quick and he was only rel­a­tively young, so I just thought, if you’re go­ing to do some­thing, go for it!

Life is too short.”

So Di ap­plied for a wine­mak­ing course and re­turned to univer­sity in her early 30s. “I was grin­ning the whole time,” she re­calls. Fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion, Di worked as a con­tract wine­maker in WA, which in­cluded pro­duc­tion for Pem­ber­ton’s Bel­larmine Wines. This led to a full-time role within the win­ery about 10 years ago. “We’re very much into sus­tain­abil­ity and bio­di­ver­sity, and re­spect­ing the land. We’re in a very beau­ti­ful spot and want to take care of it for the fu­ture,” she says.

Con­sid­ered ries­ling pioneers for the re­gion, Bel­larmine pro­duces three styles of the va­ri­ety, pro­vid­ing end­less in­spi­ra­tion for Di. Her favourite en­coun­ters at trade shows are with peo­ple who don't like ries­ling. “It’s ex­cit­ing to con­vert peo­ple to it,” she says. “I love im­prov­ing peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ence with wine and I’m pas­sion­ate about ed­u­ca­tion.” So much so, Di is study­ing for her sMaster of Wine. And hav­ing re­cently bought a house in Bur­gundy, she is ex­cited about spend­ing more time there, par­tic­u­larly with her daugh­ter who is keen to fol­low in Di’s wine­mak­ing foot­steps. “I was thrilled when she told me that be­cause it’s such a great job!” Di says. “It brings art and sci­ence to­gether, and you work with such in­ter­est­ing chal­lenges.”

“I’d been get­ting a bit dis­tracted by wine and got to the point in my ca­reer where I needed to buy a vet­eri­nary prac­tice, but couldn’t see my­self as a prac­tice owner.”

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