FIONA TURNER Co-owner Tin­pot Hut Wines

Dish - - WMEN IN WINE -

Fiona Turner’s in­volve­ment in wine came about by chance. Af­ter study­ing for a Mas­ter’s in Chem­istry at the Uni­ver­sity of Can­ter­bury, she was toy­ing with head­ing to Europe when she stum­bled on a job ad for a lab­o­ra­tory man­ager at a con­tract wine­mak­ing fa­cil­ity in Blen­heim.

“And I thought ‘If they are big enough to need a lab man­ager they might be big enough to need tem­po­rary lab staff over the har­vest pe­riod in six months’ time.’ This would tie in nicely with fin­ish­ing up my the­sis, earn­ing enough money to get a ticket to the UK.”

She got the job, driv­ing up and down from Blen­heim to Christchurch over the fol­low­ing six months. “It was a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence, I had some great bosses, worked with all the top con­sul­tants and wine­mak­ers in the district, and gained a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence in a short time.”

Two years later she quit to get on the north­ern hemi­sphere/south­ern hemi­sphere vin­tage cy­cle.

Fast-for­ward to 2003, by which time she’d got en­gaged to Hamish (now Tin­pot Hut coowner). “I was work­ing back in Marl­bor­ough with a wine­mak­ing con­sul­tancy com­pany and he was a project man­ager based in Welling­ton. If we wanted to live to­gether af­ter we mar­ried one of us was go­ing to have to change what we were do­ing! Hamish had al­ways wanted to be farmer as a boy and was be­com­ing dis­il­lu­sioned with the stress and hours of his in­dus­try so we de­cided to look for a vine­yard to run our­selves.”

They found a 20-hectare block in Blind River, Marl­bor­ough, and signed the mort­gage pa­pers the same week they mar­ried in early 2005.

“We launched Tin­pot Hut Wines from the 2006 vin­tage with the sup­port of col­leagues in Blen­heim and the UK. We haven’t looked back.”

You wouldn’t think ‘work-life bal­ance’ and ‘run­ning a win­ery’ might ap­pear in the same sen­tence. But for the mum-of-two boys, that’s been a pleas­ant sur­prise. “While there are times of the year that are su­per busy, there are also down­times which al­low us to spend more time with our kids, travel and en­joy the out­doors.”

As for gen­der-spe­cific chal­lenges, the 47-year-old hasn’t come across any. “The big­gest chal­lenge I see as a woman is how to man­age your ca­reer once kids be­come part of the mix and that’s not spe­cific to our in­dus­try.”

dish.co.nz

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