A South Australian win for women in wine at national Rural Women’s Award 09 Oct 2012

The Hon. Joe Ludwig, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has presented Mary Retallack with the prestigious national 2012 Rural Women’s Award this evening in Canberra.


Mary, from South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, was one of seven state winners at the gala ceremony and presentation of the 2012 Rural Industries R&D Corporation’s Rural Women’s Award.


Each of the state winners were recognised for their contribution to primary industries and rural communities, and their role as advocates for rural, regional and remote Australia.


Mary, a third generation viticulturist and Managing Director of Retallack Viticulture, consulting to the Australian wine industry was presented with the Award by Minister Ludwig in front of more than 250 politicians, industry leaders and special guests.


RIRDC Managing Director, Craig Burns said the Award was very highly regarded by industry groups, the Government and rural communities, and it was encouraging to see such a broad range of ideas, actions and individuals driving the future of Australian agriculture.


“I’m extremely proud of all our finalists. Their innovation and determination is an inspiration to all Australians, whether they work in primary industries, or simply consume our outstanding local produce,” Mr Burns said.


“Mary and all the finalists are our leaders of the future; breaking new ground and helping keep Australia’s primary industries amongst the best in the world.


“Mary has already made an outstanding contribution to the viticulture industry over the course of her career and her project has the potential to revolutionise the Australian wine industry and furthermore, change the way women network in the bush.”


For the past 17 years, Mary has worked in vineyard management, technical, research, consultancy, training and extension roles in Australia and overseas. Mary’s award-winning project involves establishing a website for ‘Women in Wine’ to provide support and skills development opportunities for women in the viticulture sector.


“Winning this award has spurred me on even more and I’m honoured to work with women in the industry to help them to meet their full potential,” Mary said.


“As primary producers, and women, we have so much to offer and it’s vital to support one another, stay connected and empower other women, as some great people have done for me. This is my way of giving back”, Mary said.


Mary will use her additional $10,000 bursary received as winner of the Award to expand her ‘Women in Wine’ website, which will serve as a central meeting place and comprehensive information sharing hub for women in the wine industry.


Catherine Marriott of Kununurra in WA was announced as the Award’s runner-up for her work in the beef industry and live export awareness activities.


Catherine, the WA state winner, consults to a select group of companies and private clients involved in the live cattle export industry, pastoral training and leadership capacity building. In August she travelled the live export journey to Indonesia with a group of women from Australia.

2012 Rural Women’s Award finalists were:

  • Mary Retallack – viticulture consultant, SA
  • Catherine Marriott – Beef industry consultant, WA
  • Annette Smith – natural resource management advocator, QLD
  • Fiona Ewing – salmon industry community engagement officer, TAS
  • Danica Leys – lawyer and AgChatOZ co-founder, NSW
  • Tania Chapman – citrus industry leader, VIC
  • Barbara Koennecke – aquarium industry pioneer, NT


NOTE: Images of the finalists are available by request. Email to request an image.

Media contact: Susie Buckland (Sefton & Associates), ph. 0439 655 715; Damon Whittock, ph. 02 6271 4175.

The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is an initiative of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation in partnership with the state and territory agencies responsible for agriculture, primary industries and resources. The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award is proudly supported by the Award’s Platinum Sponsor, Westpac Agribusiness, its national partner, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) and the Award’s media partners, RM Williams OUTBACK Magazine, ABC Radio and Rural Press Ltd.

Mary Retallack, 2012 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award Winner Profile

Mary is a third generation viticulturist and Managing Director of Retallack Viticulture, which offers a wide range of consulting services throughout Australia.


Mary’s Award and RIRDC bursary project is the culmination of a long held passion – to encourage more women into the wine industry and provide them with the support and empowerment to help them meet their full potential.


Mary is excited to see a new generation of people entering the industry who are hungry for the challenge. To feed this and develop strong links along the whole value chain, Mary is in the process of developing a ‘Women in Wine’ website as a central meeting place and information hub for women in the wine industry to collaborate, share ideas, mentor and support each other.


Mary is also keen to conduct a number of networking activities both online and face to face in South Australia with the view to rolling these out nationwide for the industry as a whole in the coming years.


The Rural Women’s Award has opened doors to a variety of new opportunities for Mary – she is regularly called on as a guest speaker at industry forums and events and is currently helping establish a women in agriculture network in South Australia. Mary says the Award has not only helped to raise her profile but also shine a light on the contribution women are making in the wine industry.

Catherine Marriott, 2012 RIRDC Rural Women’s Award Runner Up Profile

Catherine is a consultant to the live cattle export industry.

After watching the live cattle export trade crisis unfold, Catherine saw a real need for producers to be out telling their story. While much of the public conversation was based around the economic implications to the industry, Catherine strongly believed that as an industry, cattle producers instead needed to be talking about their values – the industry was talking, but it wasn’t being heard.

Following her passion to empower rural women and help create a positive image for agriculture, in April this year Catherine used her RIRDC bursary to organise and host a three day Influential Women’s Forum in Broome for 47 women from all over Australia. The women developed new skills in communication and social media to ensure that they can effectively influence and become advocates for the Northern beef industry. Women left the forum with a renewed sense of confidence and pride in the industry and are now a driving force behind the future of the cattle industry and rural and regional communities across Australia.

In September, Catherine travelled to Indonesia with 10 other women in the industry to learn more about the live export process by retracing the journey. Starting on a cattle station in northern Australia, the women travelled to the ports then on to the Indonesian abattoir before visiting a wet market and having dinner with an Indonesian family in their home to better understand the Indonesian culture and consumption of Australian beef.

Catherine says the RIRDC Award has enabled her to achieve her dream – not only through the bursary for her vision but through the support she has received from all corners of Australia and within the industry.