Humbled, flattered and grateful is how Canowindra’s Nadja Wallington has described herself after receiving a 2019 Sydney Royal Wine Assessment Scholarship.
The 29-year-old winemaker, who is currently working at Phillip Show Wines in Orange, is one of four young professionals recognised by the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show and Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Foundation.
The scholarship gives Ms Wallington a fully funded position at the prestigious Australian Wine Research Institute’s (AWRI) Advance Wine Assessment course (AWAC), a course she has been wanting to undertake for some time.
“The AWAC is an industry tasting that teaches you more about your palate,” she said.
“It helps you determine what your strengths and weakness are when you are tasting wine. Whether you are able to identify particular faults, if you’re stronger with white wine or red wine, as well as your consistency when you are tasting.
“I work in a team and having a better understanding of what I’m really able to contribute, where my strengths really are, gives me more confidence to be able to push my opinion in those areas.
“Most people who have done the tasting recommend it as an important thing to do in your career, what I’ll learn during my time at the AWRI will step me up a level in show judging.
But it will also give me skills I can use day to day, having an awareness of what your threshold is for particular faults is very important on a day to day basis in a winery.” she said.
Ms Wallington has long had a figurehead in the industry as her mother owns Canowindra’s Wallington Wines.
Ms Wallington said because of her mother’s involvement she always wanted to be part of the wine making industry.
“I’m a proud country girl, so I always wanted to do something that was related to agriculture and wine making spoke to me from a young age,” she said.
“It brought a lot of elements that appealed to me, I’m not someone who likes to be stuck behind a desk. I like to be physically working, it’s got strong chemistry knowledge and there’s an artistic element.
“Creating something that is a reflection of the person creating it and a reflection of the site you are creating it from.
“You also have a lot of opportunities to travel, I’ve worked and lived overseas for three years in California, South Africa and France,” she said.
Ms Wallington said she was excited about the future of the wine industry and the scholarship would give her a chance to give back to it.
“There’s a lot of young talent out there who would want to participate in this,” she said.
“The scholarship hasn’t been running for that long, it’s only in its third year, so as much as anything I’m encouraging the other young wine makes to go for it in future years.
“Something I always like to talk about is how excited I am not only for Orange and Canowindra but the Central West and what the produces are doing, particularly in organics,” she said.
For young people looking at wine making for their futures, Ms Wallington said getting industry experience was her best advice.
“Most winemakers are super friendly people and more than happy to share their knowledge,” she said.
“That’s another thing I love about the industry, is that it’s very open and very encouraging of those who want to get involved. So I’d say approach wineries, get some practical experience and that will let you know if it’s for you or whether it’s not for you.
“Wine making is a lifestyle decision, like anything in agriculture, you’ve got to live and breath it in a lot of ways because it’s long hours and it’s hard work but it’s very rewarding in the end,” she said.