International Women's Day with Howard Park Wines
- Howard Park
Celebrated in March every year, International Women’s Day is a global day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, whilst also calling to accelerate gender parity.
For Howard Park, International Women’s Day has particular meaning. As a family-owned winery, women take up leading roles within the business, and are key drivers in propelling the company forward.
Amy Burch is one of Howard Park’s greatest champions, imbuing passion and expertise at all levels.
While Chief Winemaker Janice McDonald rounds out the team with her combination of authenticity, ambition and modesty; achieving great accolades in her 7-year tenure to date & constantly steering the wines into new stylistic territory.
We take a look at some of their achievements and get their reflections on what the day means to them.
As described by her husband Jeff: “Amy Burch has been and still is the glue holding Howard Park together since inception. She designed the building, managed marketing and has supported me in all aspects of Howard Park since its inception.”
Influences of Amy are apparent everywhere, from the award-winning Feng Shui architecture of cellar door, inspired by her Singaporean-Chinese heritage, through to the winged serpent on the Howard Park logo (Amy is the year of the dragon in Chinese astrology).
She had a talent for language from a young age, speaking Hokkien & Teochew Chinese, Malay & Mandarin before age 12. In later years she learned Italian and French, before becoming fluent in Japanese as part of her university-level Asian studies.
What does international Women’s Day mean to you?
Never lose your femineity. We do things differently to males, we approach things from a different angle and that’s ok because we need diversity in our approaches to business. We should celebrate this. What you have to offer is plenty good enough.
Which women do you admire?
This might seem a slightly obscure one but – Helen Keller. She was an American author, political activist and lecturer. She was also the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. I was fascinated with her as a young girl and it has stuck with me until this day. I cannot imagine what it must be like to not have use of two of your main senses, and the fact that she not only survived through adversity, she triumphed.
What advice would you give younger women staring in the wine industry?
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. You’ll find a way to do it if you want to. Knock backs should be viewed as a learning curve. You won’t always get it right but you will learn from failure. And work hard.
Natalie defines Janice as a “legend winemaker” in Margaret River. “She demands a high standard, but those who have worked with her and work within those standards, love her,” she said.
Using words like “tough”, “creative” & “driven”, Nat appreciates Janice for pushing Howard Park’s winemaking into completely new directions.
“A lot of our wines are better than they’ve ever been. The style is more pure than in the past. There is intense purity,” she said.
Janice began at Howard Park in 2011, culminating an illustrious career as founder & winemaker of Stella Bella Wines for a decade, Senior Winemaker at Devil’s Lair for eight years, Head Brewer at Matilda Bay & the founding Senior Brewer of Little Creature’s.
Her biggest shift in mindset in moving to Howard Park was to embrace the Great Southern as a wine region with all the possibilities & varieties that entailed, after being so staunchly Margaret River-focused.
“Howard Park had always, from a reputation point of view, produced high quality wines,” Janice said. “The breadth of wines, and a lot of different wines on different levels, is quite interesting.
“The things that were daunting were also the things I was keen on. You could consider them daunting or you could consider them a challenge.”
Janice is never one to shy from a challenge and continues to drive our wines forward.