By Melissa Keogh
For fifth generation Barossa Valley local Emily Hay wine journalism is about more than clinking glasses with the industry’s movers and shakers.
Emily is helping to sell South Australia’s premium wine stories to the world as the inaugural Wine Communicators of Australia wine media cadet.
Since September 2017, she has gained exclusive insights into SA’s wine industry, attended key events overseas and met with high profile wine identities.
Publishing her stories on a blog, Emily is set to not only build her career and polish her communications skills, but help share the state’s wine stories.
“I think the wine industry needs more voices telling the stories,” Emily says.
“We have incredible landscapes and people know we have this incredible sense of beauty and purity.
“We have this sellable product that’s tourism driven – this is our future.”
With SA’s wine industry generating $2.1 billion in 2015/16, Emily says the industry is one that shouldn’t be underrated.
In 2016 Adelaide became a member of the exclusive Great Wine Capitals (GWC) Network, which recognises eight other internationally renowned wine regions including the Napa Valley, Bordeaux and Verona.
“It’s an incredible accolade,” Emily says.
“Internationally we are putting ourselves alongside the greats rather than pitting against them.
“We’re at the same table as Napa Valley and Bordeaux – all these incredible places that have a high sense of quality and pedigree. We’re equal to these places.”
In October/November Emily travelled to Shanghai for the Wine Australia Australian Wine Fair and China Wine Awards before visiting Hong Kong for the Wine and Dine Festival.
“It was a huge eye opener for me,” she says.
“To see Australia’s place in food and wine was confirming that we are doing the right thing and we can hold ourselves high.”
Emily says she took the overseas opportunity to talk about the diversity of SA’s wine offerings, as well as the regions’ close proximity to one another.
“What was really exciting was talking to people about the Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Coonawarra, Kangaroo Island, the Adelaide Hills,” she says.
“When you look at these places on a map they are all so close together.”
During her travels Emily met with renowned wine critic James Halliday and published a story on his take on ‘the state of play of Aussie wine in China’.
Her appreciation of high quality produce dates back to the age of 15 when she was working as a waitress for Barossa food identity Mark McNamara.
She pursued a degree in visual arts at university and has also worked in the tourism industry on Kangaroo Island.
Six years ago Emily returned home to the Barossa, working in a marketing role at Turkey Flat Vineyards where she wrote for a blog on the company’s website.
“I just fell in love with writing,” she says.
“It was my favourite day at work when I could sit down and write.”
In 2015 Emily was a finalist in the Wine Communicators of Australia Awards in the Gourmet Traveller WINE new wine writer category.
This cemented her decision to pursue a career in wine writing, and so when the wine media cadetship came up she grabbed it with both hands.
“It’s absolutely blown me away with how much it’s done for me,” she says.
“It’s ignited a huge desire in me to continue in this role.”
Visit the I Choose SA for Industry website to read more stories about key industry leaders, why they’ve chosen SA as a base and how the state is enabling them to succeed.