23 April 2024

Five minutes with Stephanie Helm, The Vintner's Daughter

| Claire Sams
wman leab=ning against wine barrels

Stephanie Helm learned winemaking from her parents – and she’s putting that knowledge to good use at her own winery in Murrumbateman. Photo: The Vintner’s Daughter.

Who are you?

I’m Stephanie Helm, co-owner and winemaker at The Vintner’s Daughter winery in Murrumbateman.

What is your venue?

My husband [Ben Osborne] and I established the brand a decade ago on an existing vineyard and winery, which made wines dating back to the 1970s. We make small-batch wines with a focus on premium quality that reflect the place where the grapes were grown.

How did you get involved in the hospitality industry?

I grew up in the region and learned to make wine at my parent’s winery, Helm Wines. When Ben and I were looking at bare blocks, this property came up and it was perfect.

I hadn’t really imagined going into the wine industry or hospitality, actually. I went away to uni and studied Arts/Law at ANU. Ben and I lived in Canberra for eight years, and we missed it. We were out at my parent’s winery pretty much every weekend. I just realised then that winemaking was my passion, so I studied for a winemaking degree at Charles Sturt University.

What wine best sums up what The Vintner’s Daughter does?

That’s a tricky one – it’s almost like picking my favourite child! The one that I have been most proud of in recent years has been our rosé, and I say that because rosé wasn’t taken seriously for a while, unfortunately.

I’ve enjoyed playing around with that style to show it can be something complex. We blend three different red grape varieties for that wine – a Shiraz, a Merlot and a Sangiovese. It is a bit like being a chef! The result was an all-season wine – which is really good in Canberra because we never know what the next day’s weather is going to be.

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What is your favourite or must-use ingredient when cooking?

Ben and I have quite a few vegetable gardens here. We don’t just grow grapes—we also have tomatoes, pumpkins, herbs and everything else. Being able to go out and get fresh herbs just makes a dish that much better. I love thyme in a lot of things, particularly in winter, and we also have parsley, basil and rosemary.

A hand pouring wine into a glass

Stephanie makes a range of wines with her husband in Capital country – but their rosé has a special place in her heart. Photo: The Vintner’s Daughter/Facebook.

Where are you travelling next or your dream destination?

We were hoping to go to New Zealand when the kids were young, but then COVID happened. That was my dream trip. I’d love to explore the wineries and see the beautiful countryside there.

Now, we’re just waiting for when we know the winery can function without us for a little bit. We’ve got new vineyards and things, so it’s hard to leave at the moment.

What is your food philosophy?

The thing that I love most about wine and food is just cooking and sharing it with people. I just love sharing it with people and having them enjoy what we’ve grown and made.

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What is your favourite cuisine?

My favourite cuisine would be Asian or Asian-fusion food. My brother’s a chef and has mostly worked in Asia. He’s in Singapore at the moment. I’ve been fortunate enough to try a lot of different cuisines with him.

As a family, we grew up with Chairman and Yip being our go-to for every special occasion. I still love going there. It’s like coming home.

What is your comfort food?

My comfort food would have to be Italian – pasta, pizza or antipasto [foods]. It’s the go-to after the harvest, and as we get into the autumn and winter months, it’s easy to pull together a bowl of pasta after working in the vineyard.

Who do you admire in the Canberra region’s food scene?

We’ve been so fortunate in the last year to have Two Before Ten and Clementine Bakery open up just down the road from us. They’re such lovely additions to the village.

Stephanie Helm and Ben Osborne standing in their vineyard

For Stephanie, co-owning The Vintner’s Daughter, with husband Ben, is a family operation. Photo: Erin Dando.

What would be your death row meal?

Fresh seafood. I love oysters, prawns and lobsters, so I would pair a big platter of fresh seafood and a riesling.

An easy one to finish: what’s your go-to drink order?

I am that annoying person who orders a hot chocolate, but I am actually very picky about my hot chocolates – they need to use real chocolate. It’s not all made the same!

The Vintner’s Daughter is located at 5 Crisps Lane in Murrumbateman. Its cellar door is open from 10 am to 4 pm (Friday to Sunday), and its wines can also be purchased online.

Original Article published by Claire Sams on Riotact.

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