1 March 2024

International Women's Day to be deliciously 'Uncorked' at QT Canberra

| Dione David
Lady pouring wine into a glass

QT Canberra Sommelier and Restaurant Manager Ashleigh Smith says women in wine are on the rise. Photo: Ben Calvert.

On a work trip at the Barossa, QT Canberra Sommelier and Restaurant Manager Ashleigh Smith saw two female winemakers at the 10 vineyards she has visited. She says it’s actually quite heartening.

“I would say women make up about a third of wine professionals these days – we’re absolutely on the rise.”

Further evidence of this growing cohort can be seen along the entire east coast of the QT brand, where most of the sommeliers are female.

Ashleigh and a clutch of her female contemporaries see it as a shift worth celebrating and have seized the approaching International Women’s Day as the perfect chance to do so.

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Uncorked: A Celebration of Canberran Women in Wine at QT Canberra brings Ashleigh together with four of the fearless females behind the Canberra Wine District’s most popular local wineries for a decadent three-course dinner.

“We had approached Chrissie Smith, the owner of Intrepidus Wines, about featuring as our ‘seasonal hero’ winemaker for autumn at Capitol Bar & Grill. That evolved into the idea of an intimate dinner for 20 or so people for International Women’s Day to celebrate all the women who are really helping shape the Canberra wine district’s profile on a national level,” Ashleigh says.

“Then we figured – why not take that message to a wider audience? More people should know.”

Kicking off with a bit of mingling on the deck outside Capitol Bar and Grill, guests will enjoy a cocktail made with French Earl Grey Gin and canapes.

Once seated, Four Winds Vineyard CEO Sarah Collingwood will present her 2023 Sparkling Riesling with an amuse bouche.

Sapling Yard Founder and Director Carla Rodeghiero has chosen a “very accessible” Canberra-specific Fiori to accompany the feasting-style entree.

A main course featuring prime rib and snapper will be paired with Chrissie’s 2023 Nero d’Avola, before a dessert of petits fours and cheeses come out with a 2022 “Golden Mean” Late Harvest Riesling, Collector CWD selected by Collector Wines General Manager Emma Shaw.

All four women will take guests on a journey, sharing a story or two about their careers as well as tasting notes of the harvests that put them on the map.

“Each of the women involved in Uncorked pour passion into every drop of their wines,” Ashleigh says. “I’m so excited and proud to showcase this to our guests and highlight the incredible Canberra Wine District.”

Tickets are $129 per person, with part-proceeds to be donated to local not-for-profit Karinya House, which provides safety, shelter and a positive support network to women in Canberra and the surrounding regions.

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Ashleigh says she hopes people walk away from the evening with a vision of what’s going on in the Canberra wine district right now, and in particular the role of the incredible women in the scene.

Ashleigh herself, who in her youth “swore up and down” that she wouldn’t get into hospitality, found herself drawn to the world of wine some years ago while working for James Viles at Southern Highlands fine dining restaurant Biota.

She completed her Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) training before moving to Canada to help open a restaurant, during which she did further training with the International Sommelier Guild.

Wine glasses on top of a table

This event lifts the cork on the women helping shape Canberra’s wine profile on the national stage. Photo: QT Canberra.

Now with Ashleigh in charge of QT Canberra’s wine offering, the hotel recently took out Best Wine List at the AHA Awards 2023 and three Goblets at the 29th Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards.

She says it all contributes to addressing some myths around sommeliers.

“I think there’s a stigma that sometimes comes with the position – that if you call for the sommelier, you must be ready to open your wallet,” she says.

“I’m not here simply to tell you to buy the $3000 bottle of wine.

“Next time you’re in a restaurant, ask to see the sommelier – you’ll see there’s no need to take a second mortgage out on the home to have an amazing wine experience. Especially in Canberra, where good wine and amazing wine makers are abundant and it’s so accessibly priced.

“That’s what drives the wine list at QT, and it’s another thing we hope to share with our guests at Uncorked.”

Uncorked takes place on Friday 8 March from 6 pm at QT Canberra, 1 London Circuit, Canberra. Tickets cost $129 – book here.

Original Article published by Dione David on Riotact.

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