We’ve all been there, gazing out the window, dreaming of ditching the 9-5 cubicle life, for a more exciting one. Whether that’s travelling the world, starting a business, or pursuing a passion. For Nicole Samodol, it was the allure of winemaking and a family business that encouraged her to swap city heels for country boots. With her corporate background, an MBA, and a love of food and wine, Samodol brings a fresh perspective to the industry, producing lively-wines at her boutique winery in Orange.
Having started a career in hospitality early on, Samodol immersed herself in food and wine but switched to finance post-graduate, earning an MBA.
“Finance and banking was always something I’ve been interested in, so I pursued that and ended up in the banking industry for 17 years,” says Samodol. “It was fun to do for a while, but I had the family business in Orange, and decided to move out there full-time, to build the business.”
Before moving to Orange full-time, Samodol spent many weekends at the vineyard, which was planted in early 2000 by her parents. She split her time between city and country, helping the family, and even established a wine label.
“In 2013, we made a decision to create our own wine label, we wanted to make our own wine, not just sell the grapes to other winemakers, so four years after Rowlee Wines was born, I quit my full-time job to run the vineyard.”
As Director of Rowlee Wines, Samodol took full advantage of the growing wine region, its high altitude, and ancient volcanic soil. She grows her favourite cool-climate varieties, including Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, turning them into elegant, aromatic wines. More recently, the winery added Italian blends, Arneis and Nebbiolo to the range.
“We handpick our grapes, and wines are made in small batches, so we only use the best fruit available,” explains Samodolo. “Minimalism and sustainability are at the forefront of our philosophy.”
In addition to business strategy, Samodol’s corporate background prepared her to face any challenges a male dominant industry, such as the world of wine, might bring.
“The corporate world is meritorious, so if you were capable of doing your job, you were respected, but I think coming from a different industry, I look at things slightly different, which can be seen as a positive,” says Samodol. “Although, there are people who have been in this line of work for a long time, and sometimes, it’s about remembering their way might be better.”
Samodol is also seen as a female winemaker flying the flag for women. She’s represented Rowlee Wines and female winemakers at several events across Australia, she’s won awards for her wines and was recently elected President of the Orange Vignerons Association.
“I try to do things that help people in the industry, and if that leads to progress in the industry, and if I can demonstrate to them that it’s possible to do this or that, then that’s a great feeling, but it’s certainly not something I set out to do,” explains Samodol. “To me, it’s always positive to be able to help and collaborate with other women.”
As a winemaker in Orange, Samodol hopes to solidify the region as a wine destination, and producer of award-winning wines, as well as encourage international recognition.
“People are recognising that amazing fruit grown here creates fantastic wines, and we’re starting to see great talent arrive in the region, along with businesses, so I hope Orange continues to become a wine destination for visitors, and those who want to pursue a career in the industry,” says Samodol.
Samodol and her team at Rowlee Wines are currently working on a new cellar door and experience centre for visitors.
“We’re so excited to be bringing a cellar door to the vineyard. I think it’s really going to transform the visitor experience and the way people enjoy our wine,” says Samodol.
Orange might be a younger wine region, but winemakers such as Nicole Samodol are bringing their own innovation and creativity to the area, solidifying its food and wine reputation.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.