Interview: Naomi Watts & Rebekah Richardson

Chrissy ON May 30, 2012 AT 10:08 am

I met Naomi Watts for breakfast in Brentwood Los Angeles.  It was a sparkling day.  Her hair was a gleaming platinum and we were in a blonde wood breakfast eaterie. Her accent is Australian with traces of England where she spent her first fourteen years.  She has the warmth and relaxed vibe that comes from the Southern Hemisphere. Recently when filming in Australia the people from Jacob’s Creek wine approached her to be their ambassador.

Naomi Watts

 Her face lights up. ‘Imagine, you get this box of wine that comes to your door and you immediately think great, now I can entertain. I can have some kind of gathering and that’s what it’s all about. The friendship, the lifestyle. You don’t want to associate yourself with a brand. You don’t know how to represent and I can say with conviction it’s absolutely delicious wine. I would be drinking it anyway and it’s a great excuse to get friends together. And that’s my favourite way to socialise, at home with a home-cooked meal. Being Australian it’s all about the lifestyle. People in Australia can just get together for hours and hang. They don’t need to be “somewhere”.

The clever Jacob’s Creek people are doing a range of delicious wines called Cool Harvest which are aimed specifically for women and by that we don’t mean the low alcohol content.  We mean made by a woman – Rebekah Richardson specifically for women.

I met Rebekah in London where she and Naomi came to a candlelit night picnic at the Orangery at Holland Park.  It was somewhat hidden away.  I had to follow a large peacock to find the rather lovely enclave where tapas and wines had been paired exquisitely. It featured Cool Harvest Sauvignon Blanc which was light but moorish, the rather more complex and fuller Cool Harvest Vermentino and last but most loved of all came Cool Harvest Shiraz Rose which was just enough Rose to be light, just enough Shiraz to have a  warm twist. The people at Jacob’s Creek realise that women are wine buyers; women are running the midnight picnics, the parties, the dinners.  The philosophy behind the range is about entertaining with lovely friends. I had spoken to the sommelier at Galvins La Chapelle who told me it is known that women have a subtler, more sensitive palate than men. Yet wine making in some ways is the last bastion of machismo.  What could be more boring than being a lone female in a group of men  toasting / boasting and drinking?

Rebekah in her dainty Collette Dinnigan  violet frock is undeterred and said she can normally be found in a much more tomboyish attire in the vineyard and is very much at home in her world…

Naomi Watts & Rebekah Richardson

Do you feel you are working in a man’s world?

The wine industry is still generally male dominated. Coming from a family where I was the only girl with three older brothers I guess I don’t feel too out of my depth!

Is the industry more geared toward men?

Probably no more than any other industry is. It takes time to address the balance of gender in the workplace and with an agricultural based industry there is always bound to be a longer lag phase.

Was it hard for you to establish yourself?

I don’t think so. I feel I have been very fortunate with my career and managed to work in a variety of roles around the world which have given me a broad range of experience all leading to where I am now.

What does you think about women having a more sensitive palate? – Why does you think there are fewer female wine makers?

Palate sensitivity is an ongoing discussion, I think that women tend to be more detail-oriented and this can help with tasting. As for fewer female winemakers – you have to understand we have been very influenced by the old world where in some countries they wouldn’t even let women into the winery as they said they turned the wine to vinegar!  Men traditionally also inherited the property and therefore the business of winemaking too so winemaking has historically been a bastion of men.  Nowadays with more new world countries coming to the fore as well as a more liberal view on women in the winery we are starting to readdress the balance.

Do men and women have different tastes in wine? Can wine taste masculine /feminine?

I think it is hard to generalise on taste in wine. We are socialised to believe that men drink big reds and women drink bubbly or white.  In actual fact in the extensive consumer research we have done at Jacob’s Creek, we found young men were the biggest consumer section for our new light and Sparkling Moscato range which throws this theory on its head a bit!

How did you decide this was your passion? How did it develop?

My dad was a diplomat and mum was a chef so we often travelled and spent a lot of time eating and drinking. When I was fourteen I was down in the Caves of Champagne with my family and I just knew I wanted to be involved in the industry. It wasn’t a straight path though as it took me a while to calm down enough to focus on University and such like, but I got there in the end.

What is your favourite wine and why?

Sparkling wine as it can be so many things and always brings a sense of fun to the occasion.

Do you ever drink cocktails? If so what?

Not so much but we have just created a new range of wine based cocktails to celebrate our association with Wimbledon (Jacob’s Creek is the Official Wine of Wimbledon) and I love the one they have named ‘Championship point’ which uses our Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Rosé as the backbone, with Cointreau, cranberry juice and lemonade.  Still wine cocktails are an upcoming trend in the UK and each of our recipes have been specifically developed to highlight the varietal character true to the Jacob’s Creek still wine used as a base in the cocktail.


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