Australia has a long history of wine production, dating back around 200 years. In that time, the country has built a reputation for quality offerings that can compete globally.\r\n\r\nBut broad understanding of Australia\u2019s winemaking origins, especially the influence of Aboriginal culture, is sparse, and the contributions of the First Nations People of Australia are often overlooked or undervalued.\r\n\r\nTo understand more about the country\u2019s drinks history and its impact on Australia\u2019s wine world today, Contributing Editor Christina Pickard speaks to drinks industry veterans Curly Haslam-Coates and Gary Green.\r\n\r\nHaslam-Coates is a wine and spirit educator located in Tasmania. She founded Vintage Tasmania to promote the drinks culture, and especially sparkling wines, of Tassie, and is the state\u2019s only provider of Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) classes. Haslam-Coates also founded The Whole Bunch Collective in late 2020 to tackle the lack of representation and diversity in the Australian and New Zealand wine industry.\r\n\r\nGreen is the co-owner of Australia's only Aboriginal-owned winery, Mount Yengo Wines, in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Launched as Gondwana Wines in 2016 and rebranded to Mount Yengo in 2019, the brand labels feature art from Indigenous Australians and, for each bottle sold, donations are made to the artist as well as to the National Indigenous Culinary Institute.\r\n\r\nTheir conversations demonstrate how programs and producers are advancing modern dialogues.\r\n\r\nYou can read this article for more information about Tasmania and the stunning wines coming out of the region, and also be sure to see our latest ratings and reviews. Check out this article for more about the impact of First Australians on the modern winemaking scene, or learn more about the revival of Indigenous drink way-a-linah here.\r\n\r\n\ufeff\r\n\r\nEpisode Transcript\r\nTranscripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.\r\nSpeakers:\u00a0Lauren Buzzeo, Christina Pickard, Curly Haslam-Coates,\r\nGary Green\r\n\r\nLauren Buzzeo\r\nHello, and welcome to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast, your serving of drinks culture, and the people who drive it. I'm Lauren Buzzeo, the managing editor at Wine Enthusiast, and in this episode, we're taking a deep dive down under. Australia has a long history of wine production, but the influence of Aboriginal culture is often overlooked or undervalued. To understand more about the country's drinks history and its impact on Australia's wine world today, Contributing Editor Christina Pickard speaks to Curly Haslam-Coates, a drinks industry veteran and a wine and spirits educator located in Tasmania, who founded the Whole Bunch Collective in late 2020 to tackle the lack of representation and diversity in the Australian and New Zealand wine industry; And Gary Green, co-owner of Australia's only Aboriginal-owned winery, Mount Yengo Wines in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales; for conversations about how Australian wineries can foster a better understanding of and connection to Aboriginal culture. But first, a word from today's sponsor:\r\n\r\nThere's a sizzling lineup of cool sips at Total Wine. We're talking summer's Greatest Hits you'll want to put on repeat like our top 12 wines under $15. And you can raise a glass to America with a star-spangled selection of pours made in the USA. Next, do yourself a flavor with ready-to-freeze cocktail pops and fun, fizzy hard seltzers. Pineapple mango anyone? Here's our recipe for a delicious summer evening: Take warm weather, smoked ribs, and just add ----. Let your imagination go grill crazy. From good old-fashioned hot dogs to turkey burgers with all the toppings. You can't go wrong with Chardonnay. And when it comes to seafood, salmon and tuna swim nicely with fruity and fresh reds. So no matter if you're cooking out or chillin' in, you're sure to find cool prices on over 8000 wines, 4000 spirits, and 2500 beers in-store or at totalwine.com.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nHi, I'm Christina Pickard, Wine Enthusiast\u2019s Contributing Editor for Australia and New Zealand. I'm talking today with two guests, the first of which is Curly Haslam-Coates. Curly, would you like to say a quick Hello? \r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates: \r\nHello. Lovely to see you. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nI wish we could really see each other in person!\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nOh, soon, soon we\u2019ll be able to fly again. One of these days.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nWell, thank you for being on the show. It's such a pleasure. And thanks for taking the time to talk to me about a very important, I think, but not talked about enough topic. \r\n\r\nBut before we begin today, I'd like to I'd like to start with what is known in Australia as an Acknowledgement of Country, or the recognition of the traditional custodians of the land.\r\n\r\nI'm speaking to you from the land of the Lenape people. I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners of the Lenapehoking land on which I now reside. \r\n\r\nAnd Curly, and maybe if you would like to do an Acknowledgement of Country as well, that would be great.\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nYeah, so the really interesting thing about the acknowledgment of country here is the more I learn, the more I realize that I have so much more to learn about whose country I'm on. But, in the spirit of reconciliation, Vintage Tasmania acknowledges the Traditional Custodians, custodians of Country throughout Australia, and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today. And I'm in Lutruwita, which is the Palawan name for Tasmania.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nThank you, Curly. So, today I'd like to discuss something that's quite a massive and complex topic\u2014as you say, still learning still learning, probably will never stop learning - but I hope that in this short time that we have today to distill it down somewhat in order to view it through the lens of the wine industry, and that is Australia's Aboriginal people and culture. How Australia's First Nation peoples have impacted the wine industry; how our understanding respect and sensitivity as wine writers, makers, consumers, you name it, can be improved by learning more about Australia's many indigenous groups\u2014 their history, culture, connection, to land in order to be better allies; and perhaps to be inspired by and to learn, especially when it comes to Aboriginal relationships to the land, since wine is an agricultural product after all; and to try and dispel myths and bust stereotypes surrounding alcoholism in Aboriginal communities; and especially perhaps to be a more inclusive, welcoming industry. So that's a lot to talk about! And some of these topics I\u2019ll dive into more with my second guest, Gary Green, who is an indigenous winemaker himself. But let's start, Curly, with diversity and inclusion in the wine industry Down Under, since you are a Person of Color living and working in Tasmania, and I'm wondering if you could talk about your journey to Taz and what it's been like working in the wine industry there. \r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nOh, look, I never expected to end up in Tasmania. So, I was working at Majestic wine in the UK. And we had to do our Level Three Wine and Spirits Education Trust qualification. And I decided to have a moment of academic glory, and I won the Vintners Bursary in 2007. And for my study trip of my choice, I came to Tasmania. And five days here really just changed everything. For me, it was such a strange feeling of being home. And then two years and a diploma later, I managed to come back. And I was very fortunate that even though I was over 30, I got a visa based on being able to teach the WSETs here in Tassie. So I was bringing qualifications to a regional area, because they didn't have access to the courses before I moved here. Fantastic. Yeah, look, it's been an experience definitely being here and also of not being of the Caucasian persuasion. It's frequently being the only Person of Color in a room, which I'm quite used to. But I would definitely say in recent years, it really has made me appreciate my privilege, in that I'm very used to being in very white environments. So I don't feel like I don't belong. And also because I'd already spent 15 years in the wine industry before I moved here. And so I'm comfortable that I know what I'm talking about. I still have loads to learn because it's wine and there is no end. So, you know, there will never be a day when I'm done. But I've worked really hard to get to where I am. And so I'm quite comfortable standing in white space and saying, \u201cNo, I belong here\u201d. And I've had to do that a few times. But it's also really interesting now that I teach, having my students talk to me about the challenges of having to be young, in as a young in the industry, as in not necessarily been in the industry very long, rather than age-wise, young. And being able to say no, I belong here, I have every right to learn and to grow and develop, even though I don't look like you. And that can be really, really challenging. And yeah, it's important really to acknowledge both my privilege and also, hopefully, I'm in the position to do something about it for them as well.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nCan you tell us about the Whole Bunch Collective survey that you launched, I think, earlier this year\u2014was it in March\u2014in Australia?\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nYeah, it was earlier this year. More than anything else, it's a mixture of trying to get information about who is currently working in the industry here. There's been some interesting pushback from a few people, which is good, because I think I'm definitely on the right track! I think that's definitely a thing when you realize that people are getting cross and uncomfortable. Julia Coney still says it best: we're going to have to have some uncomfortable conversations. And also, I think it's a real challenge for people who have never felt uncomfortable before. That's, you know, that's where a lot of that pushback also comes from, is, well, it's never been a problem before. Well, that actual statement should be, it's never been a problem to me. And so some people, and I see it in some of the responses, is no, there are no barriers to progression in the wine industry; No, everyone's got exactly the same opportunity, which, you know, from endless studies, we know is not true. And if it were true, we would see more variety of people in senior positions. So Sarah Andrew, who is an absolute dynamite over here, she does a lot of business development for the Wines and Spirit Education Trust, but she's also, I think, she's joint president of Somms Australia. And she had some really good stats, which I won't get exactly correct. But it\u2019s basically that there are a large percentage of women coming out of winemaking from the universities in Australia, but give it 10 years, and that number of women still working has dropped down. So it's that understanding that when it comes to diversity, this isn't just black and white. There are so many issues within that. Also, when you look at things like disability, and do we have access to Braille wine lists\u2014 if not, why not\u2014you know, it's it's all of those little things. That actually, possibly very simple, that will make a huge difference to somebody else. That's a lot of what it is is collating information and finding out, well, do you currently offer any marketing or information about indigenous or Maori people on your website? You know, do you have things in different languages? You know, where are you at at the moment? But also there's an opportunity of what do you want? And the most interesting thing is, it's looking at around 82% of the respondents want mentorship. And that, yeah, and that's really interesting, because these responses will shape what the Whole Bunch becomes, because it needs to be of a professional service to our industry that makes sense to us being out in the wild and out in the woop woop over here.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nAnd how can, you know, because I know you've been behind the Whole Bunch Collective\u2014it's really been something that you've spearheaded\u2014and correct me if I'm wrong with that. But relating to that, how can white Australians be better allies in terms of shouldering some of the work that it seems like a lot of BIPOC people are kind of having to do, or at least having to start, to make the wine industry more diverse and inclusive?\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nYeah, well, that's not really that surprising, because at the moment, people who look like us are the people who are kind of missing. We are the ones who are, I think, really are going to have to start proceedings. But I think of how people can be white allies, I'm really lucky. It's not just me with the Whole Bunch Collective. There're a lot of other people who've been helping me, just sort of here and there. It's off the side of a desk at the moment. And with vintage as well. We've, you know, everything's just sort of gone fairly light for the next few months until all the wines get put to bed and that sort of hecticness of summer is out of the way as well, for little things like, Okay, well, do we need to maybe get some really great seminars and webinars; I've got a meeting later on with Wine Tasmania and one of our indigenous community. And the lovely thing is, we're just kind of like, Oh, I don't really know what this looks like yet. But we all want to do a thing. And it wants to be done properly, and to be actually inclusive. And for not having the indigenous community just give up their intellectual property and again be ignored. That's, you know, that can't be an outcome. We don't crumbs from the table. But just to start, I think it's important to acknowledge that we're not always going to get it right. We will fall over. I can't speak for the indigenous population here. I can empathize, because I'm also a Person of Color, but I didn't grow up here. I don't have to deal with that generational stress in that same way, with people assuming I am a certain way because of how I look or how I identify. Right?\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nYou could draw a lot of parallels with Australia's and America's history of colonialism, in that when the Europeans arrived on both continents, they enacted systematic erasure of the indigenous folks already living there in staggering numbers and in devastatingly effective ways. So despite this, Australia's First Nation People and, of course, America\u2019s, along with their rich and varied cultures, are still here. They're still thriving. So there are about 500 different Aboriginal groups in Australia, each with their own language and territory and usually made up of a large number of separate clans. Why is it then that as a whole, so few non-Indigenous Australians are knowledgeable about Australian Aboriginal culture?\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nI think, and I speak as a British person as well on this: we know what we did. And it's back to that being uncomfortable. We know that what happened was, other humans were rounded up and murdered. And that's the long and short of it. And when they weren't being murdered, they were put into really oppressive situations. I don't know how much you know about the stolen generation where their children were adopted out and taken from parents. All of that is awful, just awful. And again, to this point, if a person has not really had to face that and have those conversations and realize that yes, it wasn't us, however, the impact of what did happen is still here. And yeah, I'm an immigrant here. And so is everybody else of European heritage. I'm just the newest one. But we're all still immigrants. And, yeah, it's very uncomfortable. And that's one of our big challenges. We're going to have to learn about the atrocities and acknowledge them to move forward. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nI also wanted to ask about the Black Lives Matter movement, because of course, that was, you know, huge here in June and July and really set off, you know, change. I feel like these discussions, I feel like, I'm personally, you know, from a personal note, having these discussions and here talking to you, in part, because of what happened with George Floyd in June, and I think that there are thousands of people around the world that could say the same thing. And why it was that moment, that sort of kick-started it when there's been, how many thousands of black people killed by the police wrongfully for forever\u2014essentially, why it was George Floyd specifically\u2014is a question nobody seems to be able to answer. But it was, and it does feel like it has shifted things, finally, and I hope that it will continue to do that. So, I know that Black Lives Matter has had a global reach. But I'm interested to hear about, from your perspective, what it feels like in Australia. And I guess I don't want to go on too much of a tangent because I realize that we need to refocus back on on the Aboriginal side of things, but of course, this all feels related. And it feels hard to have a conversation about one and not the other.\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nIt's entirely related. And I think probably Gary will be able to talk to, you know, probably with more focus, more facts, because we do have a disproportionate amount of incarceration. And that, I think, it was Pete Buttigieg said, the racism is built into our systems. And I think there\u2019s a real similarity to what we've got here as well. It's literally built into how people operate, how the police have operated, how, you know, just all those systems are set up. That meant that you're already sort of 10 steps behind if you're not white. In New Zealand, to a certain extent, I don't think they ended up passing the legalization of marijuana, and again you've got this disproportionate amount of Maori people who are being arrested for it. Whereas, you know, the white people were voting, you know, saying, no, please, we legislated that it is legal, would go, well, yeah, I'd get told off for smoking a joint walking down, you know, the road in Wellington, whereas somebody who isn't white would be arrested.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nThose of us who work in the Australian wine industry, in whatever capacity, are educated about the history of vine cuttings being brought to Australia by European settlers throughout the late 18th century and 19th century and then widely expanded in the 20th century by the floods of European immigrants locating to us. But the history books rarely mentioned Aboriginal peoples connection, particularly to the early days of Australian wine. So Curly, could you talk more about this? And what are we missing? What what has been omitted in this erasure that we've been talking about that maybe we should be educating ourselves a bit more about?\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nWell, the thing is, I don't really know what happened. Because that information again, it's that systematic erasure, right? I don't really have that information. And it's not easily accessible, as well. Because we don't have healthy links with our indigenous communities around the land. Again, it's that we've lost the that information and togetherness of how a site has grown and developed and been managed. And, you know, the horrific bushfires of 2019, that in itself also started, you know, a really important conversation about traditional burning, because, you know, much like the horror of those fires that California saw, it was just terrifying. And it was months and months of just devastation and loss, and death from these horrific fires. And we were in Tasmania which is much cooler so we were very fortunate to not suffer anywhere near the same way. But we would go days when the smoke would drift down from the mainland. And, you know, the sky would be gray all day. And you could smell that acrid smell of smoke from across the sea just sitting over us. And yeah, we did start looking at like, is there a better way to deal with this?\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nYeah, and I remember there were a lot discussions happening at the time\u2014and hopefully still happening\u2014about, you know, is this a very prominent case of looking back, and or looking currently, to Aboriginal peoples\u2019 approach to, you know, some communities\u2019 approach to controlled burns? And is that knowledge that should be applied more widely to wineries as well?\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nAbsolutely, and making sure that those indigenous people are being solidly paid and respected and, you know, put into the correct positions to work out those decisions, not just kind of, like I said, on the side of, are we going to take all your knowledge and then go off with it? Because that's just as bad. It's about coming together. Because I think it's very hard when you sit down and talk to somebody to still hate them just for being who they are, it suddenly becomes much more complicated, I think. And that's important.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nThe European concept of terroir bears a lot of similarities to the Aboriginal idea of Caring for Country. Could you talk more about this concept of Caring for Country and maybe link in with, you know, these controlled burns with some of that knowledge? And not appropriating that knowledge, but working with this concept of Caring for Country? How can that kind of relate to what we know is terroir?\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nWell, I think it's that sense of place. And that real understanding of how the river flows, and the trees grow. And all of those things together shape the region or space or land, you know, whether we\u2019re talking macro or micro, where the vines are, how it changes that particular site, I think that's where that that sort of lovely overlap comes from both ideas is that nothing is singular. One of our wineries, of European descent, but one of our local winemakers up here, he bought his vineyard which is now 35 years old now at Swinging Gate from a company that hadn't really cared for the land. And so his background is in horticulture, so he now has got to the point where he's brought a lot a lot of life in and he said, now I don't feed the vines, I feed the microbes in the soil. And it's just like, Oh, yeah, that caring for the land isn't really just about the vines. It's about having a really healthy soil. So I think it's definitely there, that caring, that thinking about where is this water coming from, you know, making sure there's still got the water for next year, and then the next generation and the generation after that. The passion, the caring, is the overlap. I think, from sort of both viewpoints, and I think it can be a really strong point for us to come together from one industry to other indigenous groups.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nYeah. So finally, I want to ask you about some resources that you have found particularly helpful in terms of learning more about the traditional custodians of Australian land.\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nOlivia at Blak Business is amazing. And independently, my best friend and I both bought the indigenous map of Australia. And so it's got a lot of the major different groups and what country they're on from around Australia. And, you know, it's that as a start as much as anything else. And also, I think, you know, with talking to Olivia at Blak Business, she's incredible. And that really important thing of not making just one or two people responsible for all of the information or being the go-to because, you know, she's got a business to run. It's not her responsibility to spend all her days educating other people on how to behave and what to say. And so, you know, that's been really interesting for me as well because as much as I'm a Person of Color, I'm not indigenous. And so I have massive gaps in my knowledge. But, you know, that's really good. And the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre here have been fantastic. And we have this amazing group called Nita Education. And I'm very excited because we've got a festival next weekend: The East Coast Harvest Odyssey, it\u2019s called ECHO festival, and they're going to be there and Trish and the whole group. What they do is they educate people about, you know, particularly on a food basis, but the great thing is they come in and they'll do proper ceremonies. But also part of that is to educate and understand whose land this is and how people used to live here. That's part of the festival is traditional harvesting, the new harvesting as well with people with the vines. So it's actually on the Gala vineyard property. So yeah, it's about finding more than one group. And there's also a real pleasure and enjoyment in learning more about my new home and understanding of the land and I know I've got a gazillion things still to learn. But I'm also making new friends. And hopefully I can, again, ease that burden of responsibility of education as well, along the way,\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nRight. And just to add one more thing in terms of winemakers and growers perhaps looking for partnerships or just looking for resources, the NIAA, I don't know if you've heard of that, the National Indigenous Australians Agency, provides a ton of resources on their website, which is NIAA.gov.au. And they have a Rangers program which they actually will include activities there and education surrounding bushfire mitigation, protection of Threatened Species, biosecurity compliance, but all supporting indigenous people in the traditional knowledge of the land so NIAA also looks like an agency that is worth checking out if you're a grower, particularly. But yeah, in general, as you say, I mean, it's such a learning curve. And, you know, I think the first place to start is really to, you know, start to, if you're on social media, follow people like Blak Business, support indigenous-owned businesses, and, as as winemaker is also, you know, start to sort of partner with various indigenous groups that are in your area, and, at the very least, acknowledge them, not to put the burden on them, but, to at least to start that conversation. Because I think if you don't start the conversation, then it's just being ignored or being swept under the rug. And maybe it's time for these conversations to start to be had, hence, we we\u2019re talking today, and both acknowledging that we're very much new to this and still learning. But I think that we all kind of need to be awkward and stumble through it and sit with our discomfort and, and hopefully start the conversations, certainly more than they have been in the past. \r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nYeah, and I was thinking about this the other day, because I was, you know, sort of thinking about what we were going to talk about, that sort of thing. And I realized also a part of that sort of separation, like when I started to talk to people about what it was like to be a Woman of Color in wine in Australia, it was really interesting, because so many people like, \u201cOh, no, everybody's really friendly. It's great. It's really friendly,\u201d and having to say to people, \u201cTo you\u201d. They're friendly, they're really open, they're, you know, they're always willing to assist or whatever. And it's very much like, \u201cTo you\u201d. And it\u2019s not that I don\u2019t have some amazing people around me, because I do, that is very, very true. But even people I've known for a long time starting to talk about these things. There was a slight, \u201cOh, I wouldn't know. No, I wouldn't have thought that would have happened, I wouldn't have thought that would have happened\u201d. So there's a huge amount of listening that comes with it. And also, most people, if you are white within the wine industry, and definitely white men more than white women, because I think a lot of women will also associate with what I'm going to say, is that they get to get up and go to work. I have to think about a role model. Am I behaving in a certain way, because I'm visible in a way that they aren't? Because a lot of the time, you know, and I think a lot of women, typically if you're a mother as well and you're still sort of forging ahead, people are like, \u201c Oh, what about the kids?\u201d. It's like, two people made these kids. You're not asking him. He gets to go do his work, to do his job. People are asking, say the female winemaker and viticulturist, \u201cWho's looking after the kids during vintage\u201d and all of those things, you have to suddenly become this role model. And you have to suddenly bring all this other intellectual energy into every circumstance when other people don't. And I think that's where we can start to understand the complexity of privilege. So for me, I never have to worry about accessibility of a building but if I had mobility issues, I constantly would have to be planning my day around making sure I could get somewhere. And if I had an appointment, can I park close by? Do they have a lift? Do you kind of get what I mean? And I think that's where people don't necessarily want to believe what's going on. But I think from my point of view, I need to understand that they've never had to experience this. They've never had to think about it, well, I am the only whatever in a room, you know, and it's like, oh, shit, okay, it's me now, isn't it? God, I've got to be the role model, I've got to lead this particular change or event or something. And if I don't do a great job, how much of that is going to fall on either my gender or my color? Rather than that it just wasn't great. And so it's those sorts of concepts that, I think, are what makes it important to listen as we all go through and make mistakes and get things right. And, you know, muddle our way to a better place. We\u2019ve all got different things in our heads at the moment.\r\n\r\nChristina Haslam-Coates:\r\nYeah, I think you put it perfectly. I feel like I'm muddling my way to a better place. On that note, I appreciate so much you taking the time to share your thoughts with such honesty and sensitivity. It's really appreciated.\r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nThank you so much for just, like, asking these questions, and yeah, giving it a red hot crack. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nThanks, Curly. \r\n\r\nCurly Haslam-Coates:\r\nThank you.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nFor my next guest, I'd like to introduce Gary Green, co-owner of Mount Yengo Wines in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Gary is a member of the Kamilaroi Nation, one of the four largest indigenous nations in Australia. Gary, thanks so much for talking with me today. \r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nThank you so much for having me, Christina. It's my pleasure. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nSo before we launch into the questions, I think you wanted to do an Acknowledgement of Country first, and then we'll jump straight in.\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYeah, thank you so much, Christina. I'd like to begin by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of where I'm recording this podcast. I am based in Zetland. in Sydney, that's on the lands of the Gadigal people. I like to pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. And I'd also like to extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nThank you Gary. So could you tell us about Mount Yengo and the partnerships and initiatives the winery is engaged in, in an effort to, as it states on your website, create a community that values bridging the cultural divide, instilling cultural understanding, embracing reconciliation and diversity and providing a unique social outcome by giving back to assist in closing the gap between indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians?\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYeah, it'd be my pleasure. So Mount Yengo wines; I formed the company and one of the underlying principles of it was to break the stereotype around Aboriginal people in alcohol, which is normally a negative stereotype. And it was designed to promote Aboriginal art culture. But not not only that, it's a great medium in which we can launch our culture to the world, as we've seen, you know, in our various displays. One of the, I guess, unique partnerships that we have is with the National Indigenous Culinary Institute. And in that partnership, 25 cents from every bottle sold goes to help assist young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander chefs through their apprenticeships. And those chefs are placed under the National Indigenous Culinary Institute into some of the best fine dining restaurants in Australia. So, I looked at it from, how can we provide social outcomes, but they need to be driven by commercial outcomes or they're not sustainable. And I think that was one of the big things was that we wanted to create a business and an organization that promotes our culture, our values, but it helps bridge that cultural divide, by education and educating. I think that's one thing with Mount Yengo wines, it's a great talking point, everyone who is around a dinner table or a barbecue that opens a bottle of wine when they try our wine and it's from quality wine regions, they go, well, what's this? But it's also more importantly about what's actually on the bottle and we're very lucky to have Associate Professor Wayne Quilliam, an internationally recognized photojournalist and artist who's had his work exhibited all around the world. And wine brings, I guess, a unique cultural perspective that it helps educate, but it helps also educate about the diversity of what an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person is like, you know. I know myself personally, you know, I'm blond-haired, blue eyes. My father is Aboriginal and a proud Kamilaroi man for Moree and my mum's Danish Irish heritage, but I'm still I'm still an Aboriginal person. And I think that educational piece of what it is to be Aboriginal or Torres Strait, all of them, and it comes from inside. And, you know, in my family, we have, you know, we have the saying you can put as much milk in tea as you want, but it's still tea. And, you know, I think it is about that, that education process about the diversity of Aboriginal culture. And I think, through education and understanding, I think we dispel a lot of the myths and we create a really good talking point for people to be able to talk about the serious issues, and some of the underlying issues and, you know, really break that negative stereotype around Aboriginal people and alcohol, but also, what it is to be an Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander business. But, you know, we're in a very competitive market with our wine. There're so many wine companies based out of Australia. And, um, you know, we're really pleased to announce that we just signed an exclusive three-year deal with one of Australia's largest supermarket chains for their Liquor banner stores through the Cole\u2019s group. So, you know, it's about being I guess, being a solution and putting forward, you know, everyone wants to report on all the negative stories. But, you know, I like to think that Mount Yengo wines is about, you know, turning the table and creating a positive story and a positive image around Aboriginal people and alcohol; promoting that positivity around and the interest in our culture and our art and that diversity. Like, if you look at the labels on our latest range from Wayne Quilliam, it's from his Lowanna series. Now, his Lowanna series is based on strong, prominent, powerful Aboriginal women. And those are photographs that are then put into an artistic format that are displayed on our bottle. Now, that, to me, is a great representation of, you know, the female matriarchs, not only in our culture, but in society as well. And I think, you know, there're so many positives that can be drawn from what we're trying to achieve. But it is all underpinned by, you don't get social outcomes without commercial outcomes where it's not sustainable. And we want to show as you know, true reconciliation is coming together. My business partner is not Aboriginal. So it's infusing our cultural values, our cultural understanding and our cultural knowledge, mixing it with, you know, our newest inhabitants that came here, and walking together as one. And I think, you know, I really pride ourselves on being a showcase business that shows other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that you can form partnerships with non-Aboriginal businesses, but then also showing non-Aboriginal businesses that there are commercial and social benefits that can be held when we all sit down, actively listen to each other, have an understanding for each other's values, and work together as one.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nThat's really well said, thank you, Gary. There's a commonly told narrative about the history of wine in Australia that involves cuttings being brought by European colonialists in the late 17th and 18th century through to the influx of European immigrants throughout the 19th century. Do you think this narrative misses out on the Aboriginal peoples\u2019 connection, particularly to the early days of Australian wine?\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYeah, I do. I do in a way, like, but if you look back, yes, a lot of the land has been used up in a lot of the wine regions and, you know, there was a lot of, I guess, Australia has a dark past or a dark history when it comes to, you know, settlement and resettlement of Aboriginal people. And I think we need to acknowledge that, but we need to also move forward and look at how can we integrate now, and how can we correct and move forward as one. Now, you know, if you look at some of the wine regions, you know, a lot of Italians, a lot of Greeks, a lot of people whose culture, when you look at it, has similarities with an Aboriginal culture: a love of family and extended family. And I think, you know, we really need to work on dropping down the barriers between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians so that we can have more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation in the wine industry.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nSo New Zealand, speaking of that, has at least half a dozen Maori-owned or cared for wineries but in Australia there seem to be very few indigenous-owned wine. In fact, is Mount Yengo the only one to your knowledge?\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nI believe to my knowledge it is. There was one, I believe, that was operational before, but I believe it's closed down. And I think I think it's an educational piece, You know, when I first created Mount Yengo, I remember going to some of my family members and I said I wanted to create Australia's first indigenous wine company. And some of my family members said, \u201cAre you mad?\u201d And I said, \u201cWell, aunti, uncle\u201d, I said, \u201cthat's the reason I want to create it, because our mob has to have the belief that we can do this as well\u201d. And I think, you know, our under-representation, I think, every journey has to start with a first step. And, you know, we've taken that first step by creating what we've created with Mount Yengo. And we actually have had a number of different Aboriginal Lands Council and Aboriginal groups contact us to see what they can actually do with their land, and how and what they can do. Because, you know, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we\u2019re asset rich and cash poor. We've got large tracts of land, some of it, yes, is unusable, but we need to work out how we can integrate our business model and do what we've done. Like Mount Yengo originally, before we had our own vineyards and soil and could work on our own vineyards, we actually purchased contractually off other growers, and we built our brand and pushed into the market. So, you know, we have to think outside the box. And I think we have to come up with the solutions first and put a solution on the table of, as Aboriginal people, how are we going to move into this wine industry and get better representation, because not at the moment, but the Chinese market for Australian wines was very big. Obviously the geopolitical climate is a bit sour at the moment. But, you know, if you look at Asia and the amount of tourists that used to come to Australia, they have a natural affinity with Aboriginal people in Aboriginal culture. And I think, you know, it's a great story that, you know, we are the oldest continuing culture in the world and our principles of Caring for Country and our philosophy of Caring for Country and Mother Nature. I think if we can underpin in our business and farming practices, those principles, I think, we've got one of the best stories to market to the world.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nAbsolutely. And there're so many parallels with Carrying with Country and terroir. It seems to me this sort of European term that we use, you know, when it comes to wine, it's really something to be able to link. So there are around 2500 wineries across 65 wine regions in Australia all the land that the wineries were built upon was stolen from Australia's traditional custodians. The Australian wine industry thrives today because of decades of European immigration. But this immigration had hugely negative impact impacts on Australia's Aboriginal people. While many of today's winemakers and growers may not be directly responsible, they benefit today\u2014we all benefit\u2014because of the displacement and oppression of Australia's native people. With this in mind, how can Australia's wineries better acknowledge First Nation peoples contribution to end connection to their land? \r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYeah, that\u2019s a great question. And, and it's obviously, you know, widespread about what's happened historically. And I\u2019ll say it again, as Aboriginal people, we need to put forward solutions for us. And that, that we're happy with and I think, you know, I know for myself personally, in the Hunter region, that's not my land and not my country and not my people. So firstly, I went and saw the local Wonnarua community and asked, could I have permission to, you know, be on their land and actually work with them and involve them. If I was on Kamilaroi country, I'd still go and speak to my elders. And I think collectively as Aboriginal people, we need to come together. We need to under community consultation, work out what what we want and then go proactively, and assist and educate the wineries and people in the wine industry about what we can do like, you know, I know with us the big activator in the Hunter region is we want to see cultural tourism, we want to be the change agent and the activator that brings people there. But then the local community can have businesses that thrive off that so they tell their local story. And I think, you know, for anyone listening who is in the wine industry, I'd ask them to reach out. Do they actually know who their local traditional owner group is? Do they actually know who the point of contact is? Have they invited them onto the winery to tell their story? Have they spoken to anyone? Have we broken bread together? Have you started a conversation to say, \u201cHi, my name is such and such, I own this winery, I'd love to invite you out to see what we're about and get to know you,\u201d? Have you got a relationship? You know, it all starts with a conversation. And I think, you know, breaking down barriers is one of the biggest things. I'd love to see both indigenous and non-indigenous people be comfortable enough to have conversations about how we can move forward together.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nDo you think\u2014and you've already touched upon this several times, actually\u2014but do you think that there is a sort of an elephant in the room when it comes to an alcoholic product like wine and Aboriginal rights in the negative stereotypes that many non-Indigenous Australians harbor surrounding alcohol abuse within indigenous communities? Do you think that there is some fear there, I suppose, in striking up a conversation. Could you speak more to this? \r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYeah, I think, like I said, when when I first created our wine company, and I went out, and I spoke to both indigenous and non-indigenous people, it was a bit of a shock reaction at first, like, \u201cit's an Indigenous wine company?!\u201d. And, you know, I actually feel really proud and privileged, as one of the trailblazers that actually helped break that stereotype down, especially with a number of corporates who now see the value in not only purchasing our wine but being part of the storytelling process that actually helps break this negative stereotype, or the elephant in the room, as you say. And I think, you know, as Aboriginal people we've been conditioned, that, stereotypically we can't do certain things or we failed, or we don't have the support. And, you know, it's one of the reasons why I try and strive to push the envelope with everything I do, to break that glass ceiling. So I actually hope that if I can get one Aboriginal entrepreneur that says, hey, he did it, why can I do something, you know, and that helps that progression. And that's what I really think as, you know, as Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander people, the more we have control of assisting our mob, our people, you know, brothers, helping brothers, sisters, helping sisters, and becoming more self-determining, I think that gives us the opportunity to make intergenerational change. And that's where I believe we can't look, you know, just in front of our face. We need to look at what we can do that actually instills intergenerational change. And I think, you know, we've got a really good opportunity in the wine industry, like so many people touch on the under-representation. As a business person, I look at that as an opportunity. I say, we can make the biggest impact because there is such low representation. How can we change this? If we've only got one person there and we get another person, that's 100% increase, if we want to look at numbers. So, you know, I actually see the work that we've done, I think you'll see a knock on effect. And I think it'll create pathways for other communities and other businesses to grow and foster. And, you know, under our umbrella, under our community wealth sharing model, which is part of our culture. We're trying to actively bring in others and build the capacity of other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses so that they can come under our umbrella, but then look at how they can grow and then move on to be their own self-determining entity in the future. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nYeah, that mentorship goes a long way.\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nCorrect. And like I said, we've got a number of number of large companies out there, that, you know, whether it's under the Reconciliation Action Plan or their Indigenous Engagement Strategy; We need to put solutions forward to really try and capitalize on that for not only the commercial, but the social outcomes that can be can be had by that.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nMany wineries use Aboriginal place names for the name of the wineries themselves or of a vineyard or a specific wine. Aboriginal art is used on labels a lot in Australian wines, too, some of which has spiritual significance for Australian indigenous groups. So where is the line drawn between supporting and paying respect to Aboriginal culture and cultural appropriation?\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nSo talk from Mount Yengo wines, with our artist Wayne Quilliam. We have a commercial relationship with Wayne as well. So Wayne gets a royalty from the sale of every bottle, which Wayne kindly puts into his own social programs, and Wayne does a lot of work in many remote communities. But I think it's about having that respect and actually having, whether it's a heads of agreement or a commercial agreement in place, but the commercial agreement extends to, you know, social respect as well. Because we've seen some of the larger companies, you know, depict indigenous-inspired native animals, and it's one of their signature labels; we need to make sure that those companies are providing a platform where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, especially in the local area where their business has a footprint, are actively involved in that storytelling process. They\u2019ve actually been culturally put forward so that they can tell that story, whether that is in the form of a mutual respective agreement, I think more needs to probably be done on that, because it is a problem that we see across many business levels.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nI mean, yeah, just in terms of some practicals, are there any tips you can give to a winery that is, say, already using Aboriginal and Torress Strait Islander peoples\u2019 art or using their name, some specific kind of practical things, you can say, \u201cHey, if you're thinking about doing this or you already have, here're a few tips I can give to go about this in a way that feels respectful and doesn't feel like appropriation.\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYeah, well, if you're going to think about using it, the best thing is communication and consultation is the key. So, you know, go and see your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander group, traditional owner group or the artist, and sit down and, you know, and talk openly about what you're trying to achieve, what you'd like to achieve, what would the artist like to achieve? You know, what is the story behind this. I think it all comes with a conversation and being able to sit down and talk openly and honestly, and, you know, breaking down the barriers. If you're already utilizing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names, I'd really consider reconnecting and connecting, and if you don't have that connection, you know, find out what the story is, find out the local people and rebuild that connection and that sense of community in the spirit of not only in reconciliation but in the sense of doing the right thing.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nAnd maybe also if they're not already, consider using an indigenous artist and hiring someone to do that art that is a member of the indigenous community in your area, ideally, I would suggest too, you think?\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nOf course. And look at, you know, if it's a local based winery in one of the wine regions, communicate with the local traditional owner group\u2014who are the artists who can tell the story, or if it is another, another Aboriginal artist, you know, if they're not local and endemic from that area, why are you using them? We chose our Wayne Quilliam and because we wanted Wayne to represent the diversity of Aboriginal art and that new modern abstract style of which it\u2019s photography and art fused together to tell these unique story pieces, so that we can go to a global market to show unity as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nYeah, and those of you not familiar with Wayne Quilliam\u2019s art, I highly recommend you go to the Mount Yengo wines website and see it on your labels. And also, I think, is he on Instagram or social media? I know I've seen his art around.\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYeah, he's on Instagram. So Wayne Quilliam has exhibited for the United Nations; he\u2019s exhibited all for America and Europe; He's got a few big announcements for some really great international collaborations that are coming up. He's a Walkley Award-winning photojournalist. I look up to Wayne as an elder but also a role model. Wayne has forged relationships and broken down barriers between indigenous and non-indigenous people. And, you know, the work that he's done has been absolutely amazing. He tells a story. He just brought out his new book, Culture Is Life. I highly recommend reading that. It's a showcase of all of his work in it. And it depicts the diversity of Aboriginal culture so beautifully, but it also infuses it with reconciliation. like it. You see indigenous and non-indigenous people in these photos together. And, you know, there are some great stories.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nCulture Is Life it\u2019s called, correct? \r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYa correct.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nCulture is life, Wayne Quilliam. Okay, I\u2019ll check it out. What wineries that you're aware of are putting in the work when it comes to education and acknowledgment of Australia's Aboriginal peoples?\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nWell, definitely Mount Yengo, of course.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nOf course!\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nWe'd like to think that we're at the forefront of that. In the Hunter Valley, there's some good little boutique wineries that are doing some good work down in Griffith I know of as well with some of the smaller wineries. I don't really want to call any other wineries out because they're so many that are doing good little things but there can always be improvement. You know, I know over in some of the big regions in South Australia, you know, there's some work being done there, but it can always be better. I'd love to see the Australian Wine Council assist with providing a platform where wineries have access to information for them to connect and get more information on how everyone can do better together.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nThat's a fantastic idea, actually, to have it all in one place and to allow wineries to more easily access contacts, as you say, just information and to be able to connect. \r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYeah, correct. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nLastly, in an article last year for Wine Enthusiast, winemag.com, you mentioned visiting Australia's far north to look into a native grape variety that had the possibility of being used for wine. And I'm really curious to hear about this on several fronts. But I'm wondering if you could update us on that.\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nYeah. So it actually stemmed from an exhibition that Wayne Quilliam was doing in Sydney, and a traditional custodian came down from Cape York Region in Queensland and said that there were certain berries and native fruits that he used to make wine. And we're currently investigating that and looking at how we can look at it from a commercial level or a boutique range, or how we can infuse it or how we can expand on that. So obviously COVID, last year stopped us from traveling to look at that, and with the wet season just subsiding up there. Now we're actually looking at a trip north in the next few months to continue that investigation and see what we can do. Because, you know, I think if you look at other native products that have hit the stage in other food industries, like the Kakadu plum, you know, is probably the most prominent one. I'd love as an Aboriginal person in the wine industry to be able to see what we can do to use our native products to further showcase unique offering that we have from the continent of Australia, not only as Aboriginal people, but through our plant species as well.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nWhat is the grape? My understanding has been that there isn't any except for one spontaneously grown grape in Western Australia that I know of. But my understanding is that Australia doesn't have any native grapes. Right? \r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nSo, it's an it's a native fruit that can be be crushed down that they use, so it's not it's not actually a grape. So watch this space and you'll you'll see a lot more coming out on that, hopefully later this year. Like I said, definitely with COVID it put put the brakes on being able to go back and go up into a lot of the Aboriginal communities. But it's something that, you know, we're definitely looking at doing.\r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nWow. My curiosity is definitely piqued so you'll have to keep me posted on that. And that's up in Northern Territory?\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nNo that\u2019s in Cape York of Queensland in the gulf region. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nOh, okay, Cape York in Queensland. Very cool. I look forward to hearing about it. Well, Gary, thank you so much for speaking to me. This is all really interesting and important stuff. And it's a conversation that I really hope that all of us can have more. So I appreciate you taking the time to speak to me.\r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nThank you so much. It's been my pleasure. And like I said, I look forward to hopefully being able to do an updated podcast or a story with you later with some exciting news, not only on the native varietals that we're looking at but also, you know, on the commercial and social offerings that we're doing within the wine industry here in Australia. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nAbsolutely. I can't wait to hear about all of it. \r\n\r\nGary Green:\r\nNo worries, thank you so much. \r\n\r\nChristina Pickard:\r\nThanks, Gary.\r\n\r\nLauren Buzzeo:\r\nWow, I am so grateful for these conversations and the information and experiences shared through them to better understand more about how First Australians have impacted the Australian wine industry, and how dedicated programs and producers are advancing the modern dialogue. I'll definitely be raising a glass of Aussie wine tonight to the past, present, and future of this complex, always changing wine world and the continued promise and evolution at holds. Subscribe to the Wine Enthusiast podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcast. If you liked today's episode, we'd love to read your review and hear what you think. And hey, why not tell your wine-loving friends to check us out too. You can also drop us a line at podcast at winemag.com. For more wine reviews, recipes, guides, deep dives, and stories, visit Wine Enthusiast online at winemag.com and connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at Wine Enthusiast. The Wine Enthusiast Podcast is produced by Lauren Buzzeo and Jenny Groza. Until next episode, cheers.