Olivia Barrie, the incoming chief executive of the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association, loves her vino. Having taken over the position from Cheryl Lee, who was at the helm of the association for 20 years, Olivia knows she’s got big shoes to fill but is up for the challenge.
She explains: “Cheryl has done a wonderful job at the MPVA, which represents the wineries and vignerons of the region. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the amazing committee members, professionals, vignerons and merchants on the Mornington Peninsula. The quality of the wine here is outstanding. The pinots are fine, elegant and sophisticated and the microclimate has its own fingerprint. My family and I have been in Mount Eliza since the beginning of the year and love the lifestyle. Coming to work every day in Red Hill is pretty special.”
Olivia has impressive wine industry, marketing and branding credentials. Cutting her teeth as the UK regional account manager at Brown Brothers’ Milawa vineyard for eight years, where she was taken under Ross Brown’s well-wined wing, she then worked as global marketing manager of Grant Burge Wines for six years, at Yalumba Wine Company in South Australia for five years and then as marketing manager in the Barossa Valley for Casella Family Brands for three years after that. She also studied wine marketing at Roseworthy College and holds a Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma, which reads well on anybody’s résumé. Fast-forward to March 2019 and she has planted her feet firmly in MPVA winemaking soil where her role includes branding, marketing, advocacy and biosecurity concerns.
She continues: “I’m a northeastern Victorian girl. I grew up in Benalla on a large property where I fell in love with seasonal produce. I originally began my career in hospitality at William Angliss Institute where I was inspired to take my career into wine by one of my lecturers, who introduced me to the world of champagne. Landing on the Mornington Peninsula, which has such a multi-layered history of producing food and wine, is a real privilege. Mine is a broad ambassadorial role at MPVA. I’ll be working closely with Wine Victoria and Wine Australia to advocate our region’s position on industry policy and promote our region’s vignerons and their wine and will be focused on evolving the marketing and positioning of the MPVA, including events, promotions and our digital media presence. I’ll also be working with the technical committee on awareness and prevention of phylloxera, which is a small nematode that feeds on the root of grapevines. We don’t have it here on the Peninsula and we certainly don’t want it. Our water and soil health is incredibly important as well. There’s a lot to do but the only way forward is to break it down into chunks, bit by bit.”
No stranger to getting her hands dirty, Olivia is ready to roll up her sleeves, meet and greet the Peninsula’s wine producers and carry on the great work done by the MPVA. She concludes: “I’m excited to be part of MPVA and the legacy that Cheryl has left behind. I’ll be spending my downtime with my family foraging at local markets, walking some of the many trails on the Peninsula or popping in for a wine at one of the many excellent wineries.”
Hard work but someone’s got to do it, Olivia!