Where It All Began
I grew up in Sydney but have lived and worked in the Hunter Valley since I married a winemaker in the late 1980’s. Moving out of a city to take up a rural lifestyle is now called a ‘green change’ but apart from being in love with a winemaker, I mostly went kicking and screaming. Now this beautiful valley is my home. Andrew and I created a business, Margan Wines and Restaurant, based in the picturesque village of Broke. Established in 1997 Margan now boasts a five-star winery, 100 ha of sustainably farmed vineyards, a hatted restaurant and awarded cellar door.
Going back a few decades, I was born and raised in Sydney. After school I attended Hawkesbury Agricultural College studying a teaching degree (Bachelor of Applied Science) where I met Andrew Margan one night at the college bar. I am pretty sure neither of us was drinking premium wine! After a couple of years teaching, we married, and I moved to join Andrew in the Hunter.
I had always wanted to be a chef despite it being a tough, male dominated industry with terrible working hours. What’s not to love? So I re-trained with respected Hunter Chef Robert Molines. Then the travel bug hit and we set up home in Bordeaux, France where Andrew made wine and I worked as a chef.
It was here I developed an appreciation for quality produce, technique and the unique appeal of food and wine in the context of a premium wine region. We put together the blueprint for our future business.
After France (and a stint in Moldova in the former Soviet, but that’s another story) we returned to the Hunter, with a one year old, a continued passion for food and wine as well as a new interest in resuming study. I went back to Uni and completed a Master’s Degree in science and nutrition, focusing on organic food production. Another baby. Then a job I really loved as a nutritionist (hospital based) until going on maternity leave with our third Margan child. Yeah, I get bored easily.
In 1996 Andrew left his job at Tyrrell’s Wines and we launched our small wine brand, MARGAN. I always planned to return to ‘my career’ but found I had in fact started another one. My dream was to create a restaurant with an agri-dining focus so that guests could better connect with the provenance of their food and wine. We built a striking rammed earth restaurant and cellar door which we opened in 2007. Margan Restaurant offers a seasonally inspired menu based around estate grown produce from the one-hectare Kitchen Garden and Orchard as well as free range eggs, honey, olives and lambs from the Margan flock of sheep. Oh and our ‘small’ Margan Wines is now a 25,000 case brand which we sell in Australia and to many export destinations.
My background in organic food production inspired me to lead the business down a Sustainably Farmed pathway and introduce an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for the business. It is benchmarked to International Standards ISO 14001 for best practice. Margan is proud to be considered one of the Hunter Valley’s (and beyond) most certified restaurants and wineries for environmental stewardship.
Today, I oversee all business operations with Andrew, ably assisted by a passionate, committed team of about thirty. I recently completed my WSET Diploma in Wine and am enjoying a new role as sommelier in the restaurant.
I am a strong advocate for the promotion of food, wine and the hospitality industry. I am Deputy Chair of the Hunter Culinary Association and a founding board member of the Sydney based Women of Hospitality Organisation WOHO. I am a proud supporter of countless charities and am involved in many mentoring programs. I was proud to be awarded the 2018 Leadership in Foodservice Award for Women in recognition of my contributions to the Hospitality industry.
On a personal note Andrew and I have three children, now all finished university studying winemaking, marketing and business respectively and we are hopeful of ‘throwing the keys to the farm’ to at least one of them.
I live nowhere near the snow but love skiing. I am an avid traveller, wine geek, passionate cook and gardener. Yoga and meditation keep me sane. I like to take the path less travelled and sometimes I ride a cool little sports motorbike to get there.
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