When she left the country and moved to Australia as a student, little did she know that a few years down the line she would be one of the pacesetters in the wine industry.
It is now more than a decade since Lucia Goodwin left the country and it is hard to believe that at only 28, she is the co-owner of one of the fastest growing wineries in Australia.
Located in Melbourne Australia, Zhiro Wines is giving experienced competitors a run for their money, concentrating mostly on sparkling wine, quite a demand especially during warm weather. “Our flavours are mainly lemon, strawberry and honeyed cream,” she adds.
With only two years since it started operations, the company has over 40 employees and produces between 32,000 and 40,000 litres of wine every two months.
“This is quite an improvement considering that I started off with a production of 7,000 litres of wine during the same period,” she says.
Her huge share of the market at the moment is in Australia, some parts of Europe, Middle East and now Africa.
“It has been my dream to also enter into the Kenyan market but due to some challenges here and there, we’ve decided to first postpone the venture, opting to concentrate on supplying our products to events. However, we hope to officially venture into the Nigerian market in two weeks’,” she explains last week.
What gives her an edge in the business is the level of her understanding of the whole wine-making process.
“I am personally involved in the whole process, from pruning to different fermentation stages. I am also aware of which wine to put to the market depending on when it was blended,” she notes.
“I also understand that wine ages at different times, distinct seasons and depending on the type whether it’s red or white.”
She is also a shareholder of a 750 vineyard that supplies the grapes for her company. The vineyard is located in Adelaide Hills, Australia’s premier cool climate wine region nestled on a plateau, 425 metres above sea level.
The cool climate and high altitude, she says, is ideal for sparkling wine production, with slow, gentle ripening, ancient soils and wine made with “a soft footprint on the environment”.
“Before I started this business, the Australian regulations required me, like any other entrepreneur with intentions of venturing into the business to produce a certain minimum amount of wine. I didn’t have the capacity to do that, so I had to team up with this family that owned a vineyard,” she says.
“They helped me out in the production before I got up on my feet, and later I was able to acquire a certain percentage of the farm.”
Her passion for winery began way back while she was studying.
“My first job was in occupation therapy where I would visit clients at their homes which I noticed were mostly named after vineyards. This sparked some curiosity in me thus my interest in the industry,” she explains.
During this period, she also found herself acquiring a habit of tasting various brands of wine, participating and winning in mystery bottles competition where she would do extremely well in tasting and identifying different brands of wine.
It is during this period that she got a consultancy job with a winery in Australia, where her job description included blending wine, as well as selling it in various parts of the world.
“I was so good at selling this product that I felt I could be more resourceful if I could direct that effort and expertise to my own company,” she explains.
In June 2016 she started Zhiro Wines.
Her main challenge however has been trying to prove herself as a serious business woman in a conspicuously male dominated industry.
“Being a woman and black, and from a country that is not known for wine production, it hasn’t been easy competing with for instance Italian and French products,” she reveals.
But that doesn’t seem to dim her dream of taking her products to the global market and making them a roaring success.