The Rymill Team
Wine is made to be enjoyed, and the team at Rymill Coonawarra enjoy making it for you!
Meet some of the members of the Rymill Coonawarra team...
Sandrine Gimon - Senior Winemaker
Sandrine Gimon was born in Ardèche but grew up in the French Alps at Chambéry. In 1995 she moved to Reims to study at the University of Sciences, which annually selects a maximum of only 24 students for its school of winemaking. She completed her internship at Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin in Champagne prior to graduating in 1998 with a Diplôme National d’œnologue. Her first job was a consultant winemaker in Entre-Deux-Mers, Bordeaux.
Between 2000 and 2004, as a winemaker wanting to achieve worldwide experience, Sandrine travelled extensively, working in Romania, Swan Valley Western Australia, Languedoc Roussillon and Pomerol. She joined Rymill Coonawarra in July 2005, and was appointed Senior Winemaker in November 2008. Sandrine recognises Australia’s innovative approach to winemaking as a perfect environment in which to pursue her winemaking goals. Sandrine resides in Penola with her husband Jordan with their two boys Raphael and Marius.
Federico Zaina - Winemaker
Argentinean-born, but also of Italian, Spanish and Swiss heritage, Federico grew up on his parents’ vineyards and olive grove near Rivadavia, 50 km south-east of Mendoza City. In 1999 Federico graduated from the Escuela Técnica Ingeniero Arboit and then undertook a six year Bachelor of Engineering, Agriculture and Oenology course at the elite Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza. At the same time, he tutored at the Olive Oil Tasting Institute, Mendoza, and was an olive oil consultant with the Pangea Sociedad Anónima (Co Ltd). He also worked vintages at two wineries in Mendoza and one at Forestville, Sonoma, California, as well as undertaking a course in oenology and viticulture in the Friuli region of Italy, before becoming assistant winemaker at Poesía Winery, Mendoza, in 2009.
He followed his dream to live in Australia and arrived at Leconfield for the 2011 vintage, and then moved to SARDI, Nuriootpa later in the year, before joining Rymill Coonawarra in September 2012. He now hopes to hone his surfing prowess, and also intends to expand his predominantly bovine barbecue repertoire to a more eclectic culinary genre.
Josh Clementson - Vineyard Manager
Born in Canberra, Josh is of New Zealand ancestry. Josh boarded at St Ignatius (Riverview), Sydney, where he excelled at rugby, after which he was selected for the Parramatta XV. He then travelled to England and played professionally for the Leicester Tigers as a breakaway for several years. Returning to Australia he began his viticultural career at Orlando Wyndham, which was followed by management positions at Logan Wines and Huntington Estate, all at Mudgee. He then helped establish his family’s Skimstone Wines, and at the same time managed some organic and biodynamic vineyards under contract. He also undertook studies at Charles Sturt University in Agricultural Business Management majoring in viticulture and winemaking, and a similar Masters course at Melbourne University.
Josh and his wife Kate have three children, Amy, Morris and Louis. He joined Rymill Coonawarra in 2014. In addition to his family, Josh’s main interests include reading, golf, wine, and especially cooking.
Tom Whitehead - Sales Manager
Tom’s interest in wine began in 1995 working for a fine wine retailer, which led to his obtaining a Diploma of Wine Marketing from the University of Adelaide in 2000. He then completed a busy year with vintage work in the Barossa Valley at Yalumba, primarily looking after red ferments, and from there took up a sales position with Samuel Smith and Son in Perth.
In 2001, Tom joined Negociants Australia, the national wine distributor for Rymill Coonawarra, and worked there as an Area Manager in Melbourne, before joining us in 2007 where he is now responsible for sales across our domestic and export markets.
Tom’s penchant for reds and white wines naturally extends to his supporting the Sydney Swans on weekends, which is consistent with his own illustrious sporting career. It began with his winning the Under 8 Athletics Championship at the Caramut Primary School in 1984, and has never looked back. However, the time he now has available for football, cricket, tennis and golf takes second place to his family commitments.
Josie Abbey - Cellar Door & Local Retail Manager
Josie grew up on a Penola soldier settler dairy farm where her parents, Tom and Florence Simons, milked 50 cows by hand and had nine children. During World War II her father had served in the 2/3 Machine Gun Battalion of 7th Division in Syria and Java, and survived as a prisoner of war on the Burma Railway and in Japanese coal mines.
Josie was educated in Penola, joined the National Bank as a teller when she left school and was promoted to the loans department before meeting Stuart Abbey, whom she married in 1989. Their children soon became the main focus of her life, with Alexandra being born in 1993, Georgia in 1995 and Tom in 2001. All attended the Penola Primary School, where Josie was President of the Parent Club, before becoming boarders in Adelaide. Netball has also played a major role in Josie’s life, including competing at inter-league and interstate levels.
Living on her family farm, Conara, where she and Stuart grow fat lambs and have a vineyard, she is a close neighbour of Rymill Coonawarra, which she joined in 2009. Her presence is always apparent, being heralded by her cheerful laugh which is renowned for brightening everybody’s day.
Megan South - Export & Logistics
Megan grew up in Hallett Cove, and graduated with a Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree from the University of South Australia in 2009, followed by a Masters of Architecture degree in 2011. While at university she volunteered to help build a men’s shelter on the Anangu Pitantjatara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands at Mimili, 150 kilometres north-west of Marla, and a house for a poor family in Nepal with Habitat for Humanity, approximately 250 kilometres south of Kathmandu. Built largely of mud, straw and bamboo, with a partial concrete floor, it has easily survived all subsequent earthquakes.
She found herself moving to the Southeast for a job in the building industry and subsequently becoming part of the Hatherleigh Netball Team. Where she soon made enough friends to be able to happily retire to the sidelines, sip wine and pursue other interests. Megan has now moved to her partners farm near Coonawarra and finds her time spent helping out with farm duties, renovating a farm house, gardening, attempting a full time veggie patch and training her Border Collie Kelpie cross, Harvey and their new working puppy Kelpie, Smokey.. Megan was welcomed to the Rymill Coonawarra team in 2015.
Jane Ellis - Event Coordinator
Jane grew up on her parents’ horse farm at Valley View, part of which is now the Netter Reserve and is named after them. Educated in Adelaide, she was awarded a Diploma in Horse Husbandry and Management by the Roseworthy Agricultural College, where she also met her future husband.
She then worked as a wrangler and stunt-double on the film set of McLeod’s Daughters, as a trail riding assistant in the Victorian High Country, and a jillaroo on mustering camps at Meda Station in the Kimberley where she broke her back (as a consequence of a tall horse and a low branch) and had to be air-lifted to Perth. Making a full recovery, her interests turned to wine, and she obtained a Certificate in Wine Studies from the Australian Centre for Wine Business Management.
In 1999 she worked at Blok Estate and Heathfield Ridge, and was the inaugural manager for Yalumba Menzies before joining Rymill Coonawarra in 2006. In any remaining spare time, Jane enjoys gardening, reading and indulging in the occasional long lunch with her friends.