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...
Shannon Sutherland - General Manager & Winemaker
Shannon joined the Rymill Coonawarra team early January 2018. Shannon gained his management experience through many various winery roles and also brings great energy, outstanding leadership qualities and highly regarded customer relationship skills. His winemaking is also finely tuned, having worked in the Napa Valley, Beaujolais, Canada, the Hunter Valley, Great Western and Marlborough regions.
Most recently Shannon has been working at the highly regarded and awarded Jack Estate in Coonawarra; over the last 6 years, gaining a deep understanding of the region and how to produce the finest wines from Coonawarra's grapes.
"I am incredibly excited to have joined Rymill Coonawarra in this role and, together with the great team already here, we will be looking to take the Estate to some new and diverse directions from the 2018 vintage onward."
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.