Helen & Michelle (56, 60), Kerri Ambler
Helen and Michelle own Twisted River Wines in Manildra. It’s a small winery that’s winning big awards. It’s also the only one in the region run by two women.
Helen and Michelle both have backgrounds in palliative care. As well being Twisted River’s self-taught vigneron, Helen works as a nurse at Molong Community Health. Michelle, who looks after sales and marketing for the winery, works as a senior planner for NSW Health. She’s about to retire – something that Helen is very jealous of.
The couple met at a palliative care conference in 1999. Helen soon moved from Sydney to the Central West. Since she was young, her dream had been to own a winery. With enough pestering, Michelle came around and in 2007 they bought Twisted River.
The first year was almost their last. Michelle recalls their first storm, “I was working at home and was looking at all the rain on the terrace. I went to get the camera from the garage,” she says. “This sea of water came at me and straight through the garage.”
When Helen reached home, the destruction was devastating. “Fifty rows of pure chaos. We thought, ‘what have we done?’ We almost gave up. Then in 2011, we won our first trophy and it all felt as if maybe it was worth it.”