Orange winemakers Nadja Wallington and Steve Mobbs (pictured above) were always destined for the wine industry.
With years of experience helping out on their families’ vineyards, both decided shortly after finishing school that they wanted to obtain formal industry qualifications and started studying a Bachelor of Wine Science at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga
“Growing up, Nadja and I were both drawn to the work and lifestyle on a vineyard – we enjoy being creative and love being able to work outside,” Steve said.
“We both chose to study at Charles Sturt University because there are only a few courses for winemaking in Australia.
“As we were both from NSW, being able to study a bit closer to home was a huge benefit for each of us.”
It was in 2008, when Steve was in his in his final year of study and Nadja was in her second year, that the pair met at the University in Wagga Wagga. Today, the couple are engaged and are making wine together at their own vineyard.
“When we were studying, the wine science degree was mainly through distance, but Steve and I both lived on campus,” Nadja said.
“I got the best of both worlds studying this way. I even had the opportunity to work as a trainee for a year at Charles Sturt University’s commercial winery when I was as student.
“As the wine science course was a small one, you got to know all the wine students studying on-campus pretty well, and that is how Steve and I met and became friends.”
After graduating, Nadja and Steve went their separate ways. They both went on to lead varied careers in the wine industry working in vineyards across Australia and the world.
They have both worked in California’s wine scene, and Steve has worked in Canada, New Zealand and Germany, while Nadja has worked in South Africa and France.
In 2014, they were both back in Australia and found themselves making wine in Orange NSW.
“We always kept in contact both at and after university, and it was really only by chance that we both ended up in Orange at the same time in 2014,” Nadja said.
Since moving to Orange and reconnecting, Steve and Nadja have taken over Nadja’s family winery, Wallington Wines, which Steve works at full-time.
“We always got along really well and now make a pretty good team,” Steve said.
“Taking the leap of faith to take the reins at Wallington Wines and trying to develop the brand and business for our future has been the highlight of my career.
“My role is a varied one. I have the normal ebb and flow of the winery during the year from harvest through to bottling.
“But beyond that I am also managing the vineyard and doing all the sales and marketing for our business. It is a busy task, but very fulfilling.
“We hope that all the hard work we are both putting into Wallington Wines at the moment will enable us to have a successful and long-lasting brand in the future.”
While helping Steve to develop Wallington Wines, Nadja has also been a full-time winemaker at Philip Shaw Wines in Orange since 2014 and has achieved a number of impressive accomplishments during this time.
“Since I have been at Philip Shaw Wines, I have been involved in various regional and state wine shows,” Nadja said.
“In 2019 I was the recipient of the Sydney Wine Show Wine Assessment Scholarship, which involved a fully-funded position at the Advanced Wine Assessment Course held by The Australian Wine Research Institute.
“I was also the recipient of a fully-funded position to attend the 2019 Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference, and I was selected for Wine Australia’s Future Leaders Program. So, 2019 was a big year.”
Speaking of why they both love the wine industry so much, they both agreed it was ‘the journey’.
“Making wine is in many ways a creative pursuit and a craft, each year we learn a little more about how to do it better and each year we have the opportunity to create something new and exciting,” Nadja said.
“The wine industry is filled with interesting and wonderful people, so it is a lovely working community to be a part of.”
When thinking of advice for Australia’s future vinyerons, the pair said to work with people who want to teach and develop you.
“Try to seek out as many experiences as you can, both in Australia and abroad,” they said.
“Get your hands dirty, drink good wine, and don’t be scared to ask questions.”