Sarah Lyons, winemaker, The Sparkke Change Brewing Company

People's thoughts and beliefs need to be informed and educated ones – this will allow for societal ideals to shift and will bring the weight and pressure that is needed for change to happen ...

Anyone that has knocked back enough bottles of wine in their time will know that the creation of every drop is equal parts art and science. While most of us would love to drop everything to run a vineyard of our own, the act of winemaking is not exactly a career path one can simply pick up. Brisbane-borne winemaker Sarah Lyons has done the hard yards to become one of the nation’s best, linking up with The Sparkke Change Brewing Company to become its chief wine maker. After connecting with the company’s ethos on social activism and universal fairness, Sarah jumped at the chance to help craft Sparkke’s latest drop – a sparkling wine served in a stylish slimline can. The ‘Say I Do’ sparkling is being produced to help spread the word of marriage equality, with a crowd-funding campaign currently underway to help get the drink into the hands of wine lovers across Australia. We spoke to Sarah about the beverage and how companies like Sparkke can help make positive change in Australia.

A career in winemaking is something that all wine drinkers probably fantasise about from time to time. What first ignited your passion and interest in winemaking?
I feel like I came to wine late in the game in my early twenties. I was working in hospitality and longing for something beyond the hospo madness, and when I realised I could relocate my life from Brisbane to Adelaide to study winemaking it was the perfect fit. I’ve always loved science and I truly believe that wine is the science you can drink with loved ones while eating great food! 

How did you first come to be involved with The Sparkke Change Beverage Company?
I think I have always been a fairly outspoken feminist in the wine industry and my name got passed along to the Sparkke crew for the position. Everything seemed to align for me and I am so grateful to be working with such a great team!

Seeing as you have a strong interest in political and environmental issues and activism, what was it about Sparkke’s ethos that connected and resonated with you?
Sparkke has such great core values of universal fairness, raw truth, social equity, individuality and inclusion. I really connect with these values so much and it’s amazing to work within a team who uphold them day-to-day. 

Talk us through the process of creating the ‘Say I Do’ wine range! What was the reasoning behind packaging the wine in cans?
Using cans for our packaging is so exciting to me – I believe it’s the next big thing for the wine industry. They’re portable, better for the environment and perfect for sharing as each slim-line 250mL cans is approximately two standard pours.

What was the biggest challenge in crafting this particular drop?
The biggest challenge so far has been shifting people’s opinions on wine in a can. The same thing happened around screw caps around 20 years ago, now 90 percent of wine purchased is bottled under a screw cap. 

You worked with Australia’s first Female Winemaker of the Year Rose Kentish on the project – what sort of information did she impart on you throughout the process?
Working with Rose has been invaluable! She has helped me to form connections and relationships with people in industry that could have taken me years to develop. I have also been able to have her by my side whenever I needed an expert palette and wealth of knowledge to draw upon.

In your opinion, how important are social enterprises such as The Sparkke Change Beverage Company in raising awareness and enacting progress through unique means? I think that sparking conversation around social injustices is key. People’s thoughts and beliefs need to be informed and educated ones – this will allow for societal ideals to shift and will bring the weight and pressure that is needed for change to happen. 

The Sparkke Change Beverage Company already addresses the issues of sexual consent, marriage and gender equality, the plight of asylum seekers and Australia Day – what other issues are close to your heart that you would like to see more attention directed towards?
Countering climate change by sustainable practices – small and large – is definitely very close to my heart. There are so many reasons why it is important, but as for why it is important to people like myself and other wine lovers, well, we can’t grow grapes that make the wine we love without a healthy environment!

What is something that you are currently finding inspiring and motivating?
I find a lot of inspiration by other activists, especially within the arts. Currently I have loved everything that Hot Brown Honey produce, even if it’s just following them on socials. They are radical performers who have great dialogue around blackness, queerness and feminism.

The Sparkke Change Brewing Company is currently crowdfunding it’s ‘Say I Do’ wine range. Head to the Pozible page to make a donation and to get your hands on the first run of beverages.


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