A highly experienced and respected winemaker and consultant, Samantha Connew launched her Tasmanian solo project Stargazer in 2013. Prior to this she worked across applied research, development and extension for the Australian Wine Research Institute as manager of the Hunter Valley Node. She was the winemaker and manager of boutique Hunter Valley winery Tower Estate, a role that followed ten years in McLaren Vale as senior winemaker at Wirra Wirra Vineyards.
Amongst her many achievements, she has twice been nominated by the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology as Winemaker of the Year, as well as twice being a finalist for Gourmet Traveller Wine’s Winemaker Award. In 2022, Stargazer was recognised was a finalist in the Halliday Wine Companion Awards for Winery of the Year, and was nominated in 2023 for Winemaker of the Year.
She has served on the boards of several regional associations, was board member of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology, and a founding advisory board member of the Australian Women in Wine Awards. She is currently a director on the Wine Tasmania Board and a mentor in the Wine Communicators of Australia Mentor Program.
Connew is a highly respected wine show judge and has chaired many regional and capital city wine shows, having completed both the AWRI’s Advanced Wine Assessment Course and the Len Evans Tutorial, where she continues her involvement as board member, tutor and a member of the working group.
In 2014 she was appointed Chair of Judges at the Sydney Royal Wine Show and was the first female and youngest judge in the position.
In 2016 Connew acquired a small vineyard and olive grove in the Coal River Valley, found north-east of Hobart. Under her stewardship, the vineyard was awarded Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year in May 2019.