Excellence in Small Business winner Stephanie Helm

STEPHANIE HELM: Owner/winemaker of The Vintner's Daughter in Murrumbateman
STEPHANIE HELM: Owner/winemaker of The Vintner's Daughter in Murrumbateman

Meet Stephanie Helm, owner and winemaker of The Vintner’s Daughter, 2018 Yass Valley Business Awards' Excellence in Small Business winner.

If the name didn’t give it away, Ms Helm was quite literally born into wine. Her dad, Ken Helm AM - former Yass Valley mayor - is behind one of Canberra District’s oldest wineries, Helm Wines.

Despite spending much of her childhood helping out at the family business, however, Ms Helm didn’t always see owning a winery in her future.

Sitting in the cellar door, overlooking vines of riesling, gewurztraminer, viognier, shiraz, merlot and pinot noir – the current range - Helm shared her business journey with Yass Tribune.

“I always knew how to make wine, it’s what we did on the weekends and during school holidays, and I always enjoyed it but never thought it would lead to my own business. 

“I thought I’d do something else, and Mum and Dad were always big on encouraging my siblings and I to do what we wanted.”

So off Helm went, to study arts law at the Australian National University, eventually becoming a public servant in Canberra.

“It wasn’t until I started in an office in Canberra that I realised how amazing the lifestyle of working in a winery was. I began to consider what I was really passionate about and decided I preferred being out in the vineyards and winery.”

Helm has been making wine since the age of nine, but to be a winemaker she knew there was more to it than simply following a recipe. It’s taken her six years part-time, but she is now well on her way to finishing in wine science at Charles Sturt University. 

Studying has been on top of a four-day working week in the public sector and three days raising a family and running a business. How anyone manages to juggle so much is surprising, but if Helm is ever short on energy, she'll turn up a bit of light punk rock to get into the groove.

Ms Helm also has the support of co-owner and husband Benjamin Osborne, who lends his skills around the winery and vineyards both at The Vintner’s Daughter and Helm Wines.

Helm said she's happiest with her family and at the winery, successfully navigating the challenge new business owners often find - choosing something they’ll love in years to come as much as they do now.

“I get so much joy from creating something; it’s amazing to look at a product of all your hard work.”

But it hasn't been easy, with Helm quickly realising there’s no rest for the wicked in your own business.

“You’re a jack of all trades. You've got to be prepared to do a bit of everything. You’re not just a winemaker; you’re a business owner.

“It’s made me respect my parents more and realise the importance of family.”

Kicking back at the end of the day, Helm likes to hang out with her husband in their new outdoor spa with a glass of the 2017 The Vintner’s Daughter Gewurztraminer.