Winemaker Jo Marsh
Jo’s first official foray into the world of wine was jumping head first into an Agricultural Science (Oenology) Degree from the University of Adelaide in 2001. She made it through to the other side, graduating and also winning the SA Wine and Brandy Commission Silver Medal, R.H. Martin Memorial Prize for Sensory Evaluation and the Hyatt/Advertiser Award for highest fourth year aggregate. Off to a good start, then.
What to do next? Most people would plant themselves on a beach, caprioska in hand, and take a breather. But not Jo. She scored a position in Southcorp Wines’ (now Treasury Wine Estates) Graduate Recruitment Program, working at Penfolds Nuriootpa, Rosemount Denman and Lindemans Karadoc over a period of two years. In 2003 she was appointed Assistant Winemaker at Seppelt Great Western. In 2005 she was promoted to winemaker and took on responsibility for the traditional method sparkling wines, notably Seppelt Salinger and Seppelt Show Sparkling Shiraz, in addition to managing operational winemaking for red and white table wines. In 2007 Jo crossed the Pacific Ocean and worked a vintage with Beringer Wines in the Napa Valley. After vintage the following year she was promoted to acting Senior Winemaker, managing all aspects of winemaking on site.
In 2009 she won the Graham Thorp Memorial Scholarship as winemaker for the Best Sparkling Wine at the Sydney Royal Wine Show with the 2005 Seppelt Salinger – the very first sparkling wine Jo produced. And in 2010 Jo worked a vintage with Frédéric Magnien in Burgundy.
The year 2011 was a big one for Jo. She won the Member’s Choice and Sommelier’s Choice at the Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year Awards and was selected to participate in the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial Scholarship. But with a heavy heart, that year Jo made the difficult decision to leave Seppelt and went on the hunt for the next big thing. Turns out that thing was to join Feathertop Wines in Porepunkah as Head Winemaker, and this is where Jo fell in love with the Alpine Valleys. Jo elevated Feathertop to a 5-star James Halliday-rated winery and realised her dream of making exciting wines with exciting varietals in this gorgeous cool-climate region of Victoria.
After a few great years in Porepunkah, Jo began to think big. She departed Feathertop and in 2014, it was time to step up and realise an even bigger dream – to create her own wines under her own label on Alpine Valleys turf. And thus, Billy Button Wines was born.
Since the launch of Billy Button, Jo has been a finalist and Top 50 in the Young Guns of Wine and finalist in the Wine Society Women in Wine Winemaker of the Year awards 3 years running (2015, 2016 and 2017).
Most recently Jo has launched a new brand with her husband Glenn James - Shy Susan is a range of truly unique wines from some of Tasmania's most exciting vineyards. The inaugural vintage of their Chardonnay won the Regional Trophy for Tasmania at the 2018 James Halliday Chardonnay Challenge.
In her spare time, Jo is a regular show judge at Royal Melbourne Wine Awards, Sydney Royal Wine Shows, Royal Queensland Wine Show among other regional shows. She also organises the North East Victorian Wine Challenge and is a committee member of the Alpine Valleys Vignerons Association.