By Rosie O'Donnell

Cancer Muse; Claudelle Savannah

Can you tell us about your cultural upbringing?

I grew up on a small slice of rainforest paradise in a small town in Queensland. Mum and dad could not have been more different and each shared their own tricks of the life trade with me. Dad, the sweetest man I know, taught me how to build a fire, how to identify all the trees and berries and how to pass time by making leaf boats down the river. Turns out not great for dinner party chats but I definitely have this property and dad to thank for the extensive sensory dictionary I draw from when tasting wine (the combination of sweat, lantana and drum rollies will stay with me forever). Mum on the other hand was an opera singer from the city, she showed me the most colourful world of people and places and imparted life lessons to me firmly noting that rules were only for people who got caught and that the ‘Sound of Music’ is the only bible.

What does being a Cancer sun mean to you?

Moving house every 6 months, changing jobs every year and being a hopeless romantic. I feel all the feels, cherish physical touch more than anything and have all the love in the world for the nearest and dearest in my life. Except when I’m hangry. I’m flighty, a dreamer and extremely adaptable to wherever life takes me. More and more, and with every year that passes, I’m proud to be the big-hearted, vulnerable little Cancer crab that I am. I am a Cancer sun, Pisces moon and rising Libra. An emotional shit storm.

How do you integrate astrology into everyday life?

I will blame everything and anything on a current full moon, the possibility a full moon is coming, or the fact that it just was a full moon.  

Can you tell us about your journey into wine and where it's taking you next?

I fell into wine four years ago, when I first moved to Melbourne. I was faffing a bit with life, I knew I wanted hospitality as a career (the Cancer in me needs to be close to people at all times) but I wasn’t exactly sure what that was going to look like. My now wonderful friend, but superior at the time, Matty Greeff, suggested I come and spend time on the wine team at Ricky and Pinky. I instantly fell in love with the world of wine and that was that. The next four years I studied and got sucked into the never-ending rabbit hole in which the more you know, the more you don’t know. Soon I’ll be saying ciao bye to restaurants for a bit and dedicating some time to work on my own little business venture. 



What have been some of the struggles and the triumphs?

There was definitely one particular experience that was an equal struggle and triumph. In 2018 I studied many hours of many days for my Court of Master Sommelier Certified certificate and failed the tasting section of a three-part exam (Service, Tasting and Theory). Heads of the organisation advised against anyone re-sitting the exam again a month later, which was being held in New Zealand and to instead, wait another year.  I was pretty off that idea and knew in my gut I could pass. I spent the next month tasting everyday with some amazing somms in Melbourne who, ever so kindly, donated their time and expertise. In a predictable ending – I went to NZ, passed the exam and it felt incredible! 

Why wine? Why do you love it so much?

The romantic in me loves working with something that naturally comes from the land, by people who dedicate all their time and the passion, having their life dictated by the earth’s clock and forever being subject to unpredictable weather patterns that have the ability to make or break someone’s livelihood. Working in vineyards can be dirty, taxing, and monotonous but I’ve never felt happier anywhere else.  

The easily distracted, bored child in me loves that wine is a whole plethora of fields in one; it’s farming, ecology, geology, history, language, science, hospitality and the list goes on… I am never bored. 



Can you tell us the philosophy behind your exciting new project?

Lately I’ve felt a sense of frustration that the world of wine can be a bit ambiguous and can leave consumers feeling a little powerless when it comes to buying wine. In the same vein, the wine market can be a confusing place for the everyday person. It would be nice to see some more label transparency and more accessible education to keep consumers informed. 

Queue the birth of Wine Salvation, which will be a themed monthly wine subscription of four wines alongside an objective online education platform, which you can take as little or as much from as you like. It will be inclusive, fun, engaging, approachable, and most importantly the wines will be delicious and sourced from all over the world. Hopefully, once empowered through education, you’ll be able to walk away with the confidence to buy the styles of wine you enjoy. 

At (just) 28, I can honestly say I’m super scared and possibly underprepared, but I am ready to scramble and sink a few times before I swim because I firmly believe that some of the best achievements come from making yourself vulnerable.  I have a deep-seated passion for wine and I will pour my heart and soul into this venture to see it take flight. 

How do you stay motivated and inspired?

In truth, this is the most challenging and confronting of all the questions. About every six months or so I have a small (albeit extremely trivial) breakdown, probably because I’m a Cancer, but also because working with wine catches up with me - more than that ever-so-familiar and far-too-frequent morning headache. It makes me question the materialistic and exclusive nature of wine and the culture surrounding it. After all, it’s just a drink. I find it helpful to remind myself that wine, for some producers, is their entire livelihood and  if farmed and made the right way, is seamlessly giving back to the earth. It’s a process dedicated to passion and time and the opportunity only comes around once a year. To be a part of this community I think is pretty cool.  



What advice would you give to a younger you?

Get your head your heart sorted first (as much as you can) and then worry about everything else. Leaving school for uni at 17, I already felt like a competitive little physco, hungry for social status and eager to conquer the norms. No one ever tells you to slowdown, love yourself, respect everyone, cherish the right relationships around you and build a secure head and heart so that everything else around will follow suit. I would also advise less cigarettes, more sunscreen and to not waste another second with skinny milk.  

Favourite wine spots in Melbourne?

In Melbourne, I will forever fantasise about the balcony upstairs of Hardware Lane’s French Saloon. It’s tiny, understated and sings of Euro Summer holidays. The wine list is thoughtful and delicious and the steak tartar is the best in town. I also love south Melbourne’s Francesoir with all my heart or long-lunching in the sun under the arches at Cam’s Convent in Abbotsford.

What are your birthday plans?

Something small, cosy and isolated. A lockdown if you will. There’ll be my two wonderful housemates, the company of many, many wines, cake ’til I’m sick and karaoke on the balcony. 



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