Wollongong born Australian Wine Maker of the Year Sarah Crowe returned to home on Friday to celebrate her father Greg Crowe's birthday.
But it was also a chance to share her story at Caveau restaurant and showcase the award winning wine she makes at Yarra Yering in Victoria.
Ms Crowe said after growing up in Figtree she had no inkling she would go on to become the chief winemaker at one of Australia's most highly regarded wineries.
She went to Figtree Heights Public School and Figtree High School and had no connection with viticulture as a child.
But doing her HSC she studied horticulture at Yallah TAFE which set her on a path that eventually led her to a Hunter Valley vineyard.
"I worked at Leisure Coast Garden Centre and Hardware House and was the nursery manager," she said.
Then she went overseas traveling with her sister Karen Crowe.
She saw her first vineyard in France in autumn, was taken by what she described as the beauty of the colours and decided she wanted to work in a vineyard.
When she returned she enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts and started working at a tree farm at Bungendore.
At the time her sister was working at the Oxford bottle shop, reminded her about wanting to work in a vineyard and suggested she call Brokenwood.
Ms Crowe spoke to the vineyard manager, said she was a horticulturist and was told they could use another pair of hands for five weeks during pruning.
"I worked in the vineyard for eight months until the following harvest in January and moved into the winery to get more hours," she said.
"I enrolled in a Bachelor of Applied Science in Viticulture through Charles Sturt University and a couple of years later they made me the assistant wine maker".
In 2009 Ms Crowe was approached to help build a winery for a new business before moving to Bimbadgen as chief wine maker for three years. Then in 2013 Yarra Yering advertised for only its third chief winemaker in four decades and Ms Crowe was successful with her application after 12 years in the Hunter.
"Cool climate viticulture and those fragrant, pretty, medium bodied wines is what interests me," she said.
"I was super excited. There were a lot of eyes on me. Then in 2017 I was named 2017 Australian Wine Maker of the Year for my first vintage. It was for the 2014 wines. It was a shock. I kept waiting for them to phone up and say "sorry we made a mistake"."
But it was no mistake and Yarra Yering and her family, including mum Kaye Tubman, were just as excited.
Ms Crowe said Yarra Yering was started by the late Dr Bailey Carrodus who also had a degree in horticulture and followed a similar path to winemaking.
And she is not the only winemaker from Wollongong.
Ms Crowe said she is enjoying doing more wine dinners in Australia this year which is why she was able to accept the invitation from Simon Evans and Thomas Chiumento at Caveau.
She has been traveling overseas in recent years for trade tastings and other promotional opportunities for Yarra Yering and said it was great to be able to dine at Caveau again.
"My sisters Karen, Cherie and I used to come here for special occasions such as birthdays," she said.
Ms Crowe said there is a lot of energy, passion and thought involved in winemaking and when good results are achieved it was very rewarding. And she loves the challenge of meeting the high expectations of wine enthusiasts.
"I can never imagine doing anything else," she said.
"You can never get bored doing this. It is a real privilege. Yarra Yering turns 50 this year. It is a lovely place to be. And at the end of the day we want to make something that brings people pleasure".
Yarra Yering is most famous for its Dry Red Wine No 1.
Ms Crowe said it was wonderful to see so many exciting things happening in Wollongong.
"I feel like every time I come back there is a new wine bar. A part of the way we live our lives now means it is okay to go out and enjoy a drink and something beautiful to eat. Maybe we are becoming a bit more European which isn't so bad".