Elizabeth Kooij

Born and raised in South Africa in the beautiful wine region of Constantia Western Cape, it was while riding her horse among the vineyards, and pruning during school holidays for extra pocket money (and mostly to buy her horse a new blanket or two) that Liz’s love of being out in the vineyard started. From there, her interest in winemaking only began to further grow and when she was about to graduate from high school, Liz was given an ultimatum. Her father (an animal vet) gave Liz the option to choose either a degree in Veterinary Science or Winemaking, and Liz chose to pursue the latter. 

Finishing her oenology degree in 1996, Liz started her career in the region of Stellenbosch, South Africa.  After working in the Cape and completing some international vintages in France and New Zeeland, she left South Africa to head over to Australia for what was supposed to be a two year adventure only.  Fast forward almost 17 years, Liz is still here and now a citizen of Australia.  Liz’s winemaking experience has taken her to different wine regions all around the country, starting in the Hunter Valley, followed by Morning Peninsula and Margret River, back to the Hunter, and one more stop in Clare Valley before  finally stopping in Glenrowan and becoming a winemaker at Baileys of Glenrowan in 2016. As a result of all this moving, Liz is not shy on packing tips!

Liz is just as passionate about animals as she is about winemaking, and today she resides on site in the original Baileys homestead along with her many pets. These include her Bordoodle (Border Collie / Poodle) Archibald (Archie), Eddie Vedder her cat, 3 chooks and her recent additions, Elsie and Maeve - two gorgeous Jerry’s calves.

Her passion for not only winemaking but Baileys of Glenrowan is evident in Liz’s very nature and she considers herself very lucky to be able to have found her Australian family in the Baileys of Glenrowan team.  Liz tries to visit her family in South Africa as often as possible and as much as her Dad dislikes long haul flights, her Mum still gets him on the plane to come and visit Liz in Australia, especially now that he’s kept busy with all of Liz’s animals.


Q. Who is the greatest influence in your winemaking life?

A very dear friend of mine, Marc Kent, he is a South-African winemaker (Boekenhoustkloof) with spunk, humour and a knack to make great wines.

Q. What is your approach to winemaking?

Ask any winemaker ….It all starts in the vineyard!!

Q. Baileys has many loyal drinkers, how would you describe them?

They have very good taste!

Q. What winemaking philosophy do you live by?

Be passionate, trust yourself and love what you do.

Q. What is your favourite part of the winemaking process?

The excitement of tasting the final product and of course I love vintage, in fact, I have a good feeling all winemakers love vintage!

Q. If you could invite one person to share a bottle of your wine with, who would it be?

Nelson Mandela: I wish I could have had the opportunity to have met him and shake his hand, followed by a great glass of wine.

Q. What is your favourite Baileys of Glenrowan wine and why?

It’s too hard to choose one, but I’m very proud of our Fiano - a first for Baileys of Glenrowan.

Q. When you are not making wine, what do you enjoy doing?

Making clay pots on my potter’s wheel (I absolutely love it), and of course gardening and buying indoor plants (I’m a little obsessed).

Q. What’s your favourite wine region in the world — other than your own?

The historic wine region Constantia in the Western Cape, South Africa…that’s where it all started for me, I was born there and my love for wine started there

Q. What would people be surprised to know about you?

I love Pangolins - please help them!! Poaching is sending these shy, elusive animals into extinction.

Q. If you weren’t making wine for a living, what would you be doing?

Followed my Dad’s footsteps and become a vet. I love animals.

Q. What’s the best wine you’ve ever tasted? The most interesting?

The most special wine I’ve enjoyed or tasted was a 1975 (my birth year of course) Chateau Mouton Rothschild. It was a gift for my 21st, I kept it until around 2008 but couldn’t wait any longer.

Q. What do you love most about Baileys of Glenrowan?

The beautiful gardens, historic buildings, the view from the top of the vineyard and of course the main homestead, but most of all the people I work with. They are like family, I call them my Australian family.

Q. Favourite music?

Radiohead will by my favourite for ever!

Q. Favourite book?

Can’t choose between these two…Bird Song – Sabastian Faulks and The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje.

Q. Favourite movie?

I have so many but I just recently watch “The Secret life of Walter Mitty’ again and just loved it