Balancing the Grind with Louella Mathews, Group Sommelier for the Trippas White Group

Louella Mathews has recently joined Reign and ESQ, as head sommelier. Originally from Orange, Louella is one of Australia’s most renowned sommeliers and her previous experience has seen her working within fine-dining institutes such as Rockpool 1989 and Rockpool Bar and Grill and most recently as Head Sommelier of Bibo Wine Bar.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’m currently Group Sommelier for the Trippas White Group! This role has included writing lists for over 20 venues including Botanic House, ESQ, Reign Champagne Parlour and Infinity. I also work as a consultant, event host, wine judge and wine writer.

My career started in my hometown (or colour city I should say) of Orange, it’s here I gained my passion for wine as well. After working in local restaurants, I decided, if I wanted to commence my career as a Sommelier, I would have to move to the big smoke.

From there I worked for Neil Perry and the Rockpool group, working my way up the ranks. Eventually I had the opportunity to write my own wine list at bibo wine bar in Double Bay. It’s here I really found my identity as a Sommelier and grew my profile to where it is today.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I usually wake up at around 8am, head off onto my morning walk by the harbour and always start my day with a green juice & coffee.

I’ll post my Instagram reel & TikTok for the day for my account @louthesomm

Work usually starts at the office, answering a myriad of emails from chefs, marketing and venue managers and a couple of wine samples will arrive. Lately it’s the lists for wines for New Year’s Eve at the Opera House, Taronga Zoo and the Tower.

I called my friend/winemaker, Nadja Wallington, to ask for a delivery of our wine (The Somm & The Winemaker) for an editorial photo shoot scheduled for the weekend. I then jump onto a zoom meeting with Sommeliers Australia (I am treasurer and part of the National Executive committee).

Reprint ESQ’s menus and a new Champagne flight at Reign, before heading off to venues to discuss changes and check cellars to ensure they’re tidy and stock is in the right spaces.

A quick meeting with suppliers followed by a Penfolds tasting with various beverage teams and sommeliers from venues.

Then, I’m off to Botanic House for a menu tasting (call it lunch) for their December Menus, whilst tasting the samples and coming up with the new matching wines. After this I make my way to Infinity to see if my new Sommelier is settling in okay and ensure everyone is happy.

Finally, I triple check emails before switching off and see if I need to answer anything urgently (in this case it was sending off my best buys article and chenin blanc tasting notes to the editor of the Wine Magazine!)

I finish my day with a walk home, a lovely home cooked dinner and a dry gin martini made by a wonderful human and re-watching the Game of Thrones before heading off to bed!

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Like most, work-life balance came to the forefront after the COVID lockdowns. I narrowed down my values to Self-Worth, Family and Friends (in that order). Every month, I check in and make sure these values are reflected in my life. I tend to be a work-a-holic so it’s important for me to do this.

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4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Water, green juice and my coffee to start (in that order)

Sky before screens (I’ve been trying my best but love a TikTok hole)

Morning walks

Turning off notifications on my iPhone from when I leave work until 8am the next morning

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

My favourite podcasts at the moment are ‘It’s A Lot’ with Abbie Chatfield for social commentary, Inspired Unemployed for the laughs and ‘Over A Glass’ for some really insightful wine chats. 

Books – anything by Jancis Robinson & Winefolly is great for wine beginners. As for newsletters – I am pretty much online now, so instead I would say people making great wine content are @frenchwinetutor @winegini @mrnoelburgess

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Sarah Andrew – the busiest woman in wine but she always remains so professional, poised and still has the time to listen and give great advice.

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

The scales for your balance really depend on the stage of your life that you’re at, so it’s always good to have a look at your priorities and where you want to be in life, to where your scales will tip.

Sometimes, there is a time to hustle and put the extra effort in to get you ahead of the curve, and other times are for relaxing and enjoying life by yourself and with family and friends. There is no wrong answer, but the people who support you and understand you, no matter what stage you’re in, they’re the ones you should keep around forever.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.