Environmental innovation honoured in ASVO awards

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L-R Jason Smith, Sue Bell, Richard Gawel, Matthew Bailey.

An advocate for new wine styles and the man behind the innovative “insectarium” have taken out top honours in this year’s Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) awards.

Sue Bell, from Coonawarra’s boutique Bellwether Wine, was named Winemaker of the Year and Matthew Bailey, from Taltarni in Victoria’s Pyrenees region, Viticulturist of the Year at a ceremony in Adelaide last night.

Sue was acknowledged for her enthusiasm, community involvement, leadership and passionate advocacy of women in wine, as well as her commitment to trialling new grape varieties that are suited to dry regions, such as Nero d’Avola and Vermentino.

These have been well received, winning awards and establishing a model for new thinking as the industry prepares for the impact of climate change.

The judges noted that her role in the industry “has been quite inspirational, showing how much can be achieved with passion and commitment.”

Matthew is recognised as being at the forefront of integrated pest management in the wine industry thanks largely to the success of his “insectarium”, a vegetation corridor of 2000 native plants that provides a pollen and nectar source for a range of beneficial insects.

This natural approach to pest and disease control has allowed Taltarni to reduce its chemical use – and chemical costs – by 75% in a decade.

The judges noted that the concept could be adapted in varying degrees “by viticultural enterprises big and small”.

ASVO President, Paul Petrie, said it was significant that both winners had found ways to help build strong businesses – as well as make great wine – by caring for the environment.

“Environmental sustainability and good environmental management are prerequisites for the wine industry today, and Sue and Matthew are providing real leadership,” he said.

“The work that both have been doing can be picked up by others in the industry.”

This year’s research awards were presented to Richard Gawel from the Australian Wine Research Institute for the Best Oenology Paper and Jason Smith from the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre at Charles Sturt University for the Best Viticultural Paper.

The research papers were selected from the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research as being the most likely to have an impact on the Australian wine industry.

The Winemaker of the Year award is sponsored by Amorim and the Viticulturist of the Year by Bayer CropScience. Both research awards are sponsored by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority.

The ASVO was established in 1980 to encourage the exchange of technical information in the wine industry. It runs seminars, co-hosts the triennial Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference with the AWRI, and publishes the world’s highest ranked, peer-reviewed viticulture and wine scientific journal, the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research.

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