2018 ASVO Winemaker of the year

Pete Bissell of Balnaves, a family owned winery in the Coonawarra, was awarded the ASVO 2018 Winemaker of the Year.

This is  a deserving accolade for a quiet achiever who has been a champion of the wine industry and of Coonawarra for many years. Pete is a foundation member of the Limestone Coast Wine show and is currently chair of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council, and sits on the Limestone Coast Tech committee, organising research extension and research to practice seminars, including a series of benchmark tastings on key varietals in the region. Pete is the lead author of the Red Winemaking chapter of “Australian Winemaking” and with an eye for the future of the region, Pete has worked closely with many wine industry groups and stakeholders to present various aspects of fracking to the SA Parliamentary enquiry into Unconventional Gas in the South East in 2016.

Since graduating from Roseworthy and gaining first-class honours from the University of Canterbury, Pete has made wines for several companies and has gained international experience including time spent in Bordeaux, the South of France and Moldova. Pete has completed 38 vintages including the last 30 in Coonawarra, has been a wine show judge since 2000 and has judged at numerous wine shows across Australia

“Pete has been a keen innovator both in the winery and the vineyard and is keen to share his knowledge, Pete has also been involved with the development and commercialisation of berry sorting equipment that provides considerable cost advantages. These qualities are what the award is all about.” said Wendy Cameron, Chair of the award selection committee.

Pete is driven to achieve wines with greater complexity and has taken numerous approaches to achieve this throughout his winemaking career. For the past fifteen years Pete has worked with researchers and commercial agents to identify, culture and make available yeast which achieve this goal. Pete has challenged the traditional and celebrated ‘Coonawarra Cabernet’ by pursuing new Cabernet Sauvignon clones and styles of Cabernet wine. He has experimented with long maceration ferments and long skin contact times over many years, the results of which he now incorporates into his winemaking. Pete is currently investigating the relationship between antioxidant properties of wine and ageing potential. His role as Chair of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council, as a foundation member of the Limestone Coast Wineshow, and as an experienced national wineshow judge enables Pete to engage in a myriad of circles to share his experience.

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