ASVO Viticulturist of the Year

The ASVO strives to promote the advancement of professional knowledge, professional skills and professional attitudes, in the fields of viticulture and oenology, in members of the Society. As an industry, we are fortunate to have many very skilled and professional people who are contributing significantly to the industry, inspiring those around them to seek out and adopt innovative practices. The ASVO Awards for Excellence recognises the achievements of some of the most dedicated and professional individuals in the wine industry.

ASVO Viticulturist of the Year Award

This award honours an outstanding viticulturist who demonstrates a broad positive contribution to the Australian wine industry and / or community, improvement from standard practice in their field through adoption of innovative practices, technologies or standards, and contributes positively to the culture of their organisation and the broader wine industry in either a regional, state or national capacity. The nominees’ activities for which they are being recognised must have occurred within Australia over the previous five years.

This award is sponsored by Wine Australia.

Selection advisory committee

ASVO Award recipients are nominated by ASVO members, with the finalists decided by an ASVO Board appointed advisory committee, comprised of individuals who themselves are distinguished in the fields of viticulture and oenology who demonstrate exceptional leadership ability and vision. The ASVO committee is identified from members of the ASVO and is formed with due regard to the balance of gender, geographical location, and expertise.

Presentation of the Award

Winners of the ASVO Viticulturist and ASVO Winemaker of the year, along with the ASVO Best Viticultural Paper of the Year, Best Oenology Paper of the Year, and the Dr Peter May Award for the most cited AJGWR paper published in the previous five years, are announced at an Awards ceremony and dinner in November each year.

Award winners

2019 Finalists:

Kerry DeGaris – Dr DeGaris is the chair of the Technical sub-committee of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council Inc. and has been instrumental in facilitating and conducting research and extension in the Limestone Coast. The projects led by Kerry have enabled growers to better understand and manage challenges including Eutypa, iron bacteria in irrigation water, salinity and Cabernet berry shrivel. Her work has also included winemaking trials from local rootstock trials. Kerry’s passion for locally targeted research has culminated in the development of numerous fact sheets, webinars and workshops which are being utilised nationally and she has presented her work at national conferences. Kerry has further promoted the dissemination of research by facilitating events which foster interactions between PhD students and local growers.

“This was an innovative formula,” said Kerry “students could develop potential research topics and growers could form relationships with up-coming researchers.”

Brett McClen – McClen is the Chief Viticulturist for Brown Family Wine Group. Brett has incorporated numerous new technologies, new thinking, and innovative approaches to problems and challenges including mechanised cane pruning, recycled spraying to achieve chemical savings and reduce drift, mechanised leaf plucking as a cultural method of reducing bunch rot risk and the use of mechanical shaking as means to reduce bunch trash and bunch compactness to reduce bunch rot pressure. Brett has made significant effort at spreading the message of the importance of adoption of technology and also the importance of adapting to climate and understanding the potential impacts of climate change on vineyards. Brett generously shares his experience by working directly with growers, hosting field days and he has been an invited speaker on these topics at national and international conferences. Brett says,

“I am absolutely passionate and unrelenting in striving for incremental improvement in vineyard outcomes year on year – and in particular, doing so without having to resort to crude cost cutting and over extraction of resources from people and the environment. I place importance on being brave, but not reckless in this approach.”

Catherine Kidman – Dr Kidman is a Viticulturist with Treasury Wine Estates and has been involved in numerous collaborative projects with local Limestone Coast organisations and the University of Adelaide and Charles Sturt University. These have included optimising irrigation, bud fruitfulness, primary bud necrosis and yield estimation, heritage and clonal selection, enhancing local biodiversity and grapevine virus mitigation. Cath has shared the outcomes of her work at regional, national and international conferences and other forums. Cath says,

“a key success is the ability to collaborate and return results that matter to our region. I would like to think that the practices I am working hard to change in our vineyards contribute to the industry being in a better place than where they were yesterday.”

Cath is helping to shape the next generation of viticulturists as an honours and PhD co-supervisor.


2018 Finalists:

Colin Bell – Colin is a Viticulturist and Director of AHA Viticulture in Western Australia. Colin completed the Future Leader program in 2010 and is now Deputy Chair of Wines of Western Australia and a Director of Australian Vignerons. Colin said “It’s easy to imagine innovators as minds working on complex projects like genetic clone identification and dynamics of anthocyanin and flavonol profiles but viticultural practises are also complex; there is no standard that if applied in all situations will achieve the same results. Practises need to be challenged, results need to be reviewed, learnings must be communal, innovation is a way of life.” Colin generously shares his knowledge in every interaction with the wine industry.”Western Australia is remote and I have made an effort to connect our community to the wider wine industry” said Colin “It’s important the shared learning goes both ways across the Nullarbor.”

 

Kerry DeGaris – Kerry is chair of the Technical Sub Committee of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council Inc. and has been instrumental in getting a better understanding of challenges such as eutypa, Iron bacteria & Cabernet Berry Shrivel in the region. Kerry’s passion for locally targeted research has resulted in the Best Practice manual and fact sheets that have been distributed locally to grapegrowers and irrigators and featured nation wide on ABC rural hourwith calls received from interested researchers across Australia. Kerry supports and promotes the dissemination of research inviting PhD students from Adelaide University to present to growers in the region. “This was an innovative formula” said Kerry “students could develop potential research topics and growers could form relationships with up coming researchers”.

 

Nick Dry – Nick is the Nursery Manager and Viticulturist at Yalumba Nursery, Barossa, South Australia. Nick joined the Yalumba Nursery team in 2008 and during this time has honed his skills to ensure that customers have access to the best quality scion and rootstock material for their vineyards as well as the best quality information from which to make decisions. Nick strives to continuously improve practices across both the production and customer service aspects of the business with the knowledge that high quality planting material and high quality information on the performance of clones and rootstocks has a direct benefit to the competitiveness of the Australian Wine industry. Nick is a member of the Vine Industry Nursery Association.

2017 Finalists:

Lee Haselgrove – Lee is the Viticulturist at Swinney Vineyards, Great Southern, Western Australia. Lee is well-connected throughout the Western Australian wine industry and is sought out for his thought leadership in viticulture and innovation. He is respected by the wine writer community and this unique relationship has enabled him to raise the awareness of viticultural practices in relation to wine style and quality. Lee provides innovative engineering solutions amongst his clientele and demonstrates a deep understanding and commitment to viticultural innovation. Lee is the current Chair of Wines of Western
Liz Riley – Liz is the owner and operator of Vitibit Pty Ltd, a viticulture consulting business based in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. Liz has 25 years’ experience working in the Australian wine industry on a local, interstate, and international basis. Liz has significant expertise in both practical and technical viticulture and is passionate about implementing research and development outcomes. She thrives on seeing the practical adoption of science in the vineyard. She believes that this is vital to ensure that the Australian Wine Industry maintains its competitive edge. Liz is an active member of the wine industry and its community. In addition to the numerous industry reference groups
Nick Dry – Nick is the Nursery Manager and Viticulturist at Yalumba Nursery, Barossa, South Australia. Nick joined the Yalumba Nursery team in 2008 and during this time has honed his skills to ensure that customers have access to the best quality scion and rootstock material for their vineyards as well as the best quality information from which to make decisions. Nick strives to continuously improve practices across both the production and customer service aspects of the business with the knowledge that high quality planting material and high quality information on the performance of clones and rootstocks has a direct benefit to the competitiveness of the Australian Wine industry. Nick is a member of the Vine Industry Nursery Association.

2016 Finalists:

Colin Hinze has implemented Precision Viticulture techniques at Taylors Wines, including vigour mapping through digital multi-spectral imagery, yield mapping with machine harvesters, soil change mapping by electromagnetic conductance measurement, and a detailed digital elevation model of our entire property (over 700 hectares of land).Colin believes the key driver for implementation is to improve vineyard productivity (profit) through improved understanding of vineyard variability. By understanding the key limitations and opportunities of your property, you can maximise the potential of existing vineyards, plus optimise the replanting of new vineyard as part of a redevelopment program. Colin has been a continuous member of the ASVO since 1994, joining as an undergraduate student.

 

Tony Hoare began field grafting 10 years ago in response to some requests from local growers and one interstate. Tony adopted a standard technique for grafting fine-tuning it to cover large areas cost effectively.Tony’s vision was to provide first class grafting in the field to utilise infrastructure and give growers a return to full production after only sacrificing one season of yield. Providing an affordable alternative to replanting and to provide pre and post grafting advice and service to maximise the result for growers. Tony recently developed checklists for growers to assess their suitability of their vineyards for grafting and what to expect pre and post grafting
Nick Dry – Nick is the Nursery Manager and Viticulturist at Yalumba Nursery, Barossa, South Australia. Nick joined the Yalumba Nursery team in 2008 and during this time has honed his skills to ensure that customers have access to the best quality scion and rootstock material for their vineyards as well as the best quality information from which to make decisions. Nick strives to continuously improve practices across both the production and customer service aspects of the business with the knowledge that high quality planting material and high quality information on the performance of clones and rootstocks has a direct benefit to the competitiveness of the Australian Wine industry. Nick is a member of the Vine Industry Nursery Association.

 

Andrew Pirie from Apogee Vineyard has set up as a research-based vineyard at Lebrina in northern Tasmania to emulate the Grand Cru Vineyards of northern France. The vinyard is used to investigate the economic potential of a Vineyard comparable in scale,intensity and quality to a Grand Cru Vineyard in northern France. Andrew has invested heavily in viticultural inputs including cane pruning and intensive shoot management to form perfect canopies using a new training system to address the issue of high vigour and low yields endemic in this particular region. The system is a unilateral Scott Henry and uses a gap between vines to promote fruitfulness in cane pruned vines.
Elizabeth Riley is based in the Hunter Valley as an independent viticultural consultant. As a specialist generalist she has been driving the adoption of best practice in the region. This has encompassed setting up regional demonstrations and facilitating workshops to engage the local grower community with concepts and practices that they were unlikely to otherwise explore.

2015 Finalists:

Ben Blows
Jenny Venus
John Owen
Marty Smith
Richard Hamilton

2014 Finalists:

Mathew Bailey
Tony Proffitt
Ben Harris
Cecil Camilleri
Liz Riley

2013 Finalists:

Ashley Ratcliff
Daniel Newson
Mary Retallack
Mathew Bailey
Nathan Scarlett
Tony Proffitt