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 Winemaker of the Year Award

This award honours an outstanding winemaker 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

2019Corrina Wright
2018Pete Bissell
2017Mike Hayes
2016Sue Hodder & Sarah Pidgeon
2015Ed Carr
2014Sue Bell
2013Louisa Rose
2012Wendy Cameron

2019 Finalists:

Peter Leske is the Senior Winemaker and co-proprietor of Revenir Winemaking in the Adelaide Hills where he makes wines from an extraordinarily wide range of grape varieties (Arneis to Viognier and everything in between; the list runs to 55), from several different regions, using many diverse techniques. He has co-designed and implemented a ‘waste’ heat capturing system which passively heats insulated barrel storage and he expects to share this knowledge with other wineries. Peter engages with and contributes to the broader wine industry in numerous ways including by presenting guest lectures to undergraduate students, as a member of several sensory evaluation panels supporting research projects and education, as a former wine show committee chair and, more recently, through collaboration with the AWRI and local winemakers to assist the adoption of standard protocols for making and assessing trial wines for smoke taint. Peter said,
“I have always appreciated and enjoyed the collaborative nature of our industry, the opportunities it gives to share and learn from others, and to give back when the chance arises.”
Wright has dedicated herself to the development of innovative varieties and innovative wine styles. She led the planting of the first Mencia in Australia, on the back of being an early adopter of alternative varieties, with a particular focus on planting those that are heat and drought tolerant, with high natural acidity and with a different flavour profile to traditional varieties. With a clear commitment to the future of the industry, Corrina has further extended her involvement in the wine industry by being a key instigator in the Winemakers Federation of Australia (now Australian Grape and Wine) undertaking a gender and cultural diversity study for the industry and combined with her Board membership of the Australian Women in Wine Awards (AWIWA), is an important part of the leadership on cultural change for the whole wine community. Corrina said,
“It is very humbling to be nominated by my peers and to be in such luminary company as my co-nominees and the previous recipients of this prestigious award.”
 
Con Simos, Simos is the Group Manager for the Industry Development and Support team at the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). Con conceived and delivered the wine show software ‘ShowRunner’ – a unique and broadly adopted cloud-based program which organises complex wine tastings and makes wine show administration more efficient, allowing more time for judges’ discussion and assessment. Another of Con’s innovative approaches has been to enable winemakers to experiment with different winemaking techniques with confidence. His approach to this has been to make a series of wines from the same batch of grapes, changing one variable at a time and providing workshop participants with a sensory experience to demonstrate the variables. Con said,
“The ASVO plays an important role in advancing technical knowledge to the grape and wine sector which has been integral in my development throughout my career. I feel very privileged to be considered for this award”.

2018 Finalists:

Bryan Currie has a clear vision to make wines that speak clearly of the place they are grown and their variety, and to express their unique distinct personality and authentic story. Throughout his career Bryan has strongly promoted the adoption of grape varieties that are suited to their regional climate and that require less winemaking intervention and therefore express more clearly express their region and personality. He led the first planting of southern Italian varieties in the Riverina, NSW, such as Nero d’Avola, Aglianico and Montepulciano, wines which have now enjoyed critical acclaim both nationally and internationally.
Pete Bissell has been a champion of the wine industry and of Coonawarra for many years. He has been a keen innovator both in the winery and the vineyard. Examples include early trial and adoption of new closure types, alternative yeasts and considerable investigation of long maceration ferments and tannin extraction. More recently trial work has focussed on measuring total anti-oxidants in red wines as a potential way of measuring longevity in wine.  
Corrina has dedicated herself to the development of innovative varieties and innovative wine styles. She led the planting of the first Mencia in Australia, on the back of being an early adopter of Fiano (including a sparkling version of this variety), Vermentino and Sagrantino, with a particular focus on planting varieties that are heat and drought tolerant, with high natural acidity and with a different flavour profile to their more traditional Shiraz and Grenache plantings.Corrina has been involved in many aspects of the broader wine industry having been a Board member of the ASVO, South Australian Wine Industry Council and McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association. Corrina has recently been appointed a McLaren Vale Ambassador, a role which provides leadership and information dissemination for the region.With a clear commitment to the future of the industry, Corrina has further extended her involvement in the wine industry by being a key instigator in the Winemakers Federation of Australia (WFA) undertaking a gender and cultural diversity study for the industry and combined with her Board membership of the Australian Women in Wine Awards (AWIWA), is an important part of the leadership on cultural change for the whole wine community.

2017 Finalists:

Mike Hayes Symphony Hill Wine Mike is steadfast in his belief that the future success of Queensland’s wine industry will be based on the development of alternate varietals, in particular, varieties suited to changing climatic conditions. To this end Mike has promoted the planting of alternate varieties and associated innovative winemaking practices for over a decade both at Symphony Hill Wines and with his many clients. Mike has a mission to expand his own knowledge and to share that with the industry. Mike has initiated alternative variety master classes to educate consumers on food and wine matching with alternative varieties, presented at numerous industry forums and led practical viticulture workshops instructing growers how to graft to new varieties. Mike is also establishing small plot alternative variety vineyards in schools throughout southern Queensland and he is also writing a book on alternative Winegrape varieties.Mike is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern Queensland where he is on the Advisory Board for Agriculture, Computational Sciences and Environmental Studies. He is also a director of the Queensland Wine Industry Association.The winners of the ASVO Viticulturist and Winemaker of the year will be announced at an Awards ceremony and dinner on November 14th at Carrick Hill in Adelaide.
Jeremy Dineen Chief Winemaker, Josef Chromy Wines, TasmaniaJeremy constantly seeks to improve his practices by keeping abreast of industry best practice including heat recovery and load scheduling for refrigeration, juice flotation to reduce lees losses and increase throughput, solar power generation and composting of all green waste. These innovative practices have led to reduced cellar operation, decreased losses and significant gains regarding capacity for wastewater treatment and solar energy generation. Jeremy has instigated and participated in numerous research projects in collaboration with Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, Wine Tasmania, University of Tasmania, the Australian Wine Research Institute and others with an aim to benefit the entire industry. Jeremy has been a key player in staging ‘Effervescence Tasmania’ an event to celebrate world class sparkling wines from Tasmania including sparkling wine master classes.Jeremy was a participant in the wine industry’s Future Leaders’ program, he is an accomplished wine show judge and graduate of the Len Evan’s Tutorial. He is a director of Wine Tasmania and past Chair of its Technical Committee.
Fiona DonaldSenior Winemaker, Seppeltsfield Wines Fiona is part of the team that applies modern technology to a wonderful old building with great bones and thoughtful design - the recently resurrected gravity winery. With a vision to get this great asset to work, Fiona and her team have increased the processing capacity of the Seppeltsfield winery from zero to 4000 tonnes in two years. This has been no mean feat; the greatest challenge being asking people to work to modern standards in an old winery and to achieve a lot from a little. In a few short years the value of the winery has increased and the wine is highly sought after. Fiona takes an inclusive approach in the winery, constantly seeking information from colleagues to achieve great results, and she shares her experience willingly with students, school leavers, vintage sea-changers and through industry forums including the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference and numerous wine shows. Fiona is a committee member of the Adelaide Wine Show, a member of the tasting panel of the Barossa Grounds project and a Barossa Grape and Wine Association board member
Julian Allport Winemaker, Moore’s Hill, TasmaniaJulian recently brought to fruition the design and build Tasmania’s first 100 tonne, 100% off-grid commercial winery. The winery runs entirely on solar power using a 30kW array and 100kWh of battery storage. Water collected from the roof is used in the winery and a closed loop system treats waste water. By independently generating power, Julian has overcome the threat of rising electricity prices and uncertain supply. “Our sustainable approach has been applauded by customers and encouraged other Tasmanian wineries to investigate off grid solar power options.” Julian’s winemaking philosophy is to marry traditional and modern techniques taking a quality approach to every operation.Julian is an active Tasmanian wine industry participant, serving on the Wine Tasmania Board 2013-2015 and on its technical committee in 2015. He is a great believer in sharing information and insights and offers to share his knowledge with those who seek it

2016 Finalists:

Sue Hodder & Sarah Pidgeon Sue Hodder (commenced in 1993) and Sarah Pidgeon (1999) have been immersed at Wynns Coonawarra Estate for 17 years in a successful collaboration that has included
  • “Evolution” of Coonawarra viticulture (in an time of climate change)
  • Intense scrutiny and, ultimately, quality improvement of the Wynns wines at all prices.
  • Making Single vineyard wines which acknowledge terroir within the region
  • Embracing new technologies, scientific findings, and historical anecdotes and leading international opinions to inform current winemaking at Wynns.
  • Living and working in the small Coonawarra wine community and actively participating in the Australian and indeed world, wine community
Jeremy Dineen Whilst we constantly seek to improve our practices, none of the technologies we have adopted over the past few years are revolutionary. We try to keep abreast of industry best practice such as heat recovery and load scheduling for refrigeration, juice flotation to reduce lees losses and increase throughput, solar power generation and composting of all our green waste. All of our waste water is treated and integrated into irrigation or compost. We probably have the lowest carbon footprint per bottle of any winery that packages in Tasmania and until OI discontinued production we were, to my knowledge, the only winery in the state to package exclusively into lightweight glass. We take part in many research projects in collaboration with Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, Wine Tasmania, University of Tasmania, AWRI and others that hopefully benefit the entire region and industry. Recent examples include sparkling wine viticulture and yield research with TIA, oxygen management with AWRI, and novel maceration techniques with TIA and AGWA.
Fiona DonaldFiona joined Seppeltsfield in October 2009 as Senior Winemaker. Business Owner and Managing Director Warren Randall had a vision to resurrect the mothballed Gravity Winery at Seppeltsfield with the objective of getting the asset to work for the business! I am part of the team that has applied modern attributes, such as modern crusher, stainless steel lining of open fermenters and brine chillers, to a wonderful old building with great bones and thoughtful design I oversee the vintages in this winery. With 120 x 8T open fermenters, it is an amazing premium small batch winemaking facility. I ensure that there are systems and clear communication in place to achieve high grade wines (as graded by our customers) in an organised, hygienic and safe environment We processed 1600 T through the winery in 2010; since 2011 we process 4000 T per vintage through the Gravity Winery…. so from zero to 4000 in 2 years!! The value of the asset has increased and the value of the wines produced is verified by the grading of the wines by our customers The greatest challenge with regards to culture is asking people to work to modern standards in an old winery and to achieve a lot from a little! I have a very collaborative approach, sourcing opinions and ideas from all the staff
Virginia Willcock After a few years in developing a more funky desirable style of Chardonnay I realised we had to try some new techniques in making more sexy and desirable Cabernet Sauvignon. I was looking to develop our Cabernet to have more complex savoury characteristics and a more relaxed texture while maintaining the varietal uniqueness in the aroma and shape of Cabernet. Our existing philosophy of less is more and natural fermentation in Chardonnay allowing individual vineyard sections to express themselves in a more unique way was inspirational. The only reason we hadn't tried out reds was that we had fears of high alcohol not allowing the ferment to finish. We had become firm believers in the micro flora of the vineyard contributing to the uniqueness of individual sections of vineyard and then hoping for it to translate to the uniqueness of the wine. In 2012 we had gained enough confidence to ferment all of our premium parcels of red fruit to wild fermentation. With all skins included in the fermentation it appeared the natural ferments in reds finished easily and we have had no issues.
  

2015 Finalists:

Ed Carr
Sarah Pidgeon has been part of the team shaping Wynns Coonawarra Estate’s future for 17 years. The many innovations in Wynns wines and vineyards over this time have been well documented, but two more recent projects are just beginning to shine a light on the possibilities for Coonawarra as a region, and for winemaking practices across the nation.
Bruce Dukes is an Australian agronomist and winemaker who has been working in our wine industry for twenty five years. Interests in plant nutrition and microbiology in the early 1990’s led him to involvement with research on optimizing the efficiency of nitrogen fertilization of grape vines and how this impacted on the nitrogenous content of grape juice and subsequent wine quality.
Adam Carnaby
  

2014 Finalists:

Sue Bell
Julian Alcorso
Richard Gawel
  
  
  

2013 Finalists:

Louisa Rose
Andrew Wigan Andrew Wigan has been at the helm of a team of winemakers at Peter Lehmann Wines in the Barossa Valley since its establishment in 1979, and has developed novel white wine styles from the region. His innovative efforts in changing of the accepted ‘norms’ of practice in the region, particularly with Semillon, led to the development of wines with enormous character and ageing potential, specifically the ‘Margaret Semillon’ and ‘Wigan Riesling’. These wines were pivotal to Peter Lehmann Wines being awarded Winemaker of the Year in 2003 and 2006 (International Wine and Spirit Competition), and more significantly, International White Winemaker of the Year in 2006 (International Wine Challenge). The innovation led to a change in the style of white wine produced in the region, which was achieved through changes in focus and attention on several critical aspects that included: (a) building a partnership between winery and grower (b) targeted matching of the viticultural and winemaking practices to the desired characteristics of the final wine.