What attracted you to your current role
After spending the past 7 years with Yering Station as the viticulturist and nearly 20 years in the industry in total, I have relocated to Bendigo and commenced a private viticultural advisory business, The Dirt Dude. The ability to assist multiple organisations promote excellence and improve productivity, whilst influencing a broader section of the industry was really appealing.
Tell us about an interesting finding in your current or past research.
My Nuffied scholarship, sponsored by Wine Australia was an incredible experience and allowed me to research internationally the management of soil structure. The opportunity to meet with amazing researchers, business owners, practitioners and politicians the world over really changes your perspective on your own business and that of our national industry. When looking at numerous other industries and organisations, I realised that we as custodians are the biggest limiting factors in the management of any aspect of our businesses not just soil. We need to be open to change practice, and share our experiences with our peers so the broader industry can grow with us, as a rising tide will lift all boats.
What inspires you?
People having a crack at something different and challenging the system. Climate change and shifting market demands mean that traditional approaches are not always the best approach for you and your operation. If thought through using sound scientific methods, not an anarchistic perspective, sustainable improvements can be made.
What or whom do you look up to the most and why?
Firstly, I really admire hardworking farming family’s. Having grown up on a dairy farm, I understand the sacrifice, the passion and the commitment required to be successful, particularly in times of hardship when environmental or market conditions are unfavourable. I am also constantly finding people with agriculture that I look up to. Our industry is full of amazing modest people, and I believe their stories need to be shared, so I created an online interview series at thedirtdude.com.au. My first interviewee was Professor Ian Porter who many in the industry may know from work he has done on vineyard soil health and smoke taint. However many probably don’t know that he also received an award from the United Nations for 20 years of work towards the reduction of Methyl Bromide in Agriculture – an ozone depleting substance and one of the chief causes of the hole in the ozone layer. This voluntary work and service to not just industry but the global community should be celebrated.
Outside of your work, tell us some interesting facts about yourself
I am kept very busy by my wife and 2 children. I love to cook and actually grew up wanting to be a chef. This is probably why I am so content in the wine industry.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Try different things, as nothing is permanent. Get comfortable being uncomfortable
What advice or recommendation do you have for students interested in a career in wine science?
Be brave. Ask questions and travel.
How long have you been a member of ASVO and why would you recommend ASVO to your colleagues?
I first joined the ASVO in 2014. The value of the ASVO is it gives an opportunity for industry to engage with not only itself, but the research community also. Strong science and the networks to learn from and build upon this knowledge will continue to drive the industry forward.
What has been or will be your Membership contribution?
I am the regional Director for Victoria. I will promote and increase the reach of the ASVO into the Victorian regions to help build a stronger Society for all. This will provide great feedback to the Board in regards to the technical priorities for the State for seminars and further research. Victoria already produces some of the best wines in the country, and I hope to see them only improve.
What other organisations do you contribute to?
I am a member of the Yarra Valley Winegrowers association Tech sub committee, the Victorian Viticultural Biosecurity committee, the Victorian government Wine Ministerial Advisory Committee (wineMAC) and a Board member of Vinehealth Australia.