Meet Australia’s future wine leaders


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16 talented and driven professionals from the Australian grape and wine community have been chosen to be the Future Leaders 2017.

Future Leaders is coordinated by Wine Australia in partnership with the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) and Australian Vignerons (formerly Wine Grape Growers Australia). The Future Leaders program is designed to develop participants’ leadership capabilities and encourage innovation and thoughtful debate on the future of the sector.

The Future Leaders of 2017 are:

  • Alexia Roberts
Galvanized Wine Group (Penny’s Hill)
  • Anthony Robinson
Treasury Wine Estates
  • Chris Dent
Gorton Drive Estates
  • Chris Morrison
Sommelier/Wine Consultant
  • Claire Doughty
  • Gwyneth Olsen
Pepper Tree Wines
  • Marc Soccio
Wine Advisor
  • Mary Hamilton
Hugh Hamilton Wines
  • Natalie Pizzini
Pizzini Wines
  • Paula Edwards
Winegrapes Australia
  • Richard Angove
Angove Family Winemakers
  • Richard Leask
Leask Agri
  • Sarah Collingwood
Four Winds Vineyard
  • Shirley Fraser De Zolt
Byrne Vineyards
  • Simon Killeen
Simão & Co. Wines
  • Wes Pearson
Australian Wine Research Institute

Richard Leask said on learning of his selection, “I’m excited and apprehensive; the alumni list is impressive and a little daunting! I suppose it feels like just before vintage, you have some idea what you’re in for and that it will challenge you at times but you can’t wait to get into it.

“I’m hoping to discover personal leadership strengths and weaknesses and the tools to improve on both. To open up a new network of people that will keep challenging each other and the wine industry to be the best it can be.”

Sarah Collingwood agreed saying, “I’m looking forward to the Future Leaders program challenging me both professionally and personally. It’s a great opportunity for me to look up from running my business to establish new connections in the industry and explore the future of business, marketing and governance.”

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said the calibre of applicants again reflected the impressive talent working in the Australian grape and wine sector. He hopes that the opportunity will bring together the emerging leaders and help establish long-term prosperity in the grape and wine sector.

“We want the best and brightest leading the Australian grape and wine community and it’s vital we support them by investing in their professional development so they can confidently lead the sector in the years to come,” said Clark.

Andrew Weeks and Tony Battaglene, the Chief Executive Officers from AV and WFA, said they were proud to once again support the Future Leaders program.

“The expression of interest from such a large and highly competent field of applicants suggest that the future of the grape and wine sector is in good hands,” said Battaglene.

Future Leaders 17 program

In a dynamic and evolving sector, this year’s program will explore new avenues in business, marketing and governance, and will also look at how global economics will shape the future.

Participants will look at new technology, how they can amplify the innovative thinking that already exists in our sector, and learn contemporary approaches to human development and commercial success.


Who has the bargaining power?

WHILE THE grape and wine supply chain waits for positive export figures to translate into a real business boost, initial reports of suggest the grape price per tonne is hovering between $370 and $400 throughout the inland regions (Murray Darling, Riverina and Riverland). This represents a slight jump up from last year’s average of about $320 a tonne; offering hope of a recovery to good returns for both grapegrowers and wineries. Daniel Whyntie reports.

Senator Nick Xenophon said the Wine Industry Code of Conduct has “less bite than a toothless Chihuahua”.

Grapegrowers spend the vast majority of their annual expenses before vintage – in fact before the December 15 date which the Australian Wine Industry Code of Conduct sets out for price notifications. And some growers remain frustrated by a either a lack of information or the restrictive nature of their contract which has last years’ low price rolling across to 2017. There were even rumours of a ‘tractor blockade’ and grower boycotts before this year’s vintage began.

Last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) declared that contracting practices were the most significant issue affecting viticulture in a report into the sector.
“The risk sharing weighs strongly against the growers; they find it difficult to know what price they will receive and some are only paid after delivery. It’s not the equitable sharing of risk we’d like to see in good contracting practices,” said Mick Keogh, ACCC commissioner. Continue reading

Young gun: Michael Downer

Michael Downer is the third generation of his family to work the Murdoch Hill farm, in the Adelaide Hills, but during his time within the business he has changed the focus for the family. Daniel Whyntie reports.

The family property used to be as much about cattle as it was focussed on growing vines, but Michael Downer’s Artisan Series has built on the reputation of the Murdoch Hill wines and marked a turning point in the farming business.
Downer has applied the lessons learnt from his travels and set out to create wines that would set him apart; wines that have earned him the Young Gun Of Wine ‘winemakers’ choice’ award two years running.  Continue reading

Australian wine exports: Key market snapshots

Wine Australia’s four ‘heads of market’s’ recently joined forces to present a market overview for a Wine Communicators of Australia webinar late in 2016. They examined the issues, risks and opportunities for Australia’s major export markets. Daniel Whyntie sat in to bring you the highlights of their presentations.

UK: Stop the world I want to get off

Laura Jewell MW Head of Market Europe, Middle East and Africa

Looking back across recent history, the UK market has been pretty stable – recent declines had slowed and there was growth in the retail sector and in sparkling. However, the impacts of ‘Brexit’ have meant the outlook seems to change on a daily basis. The vote to leave was unexpected and it has become very clear the UK Government had not actually planned for this outcome. Continue reading

Fortified’s fresh look

ST LEONARDS VINEYARD, an historic winery in the Rutherglen wine region, has added some colour and intrigue to its range of compelling fortified wines with the release of three HIP SIP wines.

The first wine to launch was the Tawny in April 2016 and two more wines have recently been added to the range – HIP SIP Muscat and HIP SIP Muscadelle.

Georgie James Photography

“HIP SIP was designed to inspire consumers in a creative way on the delights of fortified wine,” said Angela Brown, St Leonards Vineyard sales and marketing director.
“Providing suggestions of how and when to enjoy fortified wine has engaged our consumers.
“The range provides the ability to enjoy the wine in a creative way.” Continue reading

International bulk wine insight

The Grapegrower & Winemaker recently caught up with Denys Hornabrook, the co-founder of VINEX, the bulk wine trading exchange to discuss its development and gain an update on the current market outlook.

Q: You have recently been quoted as saying global prices are expected to rise over the next 12 months, with the precarious 2016 vintage threatening global supplies. What are the factors contributing to your view?
Denys Hornabrook: We are entering a really interesting phase where the pendulum is moving toward demand and applying price pressure. There’s now an increasing likelihood there’ll be a further tightening of global supply. Look at the constraints on what was produced in 2016. South Africa has had its worst vintage in four years, Chile its worst in five and Argentina its worst in 10. But that’s now being compounded by the US having average yields and large yield deficits throughout France and Italy, and especially Spain. Our VINEX Global Price Index which monitors the five major varieties produced around the world shows prices have already increased 21.5% since January. Sauvignon Blanc (heavily weighted by NZ) is the only variety that hasn’t increased in price.

Q: What signs are you seeing of the market responding to this potential reduced supply?
We’ve seen domestic and international buyer registrations increase to access the exchange and then sourcing listings being added to secure additional current vintage supply. Also, several pre-harvest forward contracts have been traded with buyers wanting to hedge some of their 2017 requirement. So there’s a growing sense of a shortage, and buyers’ in-tune with the market are beginning to take early longer-term positions. Continue reading

Yalumba launches $350 ‘super claret’

Australia’s oldest family owned winery, Yalumba, is set to launch a $350 Cabernet Shiraz blend. The Caley, a blend featuring both Coonawarra and Barossa fruit, honours Fred Caley Smith, the grandson of Yalumba’s founder Samuel Smith; and horticulturist who had a profound impact on the development of Yalumba’s orchards and vineyards.


“The Caley is the pinnacle of a long winemaking journey seeking excellence – a ‘super-claret’ that rightfully honours one of Yalumba’s most adventurous sons,” vigneron Robert Hill-Smith said.
“It is the result of an unwavering commitment by Yalumba to Australia’s own unique red wine style – Cabernet and Shiraz – from the Galway Clarets of the 1940s, through the Signature and FDR 1A that started in the 60s and 70s and The Reserve that was created in the 1990s.
“I see it as a symbol of Yalumba’s perseverance and patience – an acknowledgment of the importance of time in crafting great wine.” Continue reading

Sam Berketa: Art vs Science

A winemaker needs to be an entrepreneur, an innovator, a sales rep and a designer. Sam Berketa was born for the role, he has recently taken over the reins at Alpha Box & Dice in McLaren Vale. Balancing the logical and the creative Sam is keen to bring the techniques and collaborative ethos back home to the Vale. Daniel Whyntie reports.

TRANSFERRING OUT of a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Drug Design, Berketa felt his creative drives pulling him toward a career in the Visual Arts, lucky for wine lovers he found another way to express himself.
“I wasn’t really enjoying the career path that was leading me down, so I actually considered chasing a degree in a completely opposite direction,” Berketa said. “However, I ended up splitting the difference and choose winemaking, as I saw it as being a marriage of art and science my two academic passions. Since walking into class on that first day of winemaking, I haven’t looked back.”
sam-berketaIt is the contrasts between these two ways of seeing the world; the analytic and logical left and the creative right hemisphere of the brain; that makes Berketa a unique winemaker despite his relative lack of experience.
“I love art and all things creative and I include wine in the category of art, most of the time. So, I like to think I have some sort of artistic talent. Brewing has being my creative outlet as well for the last couple of years.” Continue reading

On an elevated stage: The Granite Belt

Nathan Gogoll spent a couple days in the Granite Belt late last year. He found a vibrant wine industry, lots of interesting projects and plenty of characters. The rest of the Australian grape and wine community should take note.

THERE ARE SOME MISCONCEPTIONS about the Granite Belt that need to be addressed. They don’t grow pineapples and bananas at the end of the vine rows. Far from it. In fact, the region is well known for its apple, vegetable and stone fruit crops.
p31-35-granite-belt-just-redIt’s probably a hot and humid region. Actually, the Granite Belt is the coldest region in Queensland, and the locals refer to winter as ‘brass monkey’ season*. It doesn’t get to wear an official ‘cool climate’ tag as the MJT is 21.5°C (Mean January Temperature) which is on par with the Barossa and the heat degree days number is about the same as McLaren Vale. However, there are some vineyards planted at more than 1000m elevation. Continue reading

Stand out like a purple cow

Ashley Ratcliff, Ricca Terra Farms general manager, explores the value of branding for grapegrowers and vineyard businesses.

IN THE BOOK The Purple Cow, author Seth Godin refers to his first visit to Europe with his family. He wrote of how beautiful the herds of brown cows were grazing in the countryside as he drove along the highway. Yet, after only a short time, passing herd-after-herd of brown cows, he made a personal observation – the cows were becoming very boring and had very quickly lost their unique attraction. Godin states, “wouldn’t it be great to see a purple cow”. Now that would be exciting.


“The end game is not about beating a competitor, or winning a sale. The end game is to earn profit through establishing brand loyalty.”
The ‘brown cow’ paradox is present in most industries. One of the attractions of wine to the end consumer is the romance and uniqueness of where the grapes are grown that make the wine, the vineyard.
Successful wine company marketers have been able to etch an image in the consumers’ mind of grapes being hand harvested by the farmer’s weathered hands and then delivering his/her grapes to the winery in an old Bedford truck where the grapes are forked off and pressed in an old wooden basket press. Continue reading