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Next Crop nurtures next crop of leaders

R&I News | March 2024
22 Mar 2024
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Our people are the backbone of our sector. How can we encourage young people working in local wine regions to take on leadership roles, and build confidence to participate in the sector’s decision making? 

The innovative Next Crop program – a partnership between Wine Australia and regional associations – works to provide the answer and is about to move into its fourth iteration. 

The Next Crop program is an annual regionally-based professional and personal development program for emerging leaders who want to understand their leadership capacity and gain exposure to concepts of leadership. 

The aim is to build confidence and provide a development opportunity that will keep the future generation engaged and committed to the region and their career in the grape and wine sector.

Riverina and Tasmania held their first Next Crop programs during 2023, with the local participants graduating last year benefitting enormously with new leadership skills.   

Next Crop Riverina 2023 participants (image: Riverina Winemakers Association)

The Riverina program – delivered by Jill Briggs from Affectus, in association with the Riverina Winemakers Association, Riverina Winegrape Growers and the NSW Government – kicked off with an overnight stay at Whitton Malt House, where the 24-participants and leaders bonded over a BBQ, listened to guest speakers and visited a local winery.

Over the next few months, Next Crop participants undertook a range of workshops, including sessions on contemporary leadership; where the Riverina sits in the Australian wine sector; futureproofing (including businesses and the regional industry); the point and benefits of governance; and a vision for the future.

“One of the key benefits we saw during the program was the unification between the participants, which instilled in them the confidence to open up their networks and start new connections and conversations within the sector,” said Carrah Lymer, Executive Officer of the Riverina Winemakers Association.

“The program gave them the confidence to take charge and share their ideas, and formally present them to their employers, and members of the regional association.”

“This will benefit the region in the future, by empowering the next generation to step up and help, and eventually take the lead on key regional issues.”

Next Crop Tasmania 2023 participants with Paul Smart and Sheralee Davies from Wine Tasmania (image: Wine Tasmania)

The Tasmanian wine sector welcomed 24 graduates of the Next Crop program during 2023.

Co-ordinated by Wine Tasmania in partnership with Tasmanian Leaders, the program was the first of its kind offered to the Tasmanian wine sector.

“Participants represented wine businesses of all shapes and sizes, from Dunalley to Port Sorell and everywhere in between, with individuals from viticultural, winemaking, management, cellar door and marketing roles,” said Paul Smart, Wine Tasmania’s Viticulture and Winemaking Officer.

The program focused on leadership and management skills to benefit individual participants and their businesses, as well as to build capacity in the local wine community. 

Paul said while Tasmanian wine businesses had great access to resources and workshops on technical, business, marketing and tourism topics, leadership training had been identified as a major opportunity and need for the sector. 

“The format delivered by Tasmanian Leaders was very flexible and practical, with participants able to shape the content and topics discussed to make sure it was highly relevant,” he said. 

Next Crop originated in the Barossa, with Nicki Robins at Barossa Australia. It has run in the Barossa, Langhorne Creek, Clare Valley, Greater Victoria, Riverina and Tasmania since 2021. In 2024, the program will be delivered in McLaren Vale and Margaret River. Applications will soon open by the respective regional associations.

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This content is restricted to wine exporters and levy-payers. Some reports are available for purchase to non-levy payers/exporters.