Marty Gransden is taking the hunt for alternative wine grape varieties to some pretty alternative places.
The itinerary for his upcoming year as a Nuffield Scholar is not yet finalised, but at this stage Greece, Croatia, Slovenia and Georgia are very much on the short list.
The reason, quite simply, is that we know about their climates and that they grow grapes but that’s about it.
‘Speaking to some colleagues who’ve done some travel in those regions, countries such as Georgia and Slovenia might provide the opportunity to find some varieties that would work well in Australia and might, for example, have more disease resistance’, he said.
‘Greece we know a bit more about and look at what Jim Barry’s done with Assyrtiko. It’s a really great example of adopting a variety that grows well in Australia and has had a pretty good impact in the market.’
That very much sums up Marty’s motivation. He makes his living as a viticulturist (for the past 10 years running Cumulus Wines’ 500-hectare vineyard in Orange) but he understands there is no point in growing what people don’t want to buy – no matter how well it grows.
‘I really think there’s a generational change with wine consumers who are looking for something different and alternative varieties provide us with some very exciting options. Look at what they are doing in the Adelaide Hills with Grüner Veltliner.’
Marty’s interest is not just in what might work for him and Cumulus. He wants to add to the growing pool of knowledge in Australia about where in the world to look for varieties that might suit the regional conditions anywhere from Margaret River to Granite Belt.
Some might be completely new to these shores, others might be here on a small scale but not fully explored.
Nuffield Scholar Marty Gransden
Born and bred in Orange, Marty started in the sector under the tutelage of the pioneering Bloodwood Estate then spent time in Mudgee and the Adelaide Hills before returning home.
Wherever he has worked he has been heavily involved with the local and state associations and also spent time on the Board of Australian Vignerons.
Eighteen months ago, he stepped back from that role to think about the next stage of his professional development and Liz Riley (last year’s ASVO Viticulturist of the Year and Nuffield alumni) suggested he have a crack at one of the most prestigious but gruelling options available – the Nuffield Scholarship.
He applied and was delighted to be chosen, and with support from Wine Australia heads to The Netherlands later this month to join scholars from around the world at the Contemporary Scholars Conference that traditionally gets the year started.
A Global Focus Program follows in mid-year – with an itinerary that includes Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Israel and the USA – before Marty focuses on his own study tour to look at alternative varieties. Spain, Portugal and Italy are likely to be included alongside his alternative destinations.
The Nuffield Scholarship brings together people from a broad range of agricultural industries to swap ideas, learn about agricultural policies, practices and politics and, if previous experience is anything to go by, make some pretty amazing contacts.
Matt Pooley from Pooley Wines, who was a Nuffield Scholar in 2013, is Marty’s mentor and his early advice has been about ‘how to manage myself during the scholarship’.
‘He told me not to tie myself down too much to a set itinerary because he found that a lot of doors opened and he took a few corners that were unexpected but resulted in really good learning outcomes.’