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South Australia: leading sustainability down under

17 Oct 2022 Online
17 Oct 2022
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South Australia is the historic heart of Australian wine, home to famous regions, heritage estates, multi-generational winemaking families and old vines. The state is also a leader in sustainable wine production, with wineries focused on water and energy management, reducing their carbon footprint and conserving the environment.

Australia is an innovative wine country, and our winemakers embrace change in order to make great wine that we enjoy drinking and to protect the land for future generations. By constantly improving sustainability in the vineyard and winery, producers create efficiency, support communities, and develop an industry that is resilient and thrives.

Join us for a fascinating conversation on sustainability in South Australia, with wineries that are accredited by Sustainable Winegrowing Australia. Hear from winemakers and viticulturists from McLaren Vale – the most environmentally sustainable grape growing region in Australia – as well as the Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Clare Valley and Riverland.

The session will be moderated by Jane Masters MW, a founding member of the Institute of Masters of Wine’s Sustainability Committee and organiser of the IMW Sustainability webinar series.

In a conversation with Jane Masters MW, winemakers and viticulturists from Gemtree Wines, Hither & Yon, Wakefield Wines, Torbreck, Wynns Coonawarra Estate and Thistledown Wines will talk about sustainable practices across their business. From irrigation practices and canopy management, alternative grape varieties and cover crops, to alternative and innovative packaging, find out what they’re doing and what impact it is having.

Packaging, viticultural and winemaking techniques have adapted over time and they’re continually evolving. As well as exploring current practices, the producers will reveal upcoming projects, experiments and innovations. Never standing still, the wineries are always seeking new and better ways to leave a lighter footprint on the planet and ensure their long-term viability.

This panel discussion is one of many CONNECT Conversations to feature on Australian Wine CONNECT - a dynamic, virtual platform bringing the global wine community together to build connections with hundreds of Australian wineries for powerful commercial outcomes. It is free-to-use for all wine trade wishing to extend their knowledge of, and business reach with Australia.

Register now and start connecting with Australian wine producers directly through the platform:

Featured presenters

Jane Masters

Jane Masters MW is an independent Wine Business Consultant, Master of Wine and Oenologist having originally trained as a winemaker at the Institute of Oenology in Bordeaux. She has extensive experience in the international wine trade and a strong interest in building sustainability into wine business’ strategy.

She has worked in wine production and spent 13 years in retail as part of the wine buying team at Marks & Spencer in UK ultimately running the Wine & Drinks Category before setting up as an independent consultant working with a range of international clients. Jane has been actively involved in the prestigious Institute of Masters of Wine as a member of its governing council and served as Chairman 2016-18. Currently, she is a member of the Institute’s Sustainability committee and organises the IMW Sustainability webinar series.

Melissa Brown

Co-Founder & Viticulturalist, Gemtree Wines
As chief viticulturist and co-owner of Gemtree Wines, Melissa oversees many components of the day-to-day running of the winery as well steering the regenerative agriculture philosophies of Gemtree.

From introducing and leading the biodynamic practices in the vineyard to developing the Gemtree Ecotrail, which involved planting thousands of native trees and shrubs on the property, Melissa is a leader in her field and is sought after for advice and counsel on biodynamics, organics, sustainability and regenerative farming.

Malcolm Leask

Co-Founder, Hither & Yon
Farmers and brothers, Richard and Malcolm Leask of Hither & Yon tend to their diverse vineyard and variety selection in the renowned McLaren Vale wine region.

Sustainably grown and artisan made, meet the cool side of the 'Vale' with bright, flowing, pure style and a diverse varietal selection.

South Australia's first carbon neutral certified winery and certified sustainable by the national Sustainable Winegrowing Australia program - our people are devoted to this cause - this is life on a loop, giving back, growing forward, and having fun. Making better wines with a lighter footprint.

Sue Hodder

Winemaker, Wynns Coonawarra
2022 marks Sue’s 30th vintage at Wynns Coonawarra Estate.

She believes it is a privilege to be custodian of Wynns. Sue started her tenure in 1993 as a winemaker under the guidance of Peter Douglas, before taking over as senior winemaker in 1998.

A graduate of Roseworthy Agricultural College, Sue began her career in wine assessing vineyards at Penfolds. She then travelled the globe, working vintages in California and Bordeaux, before returning to Roseworthy to study wine. After graduating, she returned to Penfolds as a sparkling winemaker. She believes her early viticultural training – assessing vines, analysing mature fruit and tasting the finished wine – gave her an invaluable insight into the importance of the vineyard in quality winemaking.

Sue has received numerous awards and recognitions in her career, most recently being named a Fellow of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) in 2021 for her outstanding and meritorious contribution to Australian wine.

In 2010 she was announced as the Gourmet Traveller WINE Winemaker of the Year alongside Wynns viticulturist, Allen Jenkins. This strong symbiotic partnership from the vineyard to the winery has been the backbone of transforming the quality, and in subtly redefining the style, of Wynns’ flagship Coonawarra reds.

In 2010, Sue was one of 10 Australian winemakers selected to represent Wine Australia in the Launch of the A+ programme at the Shanghai World Expo. Sue has proudly represented Wynns, Coonawarra and the Australian wine industry around the world by telling the stories behind our wines.

In 2016 Sue and Wynns winemaker Sarah Pidgeon were jointly awarded the ASVO Winemaker of the Year. This is a peer award for over two decades of collaborating on “Cabernet Sauvignon for the Future”. In 2017 The Fabulous Ladies of Wine named Sue as the inaugural “Woman of Inspiration” at an Awards ceremony in London.

Sue has judged regional, national, and international shows for 30 years including as Chief Judge in Adelaide for three years and several regional shows. Sue had a long-term involvement with the Coonawarra Vignerons Association including four years as President, and she is currently the Coonawarra representative on the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council.

Sue has worked collaboratively with wine industry bodies such as the CSIRO Food Futures Programme, the Australian Wine Research Institute, and the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference Advisory Committee. She was a guest of the Napa Valley Grape growers in 2012 at the International Cabernet Symposium with a presentation and tasting on Australian Cabernet Terroir.

In July of 2017, Wynns tasted a full 60-year vertical of Black Label Cabernet - a highlight of her winemaking career. She is now focused on preparing for the 70-year tasting in 2027. The Wynns team is committed to embracing climatic change and improving vine and wine quality. Sue’s 30-year experience at Wynns has taught her that a respect for the past is essential to a winemaking philosophy for the future.

She lives and works in Coonawarra and is part of the small tight-knit community.

Giles Cooke MW

Winemaker and Managing Director, Thistledown
Born in England, schooled in Scotland, Giles graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in History but little idea about what career to pursue thereafter. With parents who were interested in wine, and a personal love for all things food and wine, Giles eschewed the allure of becoming an accountant to pursue a career in what he loved more than anything – wine.

30 years later, Giles’ career in wine has pretty much covered every aspect of the business from driving vans, delivering wine to buying, sales, marketing and finally to what he loves doing more than anything, making wine.

As winemaker and managing director of Adelaide Hills based Thistledown, Giles has quickly garnered a reputation for making some of Australia’s finest Grenaches, working with very old vineyards and displaying an intuitive, low intervention approach to winemaking in order to preserve individuality and terroir. Most recently, Thistledown’s Sands of Time 2018 Grenache was awarded best in Australia in the Halliday Grenache Challenge. While Grenache is an obsession, Giles has also created a number of notable Shiraz and Chardonnay based wines from his work in the Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley.

Never one to rest on his laurels, Giles is also now making wine in Rioja, Spain – a country in which Giles has travelled through extensively and one that he has a deep love for.

Over his career, Giles completed the WSET Higher Certificate and Diploma, during which he won the Freixenet Spanish Scholarship and the Hardy Australian Scholarship. In 1998, Giles began the notoriously difficult Master of Wine programme, completing it in 2001 having passed first time.

Giles is married to Pippa, a prominent Family Lawyer (and possessor of unending patience), and has two children, Isabella and Saskia.

Nigel Blieschke

Chief Viticulturalist, Torbreck
Since joining the acclaimed Torbreck Vintners in 2015, Nigel has become an integral part of the company’s mission to be one of the world’s great wine estates.

Nigel looks after 10 vineyards (five owned by Torbreck, three leased and two managed) across the Barossa Valley, producing fruit for some of the region’s best wines. It’s his job to protect history by tending to precious old vines, while helping to drive the evolution of the Australian wine community as an industry leader.

Some of the vineyards that Nigel manages contain precious old vines, including some that are more than 125 years old, so the pressure is on.

“We’re custodians of some of the oldest vines in the world,” he says. “And there were some very old soils here before we even started farming. So, it’s about maintaining these old vineyards and developing vineyards that are going to be here for another 100 years.”

Unwaveringly passionate about producing premium grapes and wines, Nigel has worked for some big names, including Yalumba and Peter Lehmann Wines. He’s been highly active in the wine industry and in 2015 was chosen as one of 15 rising stars – from a record number of applicants – for the national Future Leaders program.

Clinton Taylor

Winery Operations Manager, Wakefield
Clinton Taylor joined the family business in 1995 and was appointed National Account Director, managing the company’s customer relationships with Australia’s leading wine retailers. In June 2007 he was appointed as Project Manager – Sales & Production.

This role involved managing key projects including Risk Management, Winery Development, Environmental Management, New Projects with the Chains and Brand Ambassador. In 2012, Clinton took up the position of Winery Operations Manager, based at the family's estate in the Clare Valley.

Like his elder brothers, Clinton has an inherent interest in the craft of winemaking and strives to uphold the family’s core vision of being Australia’s most successful wine company as well as maintaining its proud family owned heritage.