The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology has announced the winners of its 2018 Awards for Excellence

The winners are nominated by ASVO-appointed selection committees and this year’s award categories included Viticulturist, Winemaker, Viticulture Paper and Oenology Paper of the Year. This year also saw the presentation of the inaugural Dr Peter May Award, which is awarded to the author(s) of the most cited original research paper published in the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research over the previous five years.

Pete Bissell of Balnaves, a family owned winery in the Coonawarra, was awarded the ASVO Winemaker of the Year.

Bissell is a foundation member of the Limestone Coast Wine show, Chair of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council, and a member of the Limestone Coast Technical Committee, which coordinates the delivery of research and extension activities in the region.

Since graduating from Roseworthy and gaining first-class honours from the University of Canterbury, Bissell has made wines for several companies and has gained international experience including time spent in Bordeaux, the South of France and Moldova.

He has completed 38 vintages including the last 30 in Coonawarra, has been a wine show judge since 2000 and has judged at numerous wine shows across Australia.

“Pete has been a keen innovator both in the winery and the vineyard and is eager to share his knowledge. He has also been involved with the development and commercialisation of berry sorting equipment that provides considerable cost advantages. These qualities encapsulate the ASVO Winemaker of the Year Award,” said Wendy Cameron, Chair of the award selection committee.

The ASVO Viticulturist of the Year award was awarded to Colin Bell, Viticulturist and Director of AHA Viticulture, a viticultural consultancy based in Western Australia.

Bell’s working life consists of managing vineyards and consulting to wineries and growers. Free time sees him serving as a Board Member for Wines of West Australia and as an Independent Board Member of Australian Vignerons, the peak body for Australian winegrape growers.

Liz Riley, Chair of the award selection committee said “It was pleasing to see a diverse field of viticulturists nominated from across the country and from a range of enterprise types. It took considerable effort for the panel to select a short list and then refine that down to the finalists. All the finalists should be very proud to have reached this stage of the process. The challenge in making the selections was very heartening, as it reflects the depth of talent in the viticultural sector of the Australian Wine Industry as well as the next generation who are following behind.”

The full list of award categories and winners are as follows:

  • ASVO Viticulturist of the year – Colin Bell, AHA Viticulture
  • ASVO Winemaker of the Year – Pete Bissell, Balnaves
  • ASVO Viticulture Paper of the Year – Catherine Clarke, Agriculture Victoria
  • ASVO Oenology Paper of the Year – Paul Boss, CSIRO Agriculture and Food
  • ASVO Dr Peter May Award – Dr Rob Bramley, CSIRO Agriculture and Food

Dr Bramley’s paper “Within‐vineyard variation in the ‘pepper’ compound rotundone is spatially structured and related to variation in the land underlying the vineyard” reports the results of investigation initiated by the late Nathan Scarlett who was the National Technical Viticulturist with the Rathbone Wine Group (and ASVO Viticulturist of the Year finalist in 2014).

In a statement Dr Bramley said: “The work is significant in being the first ever demonstration of spatial variation at the within-vineyard scale of a grape-derived wine flavour and aroma compound. However, possibly its greatest significance is that, for the most part, it was undertaken without any sort of structured funding support and purely on the basis of the goodwill of those involved in the work, who saw the merits of pursuing a good idea when they saw one.

“Hopefully, there is a lesson in that for all ASVO members and others involved in Australian viticultural and oenological research.”

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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