By Andy Young

Fifteen "rising stars" of the Australian grape and wine community have been chosen to take part in the 2015 Future Leaders program.

The program is designed to develop leadership capabilities, encourage innovation and spark thoughtful debate on the future of the wine sector. It is coordinated by Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) in partnership with Wine and Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) and Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA).

A record number of applications were received for the 2015 intake and AGWA chief executive officer, Andreas Clark, said the quality of the applications reflects the immense talent currently working in Australia's wine community.

"There are so many passionate and talented people working in the grape and wine sector, right along the value chain," Clark said.

"Collaborating with WGGA and WFA, this leadership program fosters our up-and-coming talent, those individuals who will lead Australian wine in the future."

WFA chief executive Paul Evans added that the program will help the industry's new generation of leaders develop the skills to keep it moving forward.

Evans said: "Future Leaders is about ensuring the next generation has the support and skills necessary to lead the way. There is a critical need for their innovation and fresh thinking in decision making."

Over the past 10 years, the program has produced 75 alumni from the grape and wine community and this year sees another diverse mix that includes winemakers, grape growers, suppliers, marketers, consultants and off-premise retailers.

This year's Future Leaders are:

  • Jason Amos – Lallemand Australia Pty Ltd
  • Sam Barry – Jim Barry Wines
  • Nigel Blieschk – Peter Lehmann Wines
  • Angela Brown – All Saints Estate & St Leonards Vineyard
  • Lilian Carter – Private client winemaker/wine industry consultant
  • Andrew Calabria – Calabria Family Wines
  • Christian Dal Zotto – Dal Zotto Wines
  • James Hook – DJ's Grower Services
  • Stuart Hordern – Brokenwood Wines
  • Tom Keelan – The Pawn Wine Co
  • Danielle Kennedy – Camperdown Cellars
  • Dave Milne – Josef Chromy Wines 
  • Suzanne Muntz – Xanadu Wines
  • Samantha Payne – Consultant Sommelier/freelance wine writer
  • Gemma West – Treasury Wine Estates.

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