It all starts in the vineyard! So our #vitichicks are essential to what ends up in the bottle. This award recognises a vineyard owner/winegrape grower who as a consultant, employee, Managing Director or CEO has made an outstanding contribution to the Australian winegrape growing industry.
This award is proudly sponsored by
Brooke Howell, Yalumba
Brooke is the Viticulturist and Technical Manager at Yalumba Family Vignerons based in the Barossa Valley. She oversees trial work and technical management of company-owned vineyards across approximately 800Ha in 3 regions of South Australia.
Brooke completed study at the University of Adelaide including a Bachelor of Viticulture in 2009 and a Bachelor of Honours (Viticulture) in 2010. Following this Brooke began working for Yalumba in December 2010. Brooke’s experience in viticulture ranges from cool climate premium grape growing to a more warm climate commercial scale. Some of her main trial work has focused on organic and biodynamic production along with different methods for adaptation to climate change. During her time in the industry Brooke has participated in the Australian Women in Agriculture Leadership and Decision Making course as well as the Next Crop program; a leadership course aimed at up skilling the next generation of viticulturists in the Barossa Valley. Brooke is an active member of the Barossa Viticulture Technical Group which involves disseminating technical information to growers and assisting with regional trials along with judging at the South Australian pruning competition.
Jennifer Doyle, Jansz
In wine, Tasmania is Jennifer’s first love. Ice chilled bubbles amidst rugged natural beauty, an empty beach, Smithfield collies!
Jennifer’s viticultural journey began 25 years ago in her home state of NSW. However, her wine compass has been resolutely fixed on a southerly bearing. Whilst Jennifer’s career has seen her traversing cool climate regions of Orange, NSW, Pemberton and Margaret River, WA, the most recent 9 years have found her firmly planted in (and planting!) the Jansz ‘Parish’ and ‘Woodside’ vineyards, in southern Tasmania.
In work and in life, sustainability and treading lightly on our earth are close to Jennifer’s heart. She began exploring alternative methods of managing pests and diseases early in her career, realising the multi-faceted value of protecting and enhancing biological diversity. Jennifer’s 2012 Dr Don Martin Sustainable Viticulture Fellowship study tour further inspired this pathway.
Moving to Tasmania was pivotal, for Jennifer representing the ultimate in Australian cool climate viticulture. Here, sparkling wine varieties excel in their expression and her most recently appointed role, Jansz Vigneron, broadens her scope to include being part of the winemaking team alongside viticulture for Jansz Tasmania sparkling.
Melissa Brown, Gemtree Wines
Melissa Brown is a third generation grape grower, but rather than following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, she has well and truly forged her own way. In 2002 Melissa was awarded the Trott Family Trophy for Services to Viticulture and the Environment and in 2007 she was awarded McLaren Vale’s Grower of the Year, making her only one of a handful of women to be bestowed these honours in the history of the awards.
In 2007, Melissa embarked on the biggest challenge of her viticultural career when she commenced the conversion of Gemtree’s vineyards to organic and biodynamic. At home she was eating and growing organic food and making a conscious choice to only use organic products, but at work she would suit up in protective clothing and in her words “nuke the vineyard” with pesticides and herbicides. Her perseverance has paid off and ten years on, Gemtree has the largest biodynamically farmed vineyard holding in Australia. The move to organic and biodynamic certification has opened a raft of new opportunities for Gemtree Wines, particularly in the export market. Gemtree Wines is now a major exporter of wine to Sweden and other Nordic countries, all due to being certified organic and biodynamic.