Meet the Finalists: Researcher / Innovator of the Year 2019

Research and innovation is where it’s at! And the research these women are doing is breaking new ground for wine production both here and around the world.

The Researcher / Innovator of the Year is open to an individual OR a team who have demonstrated excellence in the field of grape and/or wine research.

This award is proudly sponsored by

Watch the AWIWA 2019 ceremony streamed LIVE from New York!

Tuesday 17 September 8pm NY time / Wednesday 18 September 10am AEST

Congratulations to this year’s Researcher / Innovator finalists! #winechicksrule

Dr. Joanna Gambetta, Charles Sturt University

One of the key components of the quality of a wine is its aroma and that’s where Dr Joanna Gambetta’s research is focused. Her current research at the National Wine and Grape Industry Centre at Charles Sturt University is examining the aroma composition of grapes and wines in relation to different biotic and abiotic stresses. She hopes this will help the industry adapt to a changing climate.

Dr Gambetta’s PhD in wine science at the University in Adelaide looked at different compositional aspects of Chardonnay grapes and related them to the sensory profile of the corresponding wine to pinpoint which variables were important drivers of wine quality. This information can be used to develop objective parameters to the quality of Chardonnay grapes, juice and wines.

Dr Gambetta brings a global view to her work having studied in Peru, France and Australia. She has a Master’s degree from Montpellier SupAgro in oenology and viticulture

Inca Lee, Vinehealth Australia

Inca was appointed CEO of Vinehealth Australia in April 2016. Inca has extensive experience in the wine industry, working for more than 17 years for global wine and spirits company Pernod Ricard Winemakers in senior roles across the supply chain; from viticulture operations, research and development, marketing, corporate social responsibility to corporate communications.

Inca’s core focus was to drive new product development, improve process efficiencies and ensure brand integrity through innovative leadership, agility and connection with the consumer.

It is with this strong industry perspective, customer focus and value ethos that Inca drives Vinehealth Australia’s operations to ensure outstanding biosecurity outcomes for grapegrowers, winemakers and key wine industry and government stakeholders. With a fresh and innovative approach, Inca and her dedicated team are driving positive changes in attitudes and behaviour in the biosecurity space, enabling a prosperous Australian wine industry.

Mango Parker, AWRI

Mango is one of those lucky people with an amazing dream job. As Senior Scientist at The Australian Wine Research Institute and University of South Australia PhD candidate, she spends her days unravelling the puzzle of wine flavour, using chemistry and sensory techniques. Her career path began with a Bachelor of Science at Flinders University, then branched out to a graduate science position with a large wine company, before joining the AWRI.

“The flavour precursors I’m studying are actually pretty cool. They are formed by the grape and have no colour or smell, but they can release a burst of flavour in the mouth. Being shortlisted for the 2019 Australian Women in Wine Award for Researcher/Innovator of the year feels a bit like a giant virtual group hug from a huge international network.”

“I want to encourage others, particularly women and girls, to think big, follow your dreams and tap into the supportive network that is here to help you. I want to thank all the women and men who supported me on my wine science journey.”

The dream of every scientist is to make a difference to the world, and Mango’s research has changed the way we think about flavour precursors, and opened up the possibility of improving wine flavour by harnessing this knowledge. Mango was involved in the discovery of rotundone, the potent ‘black pepper’ aroma compound in Australian cool climate Shiraz, developing the AWRI commercial services assay for smoke taint, and investigations on tannin and phenolics in red and white wines.

Being a finalist for the 2019 Australian Women in Wine Award for Researcher/Innovator of the year builds on a recent run of success for Mango. In recognition of her work on flavour precursors, this May she was awarded the inaugural Manfred Rothe Gold Award for Excellence in Flavour Science for early career researchers with less than eight years since PhD completion, despite the fact she hasn’t submitted her thesis yet. Other recent awards include a best poster award at both the 17th and 16th AWITC, and the judges’ choice best three-minute student talk at the 17th AWITC ‘In the Wine Light’ session. Like many amazing women, she has achieved all this while working three days a week, raising three children and supporting the family winemaking business!

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