Meet the Finalists: Viticulturist of the Year 2019

Our #vitichicks do the hard yards in the vineyard to produce the fruit everyone wants, all the while keeping on top of the latest research and best practice methods to ensure top quality yields year after year.

This award recognises that great wine always starts in the vineyard. And in particular it looks at the consistent performance of the viticulturist over the last few seasons, and their use of innovation and/or best practice methods to achieve results.

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 Viticulturist finalists! #winechicksrule

Sheridan Alm, Starrs Reach Vineyard

Sheridan is directly involved with the strategic direction and management of the Starrs Reach Vineyard portfolio, one of the larger in the Riverland region of South Australia. Alongside her husband Craig, 6000 tonnes of popular premium style wine grapes are produced over 250 hectares of vineyard. Starrs Reach Vineyard is a wine grape grower and wine producer of scale, producing premium quality fruit and wine to specification.

Starrs Reach Vineyard is operated on the ethos that what happens below the ground is equally as important as what happens above the ground. Nurturing the natural processes that occur in the vineyard and working with the land to reduce their environmental footprint is achieved using low input, sustainable and innovative practices that optimise production and prioritise efficiency.

Sheridan is the 6th generation of her family to farm on the River Murray and has a healthy respect for the dynamic yet fragile natural resources on which her business is reliant and to that extent served as a Board Member with SA Murray Darling Basin NRM Board and as Chair of the River Murray Advisory Committee during the last drought period. It is this love of the riverine environment which led her to complete a Degree in Environmental Management at the University of Adelaide, Roseworthy and later an Associate Degree in Business Management.

Sheridan is a skilled viticulturalist with an integrated pest management focus and as former Chair and current Deputy Chair of the Riverland Winegrape Growers Association believes in empowering growers with a strong voice and better business tools. Sheridan is a graduate of the Future Leaders wine industry program and the Riverland representative to the Wine Grape Council of South Australia. Sheridan is also a mother to five busy children and appreciates the opportunities and challenges for women in the Australian wine industry and is honoured to be a finalist in the Australian Women in Wine Awards.

Brooke Howell, Yalumba Family Winemakers

Brooke is the Barossa Valley Vineyard Manager and Viticulturist for South Australia at Yalumba Family Winemakers. Alongside her vineyard management position, Brooke also 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 as the Viticulturist for Barossa Valley, from which she has worked up the ranks to her current position as Barossa Vineyard Manager.

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. Brooke became the first female Chair of the Barossa Viticulture Technical Group in 2018, helping to disseminate technical information to growers, assisting with regional trials along with judging at the South Australian pruning competition. Additionally, since November 2017 Brooke has been an active board director for the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology and is currently the Vice-President.

Amanda Mader, Vine Scout

Amanda’s career focus for the past 25 years has been dedicated to viticulture with extensive experience and practical application in an array of viticultural regions in South Australia. including the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale and Inland regions (Riverland).

Currently she operates a small business called ‘Vine Scout’ – Vineyard Monitoring and Viticulture Technical Support Service – based in the Barossa Valley, assisting over 20 clients located in the Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale wine growing regions.

She is also involved in a family 7th generation vineyard operation (30ha) and premium boutique wine label – Gumpara Wines in the Barossa Valley.  Gumpara Wines/Vineyards are situated on the north-eastern hill slopes in the Barossa Valley and supply wine grapes to Gumpara Wines, Casella (Peter Lehmann Wines) and Bethany Wines. Staple varietals grown are predominately Shiraz, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon and Semillon. They also grow Vermentino, Merlot and Pinot Gris.

Since it began in 2003, Amanda has been a member of the Barossa Viticulture Technical Group and previous committee member for the Barossa Vine Selection Society.

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