Meet the Finalists: Viticulturist of the Year 2020
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
Congratulations to this year’s Viticulturist finalists! #winechicksrule
Catherine Kidman, Wynns Coonawarra
Dr Catherine Kidman has been a part of the Viticultural team at Wynns Coonawarra Estate since 2011. Her primary role is overseeing the technical program as well as implementing the research and development directions for the vineyards in Coonawarra.
Cath completed her PhD with Adelaide University examining grapevine rootstocks, water stress, flowering and fruitset. This has given her good grounding for her more recent work at Wynns exploring vine water status, and the role of climate for early, accurate yield predictions, as well as other trials in an attempt to understand the complexities of the vineyard environment. Along with her work at Wynns, she also enjoys her supervisory roles with both Masters and PhD students and thinks there’s never been a more interesting and exciting time to be a viticulturist.
Cath is motivated by the challenges that the season, soil types, and varieties present and is humbled to be a part of a renown and exciting viticultural and winemaking team that grow fruit that contribute to some of Australia’s most exceptional wines
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 is actively involved in the wider industry, and became the first female Chair of the Barossa Viticulture Technical Group in 2018 and is the current President of the Australian Society of Viticulture & Oenology. She is passionate about collaboration and has been involved in various industry reference groups to assist researchers in developing tools that will be applicable for practising Viticulturists.
Alex Miller, Voyager Estate
Hailing from Tamworth, New South Wales, Alex studied Applied Science Viticulture at CSU in the early noughties and trundled straight out in to the wine world of the Hunter Valley. Jumping between the vineyard and winery gave her a healthy respect for both sides of the fence. She even went rogue for a couple of years working and travelling through UK/Europe before landing a grown up job in viticulture at Voyager Estate.
During the past decade at Voyager, Alex has been a champion for Environmental Sustainability and more recently joined the board of the Margaret River Wine Association Sustainability Group. Years of trialling wacky ideas, making varietal and clonal vineyard improvements, thrown in with the usual seasonal complexities, means there is never a dull moment. The biggest shift of all – the transition to certified organic farming. Alex says it has been a wonderful learning curve and one she is truly proud to have nailed!
When she’s not hugging it out with the grapevines, you can find Alex chasing her crazy pooch and 4-year-old around nature’s wonderland of Margaret River!