Coonawarra toasts to 2018 ASVO Winemaker of the year announcment

The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) last night announced the Awards for Excellence winners for 2018 at a sold out event at the National Wine Centre.

Taking out the highest honour of ASVO Winemaker of the Year, was Pete Bissell – chief winemaker at Balnaves of Coonawarra.

It was a deserving accolade for a quiet achiever who has been a champion of the wine industry and of Coonawarra for many years. Pete is a foundation member of the Limestone Coast Wine show, Chair of the Limestone Coast Grape and Wine Council, and a member of the Limestone Coast Technical Committee, which coordinates the delivery of research and extension activities in the region. Pete is the lead author of the Red Winemaking chapter of “Australian Winemaking” and with an eye for the future of the region, Pete worked closely with many wine industry groups and stakeholders to present various regional wine industry concerns on fracking, to the SA Parliamentary enquiry into Unconventional Gas in the Limestone Coast in 2016.

Since graduating from Roseworthy and gaining first-class honours from the University of Canterbury, Pete has made wines for several companies and has gained international experience including time spent in Bordeaux, the South of France and Moldova. Pete has completed 38 vintages including the last 30 in Coonawarra, has been a wine show judge since 2000 and has judged at numerous wine shows across Australia.

“Pete has been a keen innovator both in the winery and the vineyard and is eager to share his knowledge. He has also been involved with the development and commercialisation of berry sorting equipment that provides considerable cost advantages. These qualities encapsulate the ASVO Winemaker of the Year Award.” said Wendy Cameron, Chair of the award selection committee.

The ASVO Viticulturist of the Year award was awarded to Colin Bell, Viticulturist and Director of AHA Viticulture, a viticultural consultancy based in Western Australia.

With a background in horticulture, the waves of Margaret River Region drew Colin to the industry in the late 1990’s. Colin’s working life consists of managing vineyards and consulting to wineries and growers. Free time sees him serving as a Board Member for Wines of West Australia and as an Independent Board Member of Australian Vignerons, the peak body for Australian winegrape growers. Colin is a graduate of Charles Sturt University, and the wine industry’s Future Leaders course and his experience spans to New Zealand, Tasmania and South-East Australia. As a viticulturist, Colin loves to challenge practices and use innovation to improve performance and generate profitable businesses. For Col, family, the wine industry and the ocean, are all critical although the order can be challenging.

Liz Riley, Chair of the award selection committee said “It was pleasing to see a diverse field of viticulturists nominated from across the country and from a range of enterprise types. It took considerable effort for the panel to select a short list and then refine that down to the finalists. All the finalists should be very proud to have reached this stage of the process. The challenge in making the selections was very heartening, as it reflects the depth of talent in the viticultural sector of the Australian Wine Industry as well as the next generation who are following behind.”

The full list of award categories and winners are as follows:

  • ASVO Viticulturist of the year – Colin Bell, AHA Viticulture
  • ASVO Winemaker of the Year – Pete Bissell, Balnaves
  • ASVO Viticulture Paper of the Year – Catherine Clarke, Agriculture Victoria
  • ASVO Oenology Paper of the Year – Paul Boss, CSIRO Agriculture and Food
  • ASVO Dr Peter May Award – Rob Bramley, CSIRO Agriculture and Food

ASVO Award recipients are nominated by ASVO-appointed selection committees, comprised of individuals who themselves are distinguished in the fields of viticulture and oenology and who demonstrate exceptional leadership ability and vision. For a list of previous ASVO Awards winners, please visit excellence/award-winners/

The ASVO Awards for Excellence was supported by – Wine Australia, Wiley Blackwell: Bayer, Bio Ag, CHR Hansen, CSIRO, Elders, Jeffries, Lallemand, Netafim Australia, Seguin Moreau, Thomas Elder Consulting & VinWizard.

Awards night wines were kindly supplied by Bellwether Wines, Bird in Hand, Brown Brothers, Hungerford Hill, Oliver’s Taranga and Torbreck.


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