Local Viticulturist Toast of the Nation


Viticulturist Kerry DeGaris has been named the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) Viticulturist of the Year, at the annual ASVO Awards of Excellence hosted at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide earlier this week. The prestigious award sponsored by Wine Australia honours an outstanding viticulturist who demonstrates a broad positive contribution to the Australian wine industry, and acknowledges adoption of innovative practices, technologies or standards.

The chair of the ASVO Awards selection committee, Liz Riley, described Dr DeGaris as an exceptional communicator: “It’s that willingness to collaborate and work with industry beyond your region and that generosity with knowledge; there are people who do it really well and Kerry is certainly one of them,” she said.

Dr DeGaris is a technical viticulturist for Treasury Wine Estates based in Coonawarra, and is also the chair of the Technical sub-committee of the LCGWC. LCGWC executive officer, Ulrich Grey-Smith, said she has been instrumental in facilitating and conducting research and extension in the Limestone Coast.

“Kerry has really made a difference in terms of research inroads in this region, and has fostered some really strong and productive relationships between local growers, PhD students and other up-and-coming researchers,” he explained.

Projects steered by Dr DeGaris have enabled growers to better understand and manage a range of challenges including Eutypa, iron bacteria in irrigation water, salinity and cabernet berry shrivel. Her work has also included winemaking trials from local rootstock trials, while her passion for locally-targeted research has seen the development of numerous fact sheets, webinars and workshops which are now being utilised at a national level.

ASVO Award recipients are nominated by ASVO-appointed selection committees comprised of individuals who themselves are distinguished in the fields of viticulture and oenology. Dr Catherine Kidman, viticulturist for Wynns Coonawarra Estate, was also among the finalists, along with Brett McClen, chief viticulturist for Brown Family Wine Group.

“It was an extremely tight, high-calibre field and certainly the toughest year in which I have had to judge, which really reflects the depth of the industry at the moment, and all three viticulturist finalists were extremely worthy contenders,” said Liz Riley.

McLaren Vale winemaker Corrina Wright was named 2019 ASVO Winemaker of the year, taking the title from 2018 winner Pete Bissell, Balnaves of Coonawarra chief winemaker and outgoing chair of the LCGWC.

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