Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of Grape Barossa I would like to thank the Barons for welcoming us to be a part of today’s event once again.
The Grape Barossa Grower Service Award was established to annually recognise the outstanding contribution of regional grape growers. It’s an opportunity to, above all, acknowledge the voluntary service of those individuals.
Nominations are made by their peers when candidates demonstrate values of dedication, leadership and a sustained period of service to their grape growing community.
This year’s recipient has, through participation in many organisations, been a strong voice for Barossa grape grower interests. He also has a track record for being one of the most innovative growers in the Barossa – in many instances being the first in the region to adopt new practices.
He has been a member of the Barossa Grape Growers Vine Selection Society – a committee dedicated to local vine improvement – since its establishment by Max Loder in the 1960s. Very active on this committee in the 1970s and 80s, he received the honour of Life Membership in 2001.
His advocacy for grape growers continued with his membership of over 35 years on the United Farmers & Graziers, subsequently South Australian Farmers Federation, and now Primary Producers SA – 25 years of this as an executive committee member of the Barossa Wine Grape Growers Council.
And in the late 1990s, alongside other Barossa viticulture luminaries such as Ashley Ratcliffe, Mike McCarthy, Nigel Blieschke and the late Geoff Knights, he was one of the founders of the Barossa Viticulture Technical Group. He remained a committee member for several years, before handing over the reins to his son Ben in 2002.
The BVTG now works very closely within the Barossa Grape & Wine Association to establish best practice programs and information for growers.
Again, in a start-up role, he was a member of the initial committee and board, which set up Barossa Infrastructure Limited – an organisation pivotal to providing local grape growers with access to more water.
Those who know him well say he’s an innovator. A forward thinker. Not simply following what the last two generations have done, but willing to consider change, including new technology. To evaluate, and then work out the fit into business.
He was instrumental in driving Barossa Landcare projects in the late 80s and early 90s, which included trial sites on his Flaxman’s Valley property.
Always progressive by nature, he has never been afraid to evaluate and consider new varieties, clones, technologies, and practices.
In 1987, he purchased and began running a contract harvesting business to help ease cost of production pressures for himself and other growers through mechanisation.
As well as embracing machine harvesting he was, in many instances, one of the first in the area to adopt other new practices in the region. These include different soil moisture-monitoring techniques, subsurface irrigation, partial root-zone drying, mid-row and under-vine mulching, and permanent mid-row swards.
Not surprisingly, he was awarded Barossa Vigneron of the Year in 1992.
In other community roles, he was an elected member of the former Angaston District Council from 1981 to 1986.
And he was involved in both Congregational Youth Fellowship, and Barossa Rural Youth, where he held the offices of President and Office Bearer.
He has been involved in the Keyneton Motorcycle Club for many years, including time as President and other office bearer positions, and been honoured as a Life Member of the Keyneton Motorcycle Club and Motorcycling SA.
He was also a member of the CFS – an organisation whose members we all appreciate have been our saviours in recent weeks. He served this organisation for over 15 years, and received a 10 year service award.
Heavily involved in the Tarrawatta group of rural fire units in the late 1980s, he has been affiliated with the Angaston CFS for many years – always willing and able to help as a rural fire unit with equipment available.
I think you will all agree, this is a very worthy recipient of an award that recognises voluntary service to the Barossa community and its grape growers. It is now, with great pleasure, that I ask Ian Zander to join me on the stage to accept the Grape Barossa Grower Service Award.
delivered by James March, CEO Barossa Grape & Wine Association at the 2014 Barossa Declaration of Vintage