Anna Hooper's expertise is extensive and covers almost every aspect of the wine industry. The knowledge she brings to the board of Australian Vignerons is second to none and we're excited to hear her ideas to help grape growers across Australia.
What is your past experience in the wine grape industry?
AH: I started my career working a number of vintages overseas and have continued to value international experience for gaining a solid understanding of global challenges and opportunities. I have worked in Burgundy, Rhone, Bordeaux, Corsica, Georgia EU, South Africa and also spent time in wine regions of both New Zealand, California as well as in nearly every state of Australia.
Having studied both winemaking and business, my work in the industry has been varied, ranging from vineyard and winemaking, to marketing, sales and business management. I currently manage business operations at our family winery Cape Jaffa Wines where I have been working in various roles since 2003. As well as an interest in the wine industry, I have taken on various roles in environmental sustainability, biosecurity and natural resource management including a number of government board appointments.
Why is it so important for wine grape growers to have representation at a national level?
AH: The Federal Government has made it clear that as an industry, we will have a much greater impact if we have a united voice. Whilst grape growers and winemakers will benefit from working together on many issues, there are also a number of issues that are unique to growers which makes the role of Australian Vignerons important.
The profitability of our industry on a global scale requires that we work together to promote an intelligent, resilient and successful Australian industry, well prepared for the external challenges and opportunities that come our way.
The Australian Vignerons board is a skill based board of independent directors. What specific skills do you have that you think will help Australian wine grape growers?
AH: I bring to the board a balance of both governance skills and industry knowledge. I have eight years’ experience as a board member having held positions on four other private and government boards. Having pursued a wine industry career since leaving school, I have worked in all sorts of roles from planting grapes and dragging winery hoses to fine wine sales at Harrods in London. Career diversity has been an important aspiration of mine as I think having an understanding of all facets of industry can lead to better management skills as well as an ability to relate to a wide range of stakeholders.
What challenges do you see on the horizon for Australian wine grape growers? How will Australian Vignerons help?
AH: Australian grape growers are in a much more positive situation than we have been over the last decade or so. As long as we can continue to maintain strong export value, volume growth and appropriate supply demand balance then we should enjoy a much more prosperous environment from here on in.
The industry will always be faced with political challenges that require additional support and advocacy such as the structure of wine taxation and rebates, ongoing level of export marketing support and natural resource policy settings. Longer term, the industry may also face serious challenges around the debate of the impact of drinking wine on health.
One of Australian Vignerons core strategies is to represent grape growers regarding these political challenges and provide advocacy and policy advice to the Government on national issues of significance. This has an important impact on our ability as an industry to meet these challenges and to remain profitable in a highly competitive global environment.
Australian Vignerons also assists growers to meet their own strategic challenges through advocating for better commercial practices, capacity building and provision of critical information affecting the profitability of the sector.
Another important aspect of Australian Vignerons is biosecurity risk management by working with grape growers and winemakers to manage risk and by influencing biosecurity research, development and extension investments.
What’s the most rewarding part of being involved in Australian Vignerons?
AH: I enjoy the challenge of understanding and interpreting a variety of points of view and helping to deliver fair outcomes for the greater benefit of the grape growing industry. Although I am only new to the role, I see it as an opportunity to make a positive impact on our industry and am really looking forward to embracing that challenge.
What variety of wine are you enjoying at the moment?
AH: I am more about wine style than variety and I am currently really enjoying light bodied reds of any variety or blend of varieties. But if you’d told me that I was going to go that way ten years ago when I was all about flavour intensity I wouldn’t have believed it!
Like many consumers, I tend to be a bit fickle when it comes to what I drink most regularly. I think that’s going to be another big challenge for us as producers to be aware of the trends and flexible enough to adapt to ever-changing preferences.