Ben Rose grew up with viticulture in his veins after spending his childhood on his parents vineyard. This spurred on a passion for the wine industry which has seen him study and work in vineyards all over the world. Keep reading to find out the skills Ben brings to the board of Australian Vignerons and how his understanding of viticulture will help grape growers.
What is your past experience in the wine grape industry?
BR: I grew up on my family's Rising Vineyard in the Yarra Valley where I learnt the basics of grape growing in a cool climate. This ignited an interest in wine and I went on to study Agricultural Science. Following university I moved to Griffith and worked for DeBortoli Wines before heading to South Australia to work for Yalumba as the Growers Services and Nursery Manager in Waikerie.
The call came in to work overseas and I travelled to South Africa to undertake a vineyard feasibility study followed by some time in Mexico. Upon my return to Australia in 1997 I established Performance Viticulture, an international viticultural consultancy which continues to this day.
Why is it so important for wine grape growers to have representation at a national level?
BR: Across Australia the grape growing community is wide and diverse. Each state, region and vineyard has its own issues which impact on the day to day operations of their businesses.
This local focus somewhat reduces the focus on the big picture. National issues are often the not so sexy issues such as biosecurity, which while going well are put to the background, but when an incursion occurs, become critical to the industry.
A national body such as Australian Vignerons ensures that these issues are continually discussed and nurtured behind the scenes with the ability to have a swift response when required. National representation, particularly one with the Government's ear, also addresses issues with a coherent and focussed voice capable of cutting through the 'noise' of the diverse needs of individual growers.
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?
BR: I bring a keen understanding of the needs of grapegrowers from direct involvement over a lifetime in the wine industry. I also bring business analyst skills and skills as a specialised agri-business and property valuer.
What challenges do you see on the horizon for Australian wine grape growers? How will Australian Vignerons help?
BR: Right now biosecurity is a hot topic with well documented recent incidents that have the ability to significantly impact every grapegrower in Australia. Australian Vignerons is currently in discussion and negotiation with the peak national and state biosecurity agencies/authorities to ensure that the interest of grapegrowers is understood and their livelihood maintained.
What’s the most rewarding part of being involved in Australian Vignerons?
BR: Being able to give back to the wine industry that has provided me a lifelong career. I enjoy assisting, supporting and challenging the views of individual growers, and providing support to the industry to ensure it continues to progress and succeed in the future.
What variety of wine are you enjoying at the moment?
BR: Riesling as the weather warms up, otherwise a Heathcote Shiraz.