As Australian Vignerons’ board of directors find their feet in an invigorated organisation, we spoke to Joanna Andrew, Independent Chair for her thoughts on how a board chosen for their skills will benefit Australian wine grape growers.
Why is it so important for wine grape growers to have representation at a national level?
JA: A lot of the issues that directly impact wine grape growers are national issues. For example the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET), Water, Biosecurity...these are all national issues so it is important to have a national body to represent grower interests.
To achieve results we need to create a path of least resistance. The best way to work with the Federal Government is to work together through one national representative body rather than every state and territory separately adding to the narrative. Assistant Minister Ruston has repeatedly said that a united voice is key to progress.
Why has Australian Vignerons chosen to develop a skills based board of independent directors?
JA: Holding a position on board of Australian Vignerons is an important role. By developing an independent, skills based board we are ensuring that the people in that role have the appropriate skills to represent growers.
Having an independent board also ensures that we avoid unconscious bias in decision making.
What challenges do you see on the horizon for Australian wine grape growers? How will Australian Vignerons help?
JA: 1. The first challenge I see for growers is business viability. Australian Vignerons has a strong voice in advocating at a national level for better commercial practices, and working towards greater profitability across the entire wine sector. In recent times AV has been meeting with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to protect growers in this area.
2. Biosecurity will always be a challenge for growers. Australian Vignerons is signatory to the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) and we take our obligations seriously. We’re also at the forefront of collaborating with other industry bodies to share knowledge and manage biosecurity risks.
3. The third challenge I see for grape growers is access to market. As the peak body for grape growers it’s important for us to provide the best avenues to market for our members’ grapes. Australian Vignerons has played a key role in securing the recent $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package and this is just one way to improve market access. I’m looking forward to seeing the benefits this package will provide to grape growers.
What’s the most rewarding part of being involved in Australian Vignerons?
JA: Definitely the people. The wine and grape industry is without doubt the most welcoming, down to earth people I have been involved with. It’s such a warm collegiate of people and very rewarding to work for.
What variety of wine are you enjoying at the moment?
JA: Depends on the season! This winter I have been enjoying a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra or Margaret River. As the weather warms up I’m looking forward to enjoying a Clare Valley Riesling or a sparkling from the Yarra Valley.