2018 ASVO Viticulturist of the Year

The 2018 ASVO Viticulturist of the Year award went to Colin Bell, AHA Viticulture a viticultural consultancy based in Western Australia.

I feel very grateful and privileged to have received this acknowledgement from the Australian Society of Oenology and Viticulture. The response from colleagues, friends and family has been overwhelming, and as the first Western Australian recipient I hope this award will raise the awareness of the incredible viticulture happening in our regions. Winning the award has given AHA Viticulture invaluable exposure, and I’m very appreciative for the support of our team, clients and industry partners. The past winners are leaders and innovators that I hold in huge regard, and it is daunting and thrilling to be the current recipient. ASVO cultivates opportunities for viticulturists to connect, share and celebrate as a community. Winning this award was a great honour, and I’m looking forward to assisting in the process of finding the 2019 ASVO Viticulturist of the Year.

With a background in horticulture, the waves of Margaret River Region drew him to the industry in the late 90’s. Col’s working life consists of managing vineyards and consulting to wineries and growers. Free time sees him serving as a Board Member for Wines of West Australia and as an Independent Board Member of Australian Vignerons. As a viticulturist, he loves to challenge practices and use innovation to improve performance and generate profitable businesses. For Colin, family, the wine industry and the ocean are all critical, although the order can be challenging.

Liz Riley, Chair of the award selection committee said “It was pleasing to see a diverse field of viticulturist nominated from across the country, it included small and large business, corporates and independents, male and female candidates. It took some effort for the panel to select a short list and the further selection of finalists was very difficult. All the finalists should be very proud to have reached this stage of the process. The challenge in making the selections was very heartening, as it reflects the depth of talent in the viticultural sector of the Australian Wine Industry as well as the next generation who are following behind.”

Colin has a steadfast commitment to industry connectivity to achieve improvement in all facets of production, financial management, marketing of grapes and wine brand development. Using this approach, Colin has led the evaluation of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot clones in Margaret River which has resulted in the adoption of new clones with enhanced quality and sustainability. This has included vineyard and winemaking trials, production and financial benchmarking. Colin has integrated the use of Growing Degree Days into the management of all his vineyards to contrast and predict key developmental stages and to enable proactive decision-making. Key to the success of Colin’s projects is the adoption of real-time digital data collection including unit-based performance and financial tracking, cloud based storage and data sharing. Colin is the Deputy Chair of Wines of Western Australia, a Director of Australian Vignerons and numerous other industry and community organisations which enables him to extend his work locally, within WA and nationally.

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