Media Release

Merger creates a new blend for wine producers

30 June 2014

The new Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) will begin operations tomorrow, offering centralised marketing, export regulation and  research and development (R&D) support for Australia's $3.4 billion wine industry.

Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, today announced the appointment of the acting chair and directors saying the single authority demonstrated the Australian Government's commitment to increase returns to grape producers and wine makers, improve market access and to reduce regulatory burden.

"The legislation to replace the Wine Australia Corporation and the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) and transfer functions and staff into AGWA passed Parliament in November last year, and takes effect on 1 July," Minister Joyce said.

"The acting appointments are initially for three months to allow for the early establishment of the authority. I'm confident that this board of directors are the right people for the job, representing a blend of experience necessary to lead the new organisation through its infant stage."

Based in Adelaide, the new authority brings together R&D functions and marketing and export regulation functions following a proposal by key industry bodies, the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Wine Grape Growers Australia.

"AGWA has an important role in enhancing the profitability and sustainability of the wine sector to create real returns at the farmgate and cellar door. I expect they will work closely with wine grape growers, wine producers and exporters to identify and maximise areas where the financial investment can leverage best returns," Minister Joyce said.

"I would like to thank the GWRDC and Wine Australia, and particularly the respective chairs the Hon. Rory McEwen and Mr George Wahby, for their efforts to ensure the continuity of work in the transition to the new authority. I also thank the efforts of industry representative bodies and the authority's selection committee for their work to establish AGWA.

"Forming a new single authority demonstrates the government’s commitment to delivering real reforms to agricultural industries without adding further costs."

AGWA will have a budget of $34.7m in 2014–15, with approximately $11.5 million to be provided by the Commonwealth as matching funds for research and development in accordance with relevant legislation. The authority's membership on an ongoing basis will be finalised following the initial establishment phase.

Acting Appointees

The interim board of acting directors has been appointed for three months to enable the setup of the new authority. Final board arrangements will be determined and announced following completion of the selection process.

Mr Brian Walsh (South Australia) – chair

Brian Walsh is currently a non-executive member of Wine Australia Corporation. Brian boasts a 24 year career at Yalumba, spanning roles of Chief Winemaker, Director of Production and Director of Strategy & Business Development as well as 20 years working in winemaking and management positions in McLaren Vale. Brian has previously held roles including President of the South Australian Wine Industry Association, Chair of the South Australian Wine Tourism Advisory Board and Chair of Barossa Winemakers Committee, Chair of the Wine Innovation Cluster at the Waite Campus, Urrbrae and is currently Independent Chair of Riverland Wine. Brian has been a senior wine judge with more than 30 years experience and has been both Chairman of Judges at the Royal Adelaide Wine Show and Chair of its Wine Committee.

Ms Eliza Brown (Victoria) – director

Eliza Brown is the CEO of Peter R Brown Family Vineyards and the first female director and board member of Brown Brothers Wines with strong skills in advertising, sales and marketing.

Mr John Casella (New South Wales) – director

John Casella is the Managing Director of Casella wines and well known for the creation of the successful Yellowtail label.

Mr Brian Croser AO (South Australia) – director

Brian Croser is the Former President of the Winemakers' Federation and has made a strong contribution to research and education, establishing the Charles Sturt Wine Science degree in Wagga Wagga.

Mr John Forrest (Victoria) – director

John Forrest understands the challenges faced by table, wine grapes and dried vine fruit producers through his experience and consultation with viticulture clients through irrigation development.

Mr Ian Henderson (Queensland) – director

Ian Henderson is the CEO of Australian Vinegar and is a professional wine and vinegar maker with qualifications in wine science.

Ms Janice McDonald (Western Australia) – director

Janice McDonald has worked in the industry for over 25 years and is the chief winemaker for Burch Family wines, holding a Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in wine science.

Mr Kim Williams AM (New South Wales) – director

Kim Williams AM has vast experience as a company director in Australian media and will bring a range of corporate skills to the Australian Grape and Wine Authority.