Mentoring trial aims to share wine sector knowledge

AGWA is piloting a new mentoring activity designed to connect the wine sector’s people with new ideas.

Mentoring circles have been established in two South Australian wine regions to test their potential to support the spread of knowledge and experience.

Unlike traditional one-on-one mentoring, the approach is based around peer group support, in addition to mentor guidance. Groups of seven or eight work with a single mentor, which allows them to interact with and help each other while being connected to new ways of thinking.

Winemaker and former GWRDC Chief Executive Dr John Harvey is the mentor in McLaren Vale, with wine industry consultant Peter Fuller playing a similar role in the Barossa.

‘Both regions were keen to get involved and we had encouraging interest from individuals wanting to be a part of it’, said AGWA’s Developing People Program Manager Anne Duncan.

The program was developed in consultation with Dr Ann Darwin, a mentoring expert from the University of South Australia.

‘Mentoring can be valuable but there can be a high failure rate when working one-on-one’, Ms Duncan said.

‘Sometimes the mentor doesn’t have the time or exactly the right skills for the role and sometimes the two people just don’t get on. It is very much about personalities.

‘Peer group mentoring provides a very different dynamic, with more flexibility and a focus on introducing new ideas, building relationships and sharing knowledge’.

During the 12-month pilot – which runs until July – each group must meet at least 10 times with their mentor, but can also get together without the mentor or arrange individual meetings.

AGWA will assess the impact and success of the program in partnership with Prof Lisa Given, Professor of Information Studies and a member of the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education at Charles Sturt University.

Barossa Grape & Wine Association Viticultural Development Officer Nicki Robins is pleased with progress to date.

‘Over the past year, eight young Barossa vignerons have met once a month to share their goals and aspirations – as well as their problems and struggles’, she said.

‘They’ve encouraged, questioned and supported each other, and built a lot of trust within the group. By being able to openly share their ideas and experiences, they’ve discovered some amazing opportunities in their business and personal lives – which they’re now ready to run with so it’s quite a dynamic time for many of them’.

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