Stamina needed to be a Nuffield Scholar

Yering Station’s chief viticulturist Andrew Clarke has recently commenced an intensive overseas trip with a packed 42-day program.

‘We’ll be studying various industries, meeting with trade delegates, and looking at things from a global distribution and agribusiness perspective, all the way down to the ground level nuts and bolts’, he said. ‘Generally we’re looking at very innovative businesses and both big- and small-scale operations’.

The tour, which started on 1 June, takes in Singapore, the Philippines, China, Canada, the US (Washington State, Idaho and Washington DC) and Ireland.

None of Andrew’s five colleagues will be from the wine community – indeed he is the only viticulturist among the 73 Nuffield Scholars selected from around the world this year – but that is the point. This group tour, known as the Global Focus Program, is intended to expose participants to as-wide-a-variety of inputs and influences as possible.

‘It’s designed to open your eyes to what is actually out there and to really step outside your comfort zone of what you’re familiar with and see what you can take from other industries’, Andrew said.

He has already participated in an eight-day conference with the 72 other Scholars (coincidentally it was held in Champagne, but he didn’t get to see much of the region) and later this year will spend another eight weeks in the US and other countries focusing on his nominated study topic, the management of subsoil restrictions.

‘It’s quite common for people to do this six-week Global Focus Program and their additional nine weeks of personal study and have the capacity to write half a dozen or more research papers on different topics that they’ve found along the way’.

The upcoming few weeks excite him, despite their intensive nature.

‘I’m really interested in the China leg, because I’m fascinated to see how they manage the supply chain with the sheer volume of people that they have to get produce to. And I think Washington State and Idaho are going to be really interesting because there’s a lot of horticulture in that area. I’m looking at anything horticultural that I feel I’ll really able to tap into. It’s that perennial crop system that is pretty synergistic with viticulture’.

Andrew joined Yering Station about three years ago after stints at Normans Wines, Nepenthe and De Bortoli Wines and a few years out of the sector to work in cheese making. He’d previously put off applying for a Nuffield Scholarship because the time wasn’t right, before realising that the time is never exactly right so he just had to go for it.

A total of 25 scholarships were awarded in Australia this year. Andrew’s travel companions will include a mixed enterprise farmer examining the use of communication technology to better manage farms and a cherry grower looking at ways to better handle fruit in the packing process.

Applications for the 2016 Nuffield Scholarship are open until 30 June 2015, click here for more information.

andrew clarke