Wine industry’s new Nuffield Scholar announced

Viticulturist Andrew Clarke is the next Australian wine industry leader to set off on a huge year of travel and research as the latest recipient of the prestigious Nuffield Scholarship.

Chief viticulturist for Yering Station (part of the Rathbone Wine Group) in the Yarra Valley, Mr Clarke will use the scholarship to further investigate managing subsoil restrictions in established vineyards.

The Nuffield Scholarship is supported by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) and Nuffield Australia. The scholarship offers a 16-week program of both group and individual travel, with Mr Clarke joining a group of fellow scholarship winners from a wide range of agricultural industries.

AGWA Acting Chief Executive Office AndreasClark said the partnership between AGWA and Nuffield Australia encourages talented Australians to contribute to the grape and wine community.

“We’re proud to support Andrew’s work that will add to the intellectual health of our sector and the environmental health of our soils,”Mr Clark said.

2013 Nuffield scholar Matt Pooley, from Pooley Wines in Tasmania, said Mr Clarke is about to launch into a very big year and his advice is to stay open-minded to the many varied experiences that come with the scholarship.

“My head is still swimming with the things I learned and places I visited, but it was all worthwhile and I expect I will be still thinking about ways to implement all the ideas it generated 12 months from now,” Mr Pooley said.

“Some of the places and people you visit may not seem relevant initially but there was always something to take away, you just have to remain open-minded and be ready to learn.”

Mr Clarke will study great plain grasses and see new deep ripping technology in the USA,inspect irrigation technology in Israel and travel to both France and South Africa.

“The soil research community estimates that up to 80 per cent of existing vineyards are significantly affected by subsoil issues,” Mr Clarke said.

“Many are planted on sodic, acidic, salty and impermeable subsoils, or a combination of these, resulting in restricted root growth and significant reductions in vineyard productivity and profitability.

“By increasing the soil volume available to the vine, the finite resources of soil, nutrition and water can be used more efficiently.

“There is a need for practical and affordable delivery systems of soil ameliorants to the subsoil – it is possible that this system may be physical or biological,but it must be able to work practically within the constraints of an existing vineyard or orchard system.”

Andrew Clarke
Andrew Clarke