The speech below was delivered by James March, CEO of the Barossa Grape & Wine Association at the annual Barossa Declaration of Vintage Ceremony.


Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Barossa Grape & Wine Association I would like to thank the Barons for welcoming us to be a part of today’s event once again.

The BGWA’s “Services to Industry” award was established to annually recognise the outstanding contribution of regional grape growers. It’s an opportunity to, above all, acknowledge the voluntary service of those individuals.

Nominations are made by their peers when candidates demonstrate values of dedication, leadership and a sustained period of service to their grape growing community.

The BGWA is very pleased to be making the award this year to a younger member of the Barossa grape growing community.

He’s someone who has very visibly ‘stepped-up’ and taken a leadership role in many areas – not least sustainability of the environment.

With a changing climate and all the pressures that places on the land in terms of limited water resources and the increasing need to be focussing on the health of our soils – this is a very important charter to be pursuing. And this person is definitely leading the way on some very important projects in this area.

A graduate of Grape Barossa’s 2011 “Next Crop” leadership program for young Barossa vignerons, this person is described by his peers as “the quiet achiever”.

At only 39 years of age, he has been managing the family business for more than 10 years, which comprises 30 Hectares of vineyard and a dairy enterprise.

He has always strived for icon quality grapes – and a parcel of the family’s old Shiraz regularly makes Penfold’s Grange.

The family’s remaining land is utilised for their 200-cow dairy herd, plus 100 replacement stock, and they’re the sole suppliers of cow’s milk to the award-winning Barossa Valley Cheese Company.

This person has been a member of the Koonunga Ag Bureau for the past 20 years, during which time he has served twice as Chair and also filled the Secretary role.

In his most recent stint as Chair, he initiated the Ag Bureau’s “Koonunga Sustainability and Biodiversity Project”, for which the group obtained over $150,000 in funding including a $50,000 grant through Natural Resources, Adelaide & Mt Lofty Ranges, to look at issues with soil health in the Koonunga region.

This person has led and driven this project, developing a coordinated approach to investigating the issues, and driving a course of action to improve the soil health of the whole region.

As part of this project, he leads by example in encouraging other landholders to increase biodiversity on their properties and improve the land for future generations. He is always willing to talk about his environmental work with fellow landholders, and regularly hosts groups at his northern Barossa property to share his learnings.

As a participant in the Next Crop leadership program for young vignerons in 2011, he led a ground-breaking project to set up an online forum for Barossa grape growers to share information and ideas.

And one-on-one, he has been known to help out neighbours less fortunate than himself, with equipment and encouragement, in times of difficulty.

He has been a member of Barossa Vine Improvement (formerly the Barossa Grapegrowers Vine Selection Society) since 2006, and is currently Vice Chair of this group which, in 2014, successfully launched the SARDI Heritage Shiraz clones to the Barossa grape growing and winemaking community. The commercial release of the SARDI clones is a significant step forward in Shiraz clonal development in Australia.

As well as his many activities within the Barossa grape growing community, this person is equally committed to the dairy industry. He spent several years on the local sub-committee of Dairy SA, following in the footsteps of father John, who has lobbied politicians for better prices for local dairy farmers for many years.

After spending three months at a dairy college in Japan in 1996, he set up an exchange program with Japanese students. And, during a study tour in 2011, he travelled to China, Belgium, Holland, Sweden and Chile and produced a documentary through the “iDairy Sustainable Farming Project”, designed to promote agriculture as a career choice to young people in South Australia.

In other areas of the community, he has held various positions in the Neukirch Lutheran Church, and is a member of Nuriootpa’s Redeemer Lutheran School Council.

As the Grape Barossa committee member who nominated this person said: “to be active on this many committees and other activities, with a young family and a business over two struggling industries, makes him a strong candidate”.

I think you will all agree, this is a very worthy recipient of an award that recognises voluntary service to the Barossa community and its grape growers.

It is with great pleasure, that I ask Jamie Nietschke, to join me on the stage to accept the Barossa Grape & Wine Association’s “Services to the Industry” award.

Congratulations Jamie.