Margaret River’s Colin Bell has been named as the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology’s Viticulturist of the Year.
Mr Bell is the first West Australian to receive the prestigious honour, which recognised his hard work and dedication to the wine grape industry.
“I’m really grateful for the acknowledgement from the society, which is the most respected in viticulture and oenology in Australia,” Mr Bell said.
“There are so many awards for wine-making, and not many for viticulture so it is quite special.
“I’ve always been very lucky to have great support from where I work, my business partner Jim Campbell-Clause and the region.”
With a background in horticulture, the lifestyle of the Margaret River region drew Bell to the industry in the late 1990s.
He is the director of Dunsborough-based company AHA Viticulture, a business that provides vineyard management and consulting service to wineries.
As a viticulturist, Bell challenge practices and uses innovation to improve performance and generate profitable businesses.
Mr Bell recently finished a six year stint on the Wines of West Australia board and is an independent board member of Australian Vignerons, the peak body for Australian winegrape growers
He said he was thrilled to be the first from WA to claim the Viticulturist of the Year, and it was win for the region and the state.
“All my board roles are volunteer, it is a lot of time to give up but I do it because I love the region and the industry,” he said.
“It just good for WA to be part of the national wine industry, we are a smaller side of the industry, about 3 to 4 per cent, but it is really important we still get a voice and don’t get forgotten.
“So I guess this award is great because it keeps spotlight on our region.”
ASVO Award recipients are nominated by ASVO-appointed selection committees, comprising individuals who themselves are distinguished in the fields of viticulture and oenology and who demonstrate exceptional leadership ability and vision.
Award selection committee chair Liz Riley said there had been a diverse field of viticulturists nominated from across the country and it took considerable effort for the panel to select a short list, then refine that down to the finalists.
“All the finalists should be very proud to have reached this stage of the process,” she said.
“The challenge in making the selections was very heartening, as it reflects the depth of talent in the viticultural sector of the Australian wine industry as well as the next generation who are following behind.”