The new Guard

After six years of commitment as Chair of Australia’s largest winegrower organisation, Sheridan Alm has handed the baton to Brett Proud for a three-year term. At the recent meeting of Riverland Wine the management committee were unanimous in their gratitude to Sheridan for her work as their regional Chief and unanimous in selecting Brett Proud to continue the tradition of strong leadership established by the inaugural Chair, Malcolm Hill in 2001, followed by Mick Himsworth, the late Richard Dolan, Roseanne Healy and Sheridan. The following is Brett’s manifesto for Riverland Wine as he begins the journey.

There has never been a more exciting time to be part of the Riverland wine industry.

Many Riverland grape growers would believe this is only possibly due to a simple coincidence of global market variables.

It is much more than that. Read the current Riverland Wine strategic plan and be inspired. It is available at the Riverland Wine office or on the website (  Leadership, innovation, unity and pride are the reasons why we now live in a dynamic, cohesive and profitable Riverland Wine community.

This did not happen by accident. Riverland wine growers are now profiting in their family vineyard business largely due to bold leadership demonstrated over the previous decade by their representative body. “Strategic planning is a disciplined effort that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organisation is, who it serves, what it does, and why it does it, with a focus on the future.”

Riverland Wine is highly regarded at all levels of government and with all wine industry stakeholders. This integrity contributes significantly as an insurance policy for a family vineyard business against potential detrimental policy decisions that are beyond individual control. The list of influences on family vineyard financial sustainability seems endless. Federal tax policy, free trade policy, labour laws, biosecurity, spray drift, transport regulations, NRM, MDBA and water allocations all impact directly on individual business profitability. Riverland wine grape growers’ financial contribution to Riverland Wine is an obligation that ensures each individual family vineyard is strategically represented beyond the farm gate. Ignoring this obligation seems unwise at best.

The RWGA, along with the RWIDC are Riverland Wine. All grape growers and winemakers who have been involved with the Management Committees and Delivery Groups of Riverland Wine since its inception deserve sincere congratulations from the Riverland community. “Riverland Wine has demonstrated bold leadership and a preparedness to be different rather than follow…”

On behalf of the Riverland Wine community I thank Sheridan Alm for her commitment to the role as previous RWGA Chair. Sheridan will continue as a valued member of the Riverland Wine team and contribute significantly to the Wine Grape Council of SA and Australian Vignerons. This work is especially important as both those peak organisations navigate towards more streamlined representative structures. As the largest contributing regional body to both these organisations, it is particularly important for Sheridan to continue this work.

Chris Byrne, as Executive Chair of Riverland Wine, continues to work tirelessly with the best interests of each Riverland wine business at heart. Chris’ leadership is inspirational and much of Riverland Wine’s success has been the result of the relationships he has developed with all stakeholders, from the local vineyards, wineries, and the local community and all the way to Canberra. If you have read the Riverland Wine weekly roundup emailed directly to you, or in the local paper, none of this will be a surprise.

As the recently elected Chair of the RWGA I look forward to leading the wine grape growers’ representative organisation for Australia’s largest wine region. I will strive to continue Riverland Wine’s momentum to become the “vineyard to the world”.

“Be bold, be ambitious, be generous.

Brett Proud, Chair, RWGA

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