Wine industry mentor program breaks new ground

Prof Kerry WIlkinson and Dr Renata Ristic

The Wine Industry Mentor Program, which pairs early career wine sector professionals with respected wine sector leaders, is expanding into all areas of the wine industry.

This year the program includes wine business, wine marketing, media, photography, wine education, winemaking, viticulture and oenology, while keeping a strong connection with wine communications.

The program was established by Wine Communicators of Australia (WCA) and the University of Adelaide.

“Much of the success of the Australian wine industry is owed to its collegiate nature and the willingness of members to assist others to grow and develop. This is a perfect example of that, not only evidenced by the enthusiasm of the participants but also by the cooperation of the four organisations that are partnering to offer a world-class program,” said Andrew Stark, Executive Officer at Wine Communicators of Australia.

The expansion of the program in 2021 has been made possible due to the exciting partnership between WCA, the University of Adelaide, Wine Australia and the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO).

“The program provides early career professionals from the wine industry with the chance to refine their skills and boost their career opportunities by tapping into the experiences and insights from the best in their field,” said the University of Adelaide’s Dr Armando Maria Corsi who is Associate Professor of Wine Business at the Adelaide Business School.

“Training doesn’t end when people graduate: life-long learning is an essential part of students’ and professionals’ careers.”

Chris Waters, Executive Officer at the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology said the ASVO is delighted to be able to offer a mentor program to members. 

“Like membership in a professional society, it is often the intangible aspects of a mentor program that offer the greatest value. The richness of the relationship and the engagement that you can have, both as a mentor or mentee, build aspiration and skills to prepare for the next stage of your career,” he said.

“The program provides early career professionals from the wine industry with the chance to refine their skills and boost their career opportunities by tapping into the experiences and insights from the best in their field.”Dr Armando Corsi

“Importantly, a national mentor program of this nature fills a gap in people development support offered to the sector,” said Jo Hargreaves, Senior Program Manager Wine Australia. “The benefit of a co-ordinated approach between the four partners is already evident in the quality of mentors secured.”

Over 40 industry leaders are set to take up the mantle as a mentor in 2021. They include Peter Leske of Revenir Winemaking, Brett McClen from Brown Family Wines, Professor Kerry Wilkinson from the University of Adelaide and Trish Barry from Mastermind Consulting to name just a few. 

The program, which will run over a period of six months from June to November 2021, consists of monthly one-on-one sessions with a mentor and access to a range of resources through the program’s online mentoring platform. It is especially attractive to people who want to follow in the footsteps of their mentors.

Now in its third year, the program’s past participants have reflected on their experience:

“The program was a great opportunity to learn from wine industry leaders. I felt like I gained something special both professionally and personally which was truly a gift in a challenging year,” said Leigh Woodrow, Sales Manager at Langmeil Wines.

“The program gives you far more back than you put in. We have both challenged each other and from that comes growth and inspiration,” said Gill Gordon-Smith, lecturer TAFESA. 

“I was fortunate enough to work with and learn from a mentor who knows more about the wine industry than most will ever be able to remember. My mentor provided a very calm and balanced sounding board for me and allowed me to be reassured there is a future in the industry for me,” said Andrew Schwilk, Co-founder and Director of Cellar Cru. 

Applications are now open for the 2021 Wine Industry Mentor Program.

Mentor program details

Tagged in Engagement and Industry, School of Agriculture Food and Wine, Viticulture and Oenology