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Sam Tolley steps down from AWBC leadership

After 13 years at the helm, Sam Tolley is to step down as Chief Executive of the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation.

His decision, effective from 7 February, was announced today by the AWBC’s Chairman, The Hon John Moore AO.

“Sam believes the completion of the Directions to 2025 industry strategy this year was an important milestone for the wine sector and an appropriate time for him to hand over the reins,” Mr Moore said. “He played a key role in the conception, development and marketing of the strategy, which has been widely embraced.”

Mr Tolley joined the AWBC in 1994 after working in the industry at the family firm of AE & F Tolley and Wirra Wirra wines.

During his time as Chief Executive, Australia’s wine exports have grown from $360 million to $3 billion a year and the AWBC has expanded from 15 staff to 60, including seven overseas offices.

“It has been an exciting time but also a hectic time and I think I am now ready to follow up new interests,” Mr Tolley said. “I am very satisfied with what the Corporation has achieved, as I am with its sound financial position, and I am extremely positive about the sector’s future, despite the recent challenges thrown up by the drought and international competition.”

A Federal statutory authority, the AWBC’s responsibilities include export compliance, wine promotion, information and analysis, trade negotiations, maintaining the integrity of Australia's winemaking practices, and defining the boundaries of wine producing areas.

Mr Moore said Mr Tolley had overseen some significant achievements, including:

Development of an effective wine export approval system and Label Integrity Program. Providing greater access to international markets through international agreements, notably the initialling of the Wine Agreement with the EU. Australia’s participation in government and industry international wine forums, including the International Organisation of Vine and Wine. Increased information and analysis for the wine sector including a comprehensive, multilingual website to facilitate distribution and use of the AWBC’s services. Establishing a network of offices overseas. Innovative marketing strategies and tools, including the segmentation of Australian wine into distinct personalities, online education modules and podcasts.

“The Corporation has grown with the industry and always remained relevant and I think Sam can take much credit for that,” Mr Moore said.

The AWBC’s Corporation Secretary, Jock Osborne, will be Acting Chief Executive until a new appointment is made.

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