Respected members of industry honoured by ASVO

Photo: John Krüger

Prue Henschke and Russell Johnstone have been elected fellows of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) for their particularly outstanding and meritorious contribution to the grape and wine industry and to the Society.

“The selection of Fellows was particularly difficult this year because of the extremely high calibre of candidates within the ASVO membership,” said outgoing ASVO president Brooke Howell.

“The collective wisdom that both these individuals encapsulate is extraordinary as is the diversity of their background and experience.”

Prue Henschke

Henschke became a member of the ASVO in 1981 and has been a strong and professional contributor to the association and the Australian wine industry ever since.

After graduating in Science from the University of Adelaide she spent two years at the Geisenheim Institute in Germany where she worked in the Institute’s vineyards and laboratories. It was here that Henschke gained a passionate interest for the importance of vine breeding.

Henschke’s most significant contribution to the Australian wine industry has been in the field of vine improvement. Henschke recognised the potential benefits of the South Australian Vine Improvement Society and she is a former chair of that organisation, where she successfully sought investment from Wine Australia in a national germplasm collection to include certified varieties, clones and rootstocks.

Another major interest of Henschke’s over many years has been biosecurity and the protection of South Australia’s vines. She served on the former Phylloxera and Grape industry Board and still works closely with Vinehealth Australia in a voluntary capacity advising on possible strategies to keep South Australia free of Phylloxera and other known devastating pests.

She is a member of the Adelaide Hills Wine Region Environment Committee and has also served on advisory committees in the formulation of both the Barossa and the Murray River Water Allocation Plans. Henschke is well known for her work in the use of biodynamic principles and organic practices, as well as the use of native grass species, parasitic wasps and natural predators.

Henschke’s contributions to ASVO include involvement in seminars and workshops, particularly in relation to grafting in the 1990s and early 2000s, when the many pitfalls of this important technique were less well understood.

She has also been actively involved in the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference planning and program committees where her views and experience have been highly valued.

Russell Johnstone

Russell Johnstone has been a strong contributor to the Australian Grape and Wine Industry since the late 1980s. He began his career in Australian Viticulture in 1984, joining Yalumba as their vineyard nursery manager before moving to St Hallett Wines in 1986 as vineyard manager.

His career then progressed to AWRI where he was appointed as the inaugural AWRI/CSIRO viticulturist and he was actively involved in agrochemical management. During his time with AWRI, Johnstone commenced a program for a Masters degree focussed on assessing grape quality in the vineyard, an area which remained as a key focus throughout his career.

In 1994 Johnstone was appointed as a senior viticulturist at Orlando Wyndham. Johnstone’s roles evolved as Orlando transitioned to Pernod Ricard from senior viticulturist, to group viticulturist, to strategic and innovative viticulturist and finally to environmental sustainability manager in 2011.

During his time with Pernod Ricard, Johnstone oversaw many key innovations including implementation of standardised 2.5T picking bins, RFID tagging of bins and weighmaster logging and the collection, coordination and standardisation of grape quality measurements.

Following his time at Pernod Ricard, Johnstone went on to start his own wine industry consultancy, Winecycle. Johnstone has been a true inspiration for many aspiring viticulturists and wine industry researchers throughout his career, and has actively contributed to industry advisory boards.

Johnstone has been a member of ASVO since 1995 and served on the ASVO Board for an extended period from 1999 until 2009. During this time, he was treasurer for four years (2003 – 2006), vice president in 2002 and president in 2009. He also edited ASVO seminar and AWITC proceedings and was involved in the Journal Advisory Committee from 2004-2017. Russell was also actively involved in planning AWITC events over a number of cycles.

The honorary membership category of Fellow of the Australian Society of Viticulture & Oenology recognises the exemplary contributions by Members of the Society, and to the discipline and/or profession of Viticulture and/or Oenology.

The ASVO Fellowships were announced at the ASVO AGM on Monday 14th November 2022.


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