The Winemakers of Rutherglen appoint first ever independent chair

The Winemakers of Rutherglen has welcomed its first ever independent chairperson to its organisation.

As part of the organisation’s growth strategy and to help support business development, innovation and collaboration between the 19 member wineries, Winemakers of Rutherglen welcomed Chris Gillard into the position of independent chairperson in December.

The Winemakers of Rutherglen has been operating as a wine association for over 25 years, becoming officially incorporated in 1992. The organisation serves many functions, including representing its members to all levels of government, running events, supporting tourism and marketing initiatives, assisting with community projects and charity events, and providing business and skills development.

After significant research both nationally and internationally, including discussions with the Barossa, Riverland and McLaren Vale wine associations, the members voted to appoint an independent chair to help guide the organisation into the future. “We are the first wine association in Victoria, and the smallest membership based wine association in Australia to appoint an independent chair. I think this is a really important gesture from the Winemakers of Rutherglen about our belief in our future, in our region, and the value of strong strategic leadership,” said Natalie Ajay, Winemakers of Rutherglen executive officer.

Chris Gillard, formerly the general manager of Federation Shire, comes to the role with extensive experience in senior local government roles, hospitality and tourism. “I have always enjoyed our local wines and food, and the more I get involved, the more I learn about how lucky we are to have it right on our doorstep. I look forward to having an impact on the region’s tourism, government relations, and working with the board to create a sustainable future for the Winemakers of Rutherglen”, said Chris.

The Winemakers of Rutherglen runs local wine festivals including Tastes of Rutherglen and Winery Walkabout, both of which have been running for decades and attract more than 20,000 people to Rutherglen each year. The Winemakers of Rutherglen are also collaborating with Wine Victoria, Visit Victoria and the federal government to deliver a multi-million dollar wine tourism strategy over the coming twelve months, which will aim to increase visitation to regional wineries.