Wynns viticulturist honoured at Women in Wine and Spirits Awards.

Image Coonawarra Vignerons

Wynns Coonawarra Estate viticulturist Cath Kidman has been crowned Viticulturist of the Year at the recent 2021 Women in Wine and Spirits Awards (WINWSA).

Kidman was among 50 finalists to win one of the 18 award categories and stood shoulder to shoulder with recipients spanning 12 countries and regions around the globe.

Speaking with the Naracoorte Community News, Kidman described the win as a “massive shock and surprise”.

“It’s very humbling to be in the presence of international women doing great things in all facets of wine,” Kidman said.

The WINWSA honours women in the drinks industry across the globe andm in a statement on this years finalists and winners, congratulated their dedication to industry.

“The judges were particularly impressed at the quality of the entries, echoing the fast-paced evolution in the wine & spirits business,” the statement said.

“WINWSA 2021 continues to celebrate the theme Sustainability, raising questions regarding how the conduct of business can benefit our surroundings, socially and environmentally.

“We are glad to witness increasing share of green-minded companies or projects in our entries, reflecting the collective efforts towards sustainable practices.”

In her work at Wynns, Kidman lead a number of cutting-edge trials in partnership with the CSIRO and students from the University of Adelaide.

She said she was currently testing different techniques to help make vineyards healthier and more resilient to climate change, as well as running a long-term trial on a 1984 heritage selection of vines at Wynns – known as the Johnson’s Block – to test the extent of vines’ drought resilience.

This crop was dry grown and had endured more than 60 years of Coonawarra climate without irrigation.

In the summer of 2016, the hottest on record for Coonawarra, Kidman noticed the vines were doing remarkably well.

“The unirrigated vines were actually outperforming others,” Ms Kidman said to the Naracoorte News.

“They looked really happy, had lovely growth and canopy, good yield as well, and the fruit quality was still outstanding.”

After a series of physiological tests, the Johnson’s Block vines proved to have better drought resilience than other vines.

“It sort of got us thinking about whether this memory they’ve built up over the decades can be inherited or passed onto the next generation,” Kidman said.

Kidman took cuttings from the Johnson’s Block vines and propagated them out into a new vineyard back in 2018 with some young vines receiving full irrigation, others about 50 per cent, and a small portion receiving none.

Kidman said the trial will continue over the next few years.

“We’re hypothesising that these vines are actually adapting to the environments they live in out in the vineyards,” she said.

Growing up in Victoria’s Yarra Valley wine region, Kidman developed an affinity for viticulture at a young age.

“I love being outside so for me the natural step was to go into the vineyards rather than into winemaking,” she said

“I get to have this marriage of two worlds – the science aspect and also being able to have the artistic play out in the vineyards trialling new techniques and being creative.”

The Women in Wine and Spirits awards were first initiated to recognise aspiring and accomplished women in the global beverage industry and have been running since 2020.

Ms Kidman was also named the 2020 Gourmet Traveller WINE Viticulturist of the Year and 2020 Viticulturist of the Year at the Australian Women in Wine Awards.


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