New chair for grape and wine research

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 20th April 2010

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke has appointed Mr Rory McEwen as the new chair to the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC) board.

The appointment comes at a critical time for the Australian wine industry, which is attempting to restructure in the face of an oversupply of grapes and a drop in overseas demand for Australian wines.

The GWRDC is an Australian Government statutory body that invests government and industry levy funds in research and development on behalf of the Australian wine industry.

“Mr McEwen has an excellent understanding of the needs of the wine industry and the importance of whole-of-chain research and development,” Mr Burke said.

“I know that the GWRDC under the leadership of Mr McEwen will continue to develop practical responses to the challenges facing the wine sector.

“The wine industry plays an important role in supporting around 28,000 jobs across Australia and was worth $4.8 billion in 2007-08.”

Mr McEwen is the former South Australian Minister for Agriculture and has recently concluded his term as an Independent MP in the South Australian Parliament. Mr McEwen was also previously State Minister for Regional Development, and Minister for Forests and previously established a horticultural enterprise.

Mr McEwen said he is looking forward to shaping research and development to help the wine industry meet the challenges of the future.

“The challenges for the wine industry are to create value rather than generate volume,” Mr McEwen said.

“The challenge for researchers is to focus more on the needs of the total wine business rather than just the production side.

“Furthermore, research must be relevant and accessible to industry in a form that can be immediately translated into action.”

Mr Burke thanked the outgoing chairman, Mr Dennis Mutton for his leadership of the corporation since January 2004.
“I thank Mr Mutton for his excellent leadership of the GWRDC at a time when industry was seeking to respond to challenges presented by the global economic downturn and the oversupply of wine in Australia,” Mr Burke said.