I was the privileged winner of the IMW Yalumba Scholarship 2009/2010!
Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family-owned winery and a supporter of the Institute Masters of Wine. The Yalumba Scholarship is awarded annually to one Europe or Americas-based, second-year MW student enrolled on the full education programme. This generous scholarship consists of:
  • * a return flight ticket on economy class to the MW seminar in Adelaide from a major city near the winner’s hometown;
  • * accommodation for the duration of the MW seminar in Adelaide; and
  • * a one-week visit to the Yalumba vineyard, nursery and winery in Angaston

Selection for the scholarship was in the form of an essay (1000 words in length, written in English). The essay topic was:

“There is no fundamental or systemic problem with the Australian wine sector; it is going through a cycle where after many years of popularity, other regions, countries or styles are garnering more interest from the gatekeepers”.

Discuss the validity of this statement and suggest ways to overcome the current problems facing the Australian Wine Industry in re-building the awareness of its regional and varietal diversity.

Fifth generation Yalumba Proprietor, Robert Hill Smith said, “On the ground experience is a crucial part of education for all wine enthusiasts. The winner will have the rare opportunity to work alongside our experienced viti and vini teams and have our wider resources at their disposal for the duration of their visit to the Barossa Valley. We look forward to receiving responses and anticipate that these will be both insightful and interesting – we are very pleased to offer this scholarship once again.”

About Yalumba:

Yalumba of today continues to remain fiercely independent and extremely progressive under the ownership of fifth generation Robert and Sam Hill Smith, sons of Wyndham and Helen Hill Smith and for almost 160 years, Yalumba has played a pivotal role in the Barossa, making wines that reflect the best of region.

Yalumba was founded by Dorset brewer Samuel Smith in 1849, who brought his family to Angaston seeking a new life. After purchasing a 30-acre parcel of land just beyond the village of Angaston, Smith and his son Sidney began planting the first vines by moonlight. Samuel named his patch “Yalumba” – Aboriginal for “all the land around.

It is not just Yalumba’s work with the Viognier grape variety that warrants its reputation as a pioneering company. Yalumba is the sole company in Australia to craft its own oak barrels. In addition to the cooperage, Yalumba counts a wine nursery among its prized assets, which enables the winemakers to have a significant input into grape quality from an early stage. Today, this viticultural nursery specialises at the high end of vine breeding, and has winery and winegrower clients across all states.

Yalumba has also been influential in its strong policies on recycling, making sure that every effort is made to certify that waste and water are recycled, as well as ensuring energy is saved and the general environmental impact of the winery is minimised.

As a result, Yalumba is the first winery in the world to receive the Climate Protection Award from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2007.

The Yalumba Scholarship Winner gains incredible insight and experience.

As the Yalumba Scholarship winner, I was taken into the Yalumba “family”. Yes, Yalumba is a big winery, but it is a family owned and operated winery.  Yalumba is the owner of Negotiants, which in turn owns several other wineries. The Hill-Smith family places a lot of trust in their employees with key people being their own boss of an entire winery or department with direct contact to Robert Hill Smith. Kirsty Gosse acted as my personal host and assistant during my stay. She and everyone else made me feel very welcome and because all doors were open, I even got to see how problems were addressed and solved. Just a few of the highlights included:

  •  ‘White Wine Master Class’. Together with the entire staff of winemakers, I tasted through all 45 white and rosé wines. Each wine was accompanied by a complete spec sheet with all winemaking steps from picking criteria to packaging. Challenges and future prospects for each wine were discussed from production to packaging to its general concept and style.
  • Nursury visit with Nick Dry and Tim Jones for  a tour and Syrah clonal tasting
  • Tour of the Yalumba Single Site vineyards with Robin Nettlebeck
  • Tour of the Heggies and Pewsey Vale Vineyards with Heggies winemaker Peter Gambetta followed by a gorgeous outdoor tasting
  • Tour of the Yalumba  Cooperage, winery & Museum  with Peter Gambetta
  • Tasting with  Natalie Fryar, winemaker at  Jansz. Great insights to sparkling winemaking as well as Pinot Noir
  • Environmental discussion with Cecil Camilleri & Andrew Murphy. This was very informative. We took a look at the Life Cycle Analysis of the entire Yalumba operations and what Yalumba was doing to be carbon negative and give back to the environment
  • Rare & Fine tasting with Kevin Glastonbury looking at Yalumba’s commitment to the Cabernet Shiraz blend
  • Research and Development discussion with Ian Codrington at the Angaston Lab.
  • Marketing discussion of Negotiants International with Scott Washington
  • Tour and tasting at Henschke Wines – tasting Hill of Grace in the Hill of Grace!
  • Discussion about emarketing with Tony Bogar
  • Discussion of the history and tradition of Yalumba with Brian Walsh
  • Trip out to visit Oxford Landing Estate Winery with Jane Ferrari and discussions with winemaker Matt Pick and vineyard manager Robert Strachan.
  • Viognier Breakfast and tasting with Louisa Rose at Percy’s
  • Chardonnay blending and tasting with Teresa Heuzzenroeder and Louisa Rose

It was an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience and I am incredibly grateful to the Hill-Smith family and the entire family of Yalumba employees for their incredible hospitality and generous sharing of their knowledge and experience.

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