Media Release – NSW Wine
In November 2021, Alex Cassegrain from Cassegrain Wines in the Hastings River wine region in NSW, was named the 2021 Winemaker of the Year at the ASVO (Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology) Awards for Excellence.
The ASVO Awards for Excellence recognises the most dedicated and professional individuals in the Australian wine industry, that show exceptional leadership, ability and vision. The NSW Wine Industry Association (NSW Wine) would like to acknowledge and congratulate Alex Cassegrain on this prestigious award and recognition for his outstanding work and leadership during the 2020 season when bushfires and smoke threatened the livelihoods of many growers across NSW.
The ASVO selected Alex Cassegrain as a finalist in the winemaker of the year category, and ultimate winner, due to his wide-ranging positive contributions to the Australian wine industry and also his innovative work on the effects of smoke taint on grapes. Alex has and is, extensively trialling techniques and procedures to find the best possible solutions for the effects of smoke taint in wine grapes. The 2020 bush fires had a devastating impact on a significant portion of grape growing regions in NSW, which motivated Alex to work in unison with growers, suppliers, research companies and agencies to further the industries understanding of smoke taint, and how it can best be treated during and after ferment, to either mitigate or reduce its effects on wine.
Alex Cassegrain said, “To be nominated and named the ASVO’s Winemaker of the Year is such a great honour. I strongly believe that this award is one for everyone involved in our work, in particular the growers who went through such an ordeal during the bushfires. The idea of leaving grapes on the vine due to something quite unknown like smoke wasn’t a solution and that’s where we decided to try everything to see if we could turn a negative into a positive, and in some cases we did.”
“Receiving this award gives me the confidence to always push the boundaries and to continue to be innovative. A big thankyou to the ASVO committee for everything they do for the industry. I feel like this marks the beginning of a brighter future going forward.”
NSW Wine President Mark Bourne said, “This Award is very well-deserved recognition of Alex’s contribution and commitment to our industry and we extend him our ardent congratulations. To be named a finalist in the ASVO Awards is something to be very proud of, and this year we were delighted that two out of the six finalists were from the first state of wine, NSW. Our sincere congratulations also go out to Darren Fahey, from NSW Department of Primary Industries, who was a finalist for the 2021 ASVO Viticulturist of the Year Award.”
Mark added “These awards highlight how the NSW wine industry and the new generation of winemakers and growers are collaborating and embracing innovative practices, that will help lead the Australian wine industry into the future.”
Additionally, Cassegrain Wines has recently secured a grant from the Cooperative Research Centres Projects, together with industry partners in Australia and NZ, for longer term projects using innovative methods. Alex hopes this will add much to the future understanding of the impact of fires in all viticultural regions, saying “I’m confident that further development of some of the techniques we’ve trialled will lead to worldwide availability of these techniques. Turning disaster into a potential internationally recognised innovation.”