THE former general manager of Federation Shire, Chris Gillard, has been appointed as the first independent chairman of the Winemakers of Rutherglen.
The Winemakers of Rutherglen executive officer Natalie Ajay said the members, which represented 19 wineries, voted to appoint an independent chairperson after researching overseas and nationally, including talks with the Barossa, Riverland and McLaren Vale wine associations.
“We are the first wine association in Victoria, and the smallest membership-based wine association in Australia to appoint an independent chair,” she said.
“As we become a more strategic and influential organisation, finding strong and independent leadership has become a priority for our members.”
With experience in the local government, hospitality and tourism sectors, Mr Gillard said expanding winery tourism was a key priority for the Winemakers of Rutherglen.
“The winegrowers are looking at maximising tourism,” he said.
“We’re working with the Indigo Shire and the community of Rutherglen to do that; we’re one of the important stakeholders along with the community in that process.”
The Winemakers of Rutherglen are working with Wine Victoria, Visit Victoria and the federal government to deliver a multi-million dollar wine tourism strategy over 12 months.
Mr Gillard said the Victorian Wine Industry Development Strategy focused on five pillars, which included Rutherglen Fortified Resurgence.
He said five regions were preparing strategies to attract international tourists to premium wine and food experiences.
“We’re anticipating that once the strategy is complete, there will be ongoing funding,” he said.
Mr Gillard said the best was yet to come for the Winemakers of Rutherglen.
“The future is looking bright for the Winemakers of Rutherglen, and I’m keen to leverage my skills and experience to help this organisation reach its full potential.”