Mary Retallack, a wine grape scientist from Adelaide Hills, was declared on Tuesday the top winner of the 2012 Australian Rural Women's Award. She was recognised for her efforts to help improve the potential of women in the wine industry and rural sector.
Research shows that it is not what you drink, but the lifestyle that the drinkers have that affects their health.
In particular, the awards committee cited her development of the Women in Wine Web site which serves as central meeting venue and information hub for rural women to collaborate, share their ideas, mentor and support each other. Margo Andrae, national award coordinator, explained that the criteria in selecting the winner are for women who initiated new and innovative ways to build human capacity in the primary industries.
"Women don't tend to stay in the wine industry, we understand there is a divide and we see this project as a way of providing support and encouraging people to remain," The Herald Sun quoted Ms Andrae.
Craig Burns, managing director of the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation, said that Ms Retallack has made outstanding contributions to the country's viticulture industry by working in vineyard management, technical, research, consultancy, training and extension roles in Australia and overseas.
Ms Retallack, 38, was raised on a sultana grape and orange farm near Renmark in South Australia'a Riverland. After she left school, she taught horticulture and viticulture to TAFE students in Adelaide, while she studied all aspects of wine growing, farming and winery management.
"It's still quite a blokey industry - a lot of men in suits - so I want to spread the word to younger women that the industry is changing, and to make it easier for those that came after me to know where to go for mentors, to find networks and to share information," The Australian quoted Ms Retallack.
She received a $10,000 cash prize which she will use partly to establish a new Women in Wine Web site and network.
Her runner up is Catherine Marriott of Kununurra in East Kimberley, who was recognised for her work in developing communication skills of north Australian pastoralists.
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