NEXT GENERATION: Scott McWilliam, Georgia Hill Smith and Chris Tyrrell at the Reserve Wine Bar. Picture: Simone De Peak. WHAT do the youngest generation of winemaking families drink at a weekend get together?
De Bortoli sparkling for breakfast, a sampling of 17 vintages of Tyrrell’s Vat 47 Chardonnay for lunch and wine-guessing drinking games at McWilliam’s when the Hunter is hosting.
The youngest 26 members of Australia’s First Families of Wine, a group of 12 who allied in 2010 to differentiate family-run wine businesses, have gathered in the Hunter as part of a tour of each other’s regions.
The Next Generation of Australian Wine, who are aged between 19 and 37 and connected with their family businesses, are passionate about changing perceptions that Australian wines are ‘‘cheap and cheerful’’ and all taste the same.
‘‘The real heart of Australian wine and the people who have been at the cutting edge of innovation, wine styles and viticulture have generally been from family wine groups,’’ said Chris Tyrrell, a fifth-generation winemaker with Tyrrell’s Wines.
But far from being just a marketing tool, the annual get-together has delivered unexpected rewards.
‘‘The best thing about it was that these people were just like me,’’ Scott McWilliam said.
The sixth-generation McWilliam’s winemaker said the first time the group got together he felt as if he had known them all his life.
‘‘They had experienced the same pressures of being a family member, within a family business that not many people can relate to,’’ he said.
Mr Tyrrell said at first he didn’t realise the benefit connecting with his contemporaries would bring.
‘‘It’s great to have someone to call in the Clare Valley, whether it’s to ask what type of barrels they’re using, or have a whinge about your father.’’
The youngest person on the tour, Georgia Hill Smith, 19, said she felt an ‘‘escalating sense of excitement and pride’’ when the group met.
CULTURAL EXCHANGE: Visiting Indian students join in the celebratory Aboriginal dance at Hunter TAFE.
HUNTER TAFE welcomed a group of 27 Indian students last week with a celebratory Aboriginal dance.
Although the new students eagerly joined in, they were not here for lessons but to further their studies in automotive and metal fabrication.
The group is the first to arrive after a memorandum between the TAFE and an Indian educational facilitator.
It is one of the first of its kind in Australia and shows the Hunter is world class when it comes to teaching skills in these areas, says Hunter TAFE.
Hunter TAFE will provide skill gap training, assessment and recognition of prior learning over the next 18 months while the Indian students also work in the mechanical and welding industries in Sydney.
THE last week saw Lake Macquarie Council declare war on Newcastle with council-backed economic development challenger Dantia positioning to compete for redevelopment dollars. Now Maitland is hot in pursuit with its first private business incubator opening this month.
The revitalisation initiative, L’Atelier Maitland, has opened its doors in Maitland’s redeveloping Heritage Mall.
It offers co-working space for small businesses and entrepreneurs, and provides support for anyone with a new business idea.
The business incubator is the project of former Maitland City Council economic development officer Pierre Malou, who is returning to the private sector.
DURING his HSC, Bryce Gibson made news headlines when he sold more than $2million worth of property as a 17-year-old trainee.
Now having made a name for himself in the real estate game, Mr Gibson and his wife, Mellissa, have been recognised internationally within the LJHooker family.
Their LJHooker Cessnock and Kurri Kurri office came in ahead of 735 LJHooker local and international offices, including Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, to win awards for innovation and international community relationships.
The office has been using Facebook and other social media sites to engage with communities.
Mr Gibson said he was convinced Facebook was just a ‘‘place where trolls lived’’ until he had an epiphany at a conference.
‘‘I thought I could do that so much better,’’ Mr Gibson says.
He used the site to talk about the community, not the business.
He credits his and his wife’s give-back-to-the-community philosophy for winning both awards.
The Cessnock office had raised $28,000 for charities in the last year and donated up to 500 hours in aid of community initiatives, he says.
The social media strategy has also paid off. In the last year Mr Gibson says he sold four houses through Facebook posts.