ASVO Viticulturist of the Year 2020 Dr Mark Krstic has always been fascinated with how innovation in viticulture can influence what we taste in the glass.
‘Whether it be irrigation, bunch exposure management, soils, rootstock or smoke taint, we can see it in the glass,’ he said. That has always intrigued me, and I suspect it always will.’
Mark – who was recently appointed the Managing Director of the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) – has spent his entire career seeking answers to the challenges facing grapegrowers and producers, but says he has a long way to go.
‘I feel bad that we haven’t always found the solutions, but that is what drives my research.’
Dr Krstic’s career with grapes has spanned table grapes, dried fruit and wine grapes.
2020 ASVO Viticulturist of the Year Dr Mark Krstic
After graduating with undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in Agricultural Science from the University of Tasmania and an MBA from Mt Eliza/Queensland University, Dr Krstic began working in viticulture research and development at CSIRO’s Merbein site, focusing on grapevine physiology, crop development and yield estimation.
Since then he has worked in key viticulture roles at the Victorian Government’s Department of Primary Industries, the former Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (now Wine Australia) and the AWRI, leading a range of R&D initiatives.
Dr Krstic currently chairs the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference Inc., is a past President of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) and is a graduate of the Future Leaders program.
He has also been at the forefront of smoke taint research, development and extension since 2006 and has authored a number of research reports, scientific reviews and fact sheets on the topic.
Dr Krstic says his experience in table grapes and dried fruit has given him solid grounding of the issues facing the wine sector.
‘With table grapes you focus on how different agronomic treatments and new varieties will affect the size, look, plumpness and flavour of the grape you eat fresh, while with wine grapes you’re focusing on what ends up in the glass.’
‘The philosophy behind producing table grapes and wine grapes may be entirely different, but the basic understanding and mechanics of the grapevine are similar.’
Dr Krstic said the biggest challenges for the wine sector in the future will be climate change and water availability, resulting in the need to explore new wine regions and alternative grape varieties and production practices.
So what will the vineyard of the future look like?
‘I think vineyards will look one of two ways: on the one hand we will see super high-tech vineyards where robotic equipment runs down the rows to identify pests, disease and water issues; and on the other hand we will see vineyards with very old vines that are well tended using a lot of traditional manual input, producing wines of distinction with a very interesting story that appeals to consumers.’
Dr Krstic said he was ‘honoured’ to be nominated by his peers as an ASVO viticulturist of the year finalist.
‘It is very satisfying to have your skill set in viticulture acknowledged by your peers.’