Award-winning Liz Riley – WINE Magazine
We’ve always known our very own viticulturist, Liz Riley to be something special, but there’s something rather thrilling about having her efforts recognised by the wider industry too. We’re delighted to share that WINE Magazine has named Liz their Viticulturist of the Year for 2022. As Daniel Honan, Editor, WINE Magazine says, “With women like Liz Riley at the forefront of viticulture in Australia, the future of our world-class vineyards is assured.” Who can argue with that?
Liz is a trailblazer in her field and has dedicated herself to viticulture for over 30 years. As well as overseeing the vineyards here at Scarborough, Liz has also lent her expertise to numerous wineries across the Hunter Valley and wider New South Wales region, via her business Vitibit. Her experience and pioneering innovations in the vineyard have been awarded numerous times, most notably in 2021 when Liz was presented with the prestigious 2020 Graham Gregory Award for her contribution to the NSW wine industry. She is the first woman to ever win the award. Liz was also acknowledged by Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism with the Award for Excellence following her response to the bushfire challenges of 2020. In 2017, Liz was named Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) Viticulturist of the Year. Quite some awards cabinet!
If you’re wondering what viticulture is, then read on to discover what Liz does in our Hunter Valley vineyards.
What is a viticulturist?
A viticulturist is a grower of grapes, which are produced to make wine. They focus entirely on the science, production, and study of grapes, dealing with the series of events that occur in the vineyard in the lead-up to winemaking. Once the grapes are picked, it’s over to the winemaker.
Liz studied Viticulture at Roseworthy Agricultural College and was attracted to the idea of being outside all day, as well as having the chance to travel. Day to day, she sees herself as a risk manager always calculating the best outcomes for the quality of the fruit. Climate plays a big part in the care of the vines - too much sun and you may get sunburnt fruit, too much rain and you could have mildew and disease to deal with.
As with all agriculture, the soil also has a vital role to play, and no-one likes talking dirt more than a viticulturist! Liz flies a flag for biodiversity in the vineyards and along with Jerome has implemented a number of successful sustainability practices across the vineyards to greatly improve the resilience of the fruit at Scarborough Wine Co. Liz thinks of her role as stewardship, taking care of the land and environment for generations to come.
The dream team
Did you know that Liz is married to second generation Winemaker, Jerome Scarborough? They met at Roseworthy Agricultural College and the rest as they say is history! Liz and Jerome make a great team, both with a great deal of knowledge and passion for viticulture and are often seen walking the vineyards together, especially as vintage nears. Whether discussing sunscreen for the grapes in the summer (yes really!) or the need to get the helicopters in during the floods, the inspiring pair are strong believers that all good wine starts in the vineyard. We’re incredibly grateful to have their expertise, which goes a long way to ensure the quality of the wine in your glass.
Want to know more about what we do in the vineyard? Learn all about it here: