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*Budding Viticulturist Hannah McKay Awarded 2017 Sydney Royal Wine Scholarship

Posted on : 01 June 2017

1 June, 2017

A decision to trade a business career to follow her passion in the Australian wine industry has paid off for Hannah McKay of NSW, with her being awarded the prestigious 2017 Sydney Royal Wine Scholarship.

Ms McKay, a part-time Viticulture student studying by distance at Charles Sturt University from her base in Margaret River, Western Australia, will receive $3,500 towards her tertiary studies as well as the opportunity to steward at the 2017 KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show this coming July.

Sydney Royal Wine Committee Chair, Sally Evans, commended Ms McKay for her inspiring vision of how she plans to be involved in the future success of the Australian wine industry.

“It’s wonderful to be able to offer the opportunity of stewarding at the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine show to Ms McKay, who will benefit greatly from the learnings and networks she will receive access to. She not only impressed us with her passion for viticulture but also her desire to play a leading role in encouraging more young women into the wine industry,” Ms Evans said.

Employed by iconic winery Vasse Felix, 28 year old Ms McKay has a passion for plants and wine and is focussed on finding ways to combine traditional farming practices, land management techniques and native species in a vineyard setting.

“I’m thrilled to be selected for this amazing scholarship and excited about the opportunities it will bring as I work towards my goal of being a leading female viticulturist. The scholarship has encouraged me to further develop my learning in the field and classroom to reveal more sustainable ways of growing wine grapes in Australia,” said Ms McKay.

“My wine journey began when I left an office career and started working in vineyards near my family home in the Southern Highlands wine region. I instantly fell in love with the industry and each day I look forward to what I’m going to learn and then implement in the vineyard.”

“I am excited to connect with other like-minded people across Australia at the upcoming wine show and will use this scholarship to strengthen the precision and quality of Australian viticulture and wine,” she said.

The judging panel was so impressed with the high quality of applications that for the first time in history, a runner up scholarship was awarded.

The 2017 runner-up honour has gone to Nicholas Conolly, a Bachelor of Wine Science student at Charles Sturt University. Originally studying local government in Sydney, Mr Conolly’s passion for the wine industry was sparked while on work experience at a winery in Orange.

Mr Conolly has since relocated to South Australia where he works for Kirrihill Wines in the Clare Valley.

The Sydney Royal Wine Scholarship honours the memory and contribution of Graham Thorp, Chair of the Sydney Royal Wine Committee from 1984 – 1990.

RAS Foundation Executive Officer, Kate Ross, said the scholarship offers a welcome financial boost to our next generation of wine industry leaders as they strive to excel in their chosen careers.

“The fact that our two 2017 scholarship recipients have chosen to relocate far from home and undertake distance studies while working in the wine industry shows a real commitment,” Ms Ross said.

In 2018 the scholarship will increase to $6,000 for full time study or $3,000 towards part time study.

Applications for the 2018 award open on 1 August 2017 and can be completed online through the RASF website


For further information, including high resolution images, please contact:

Roger White – Manager, Public Relations

M: 0478 092 425 | P: (02) 9704 1453 | E:

About the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) Foundation:

The RAS Foundation is a charitable foundation that encourages educational opportunities and helps build strong and sustainable rural and regional communities through a range of targeted grants and scholarships.

Visit for more information on the RAS Foundation.


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