Building resilience …. and making wine

09.10.20

To celebrate International Day of Rural Women, we are shining a light on some of the incredible women from regional, rural and remote parts of Australia who we get to work with at AgriFutures Australia. One of these incredible women is Anh Nguyen.

2019 Tasmanian AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award State Winner, Dr Anh Nguyen has been busy making new batches of wine while bunkered down in Tasmania during COVID-19. Unable to travel overseas due to the global restrictions, hasn’t stopped her from launching a new wine product in Vietnam and building an automatic frost control system, which is driven by artificial intelligence.

In September 2019, Anh Nguyen attended the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Awards Gala Dinner in Canberra representing Tasmania. Two weeks after, Anh set sail for Vietnam, launching her new wine product in opposite ends of the country, from Hanoi in northern Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City in the south.

Until COVID-19 struck, Anh was travelling and doing a lot of business development in Asia.

“I was travelling back and forth to Asia and everything was going well, then the pandemic hit and everything changed,” said the global wine entrepreneur.

“It’s been a challenging and unexpected time but all you can do is move on and focus on what you can do.”

Anh’s focus moved to experimental wine making in addition to her existing wine products at her own vineyard in Tasmania, Torch Bearer Wines.

“One of the great things this year has given me is more time and I’ve been able to take full advantage of this,” said Anh.

“I did some new batches using slow cold ferment of Sauvignon Blanc in wood barrels which has been ageing in old French oak barrels. This is very complex and exciting wine and there will be a limited release in November this year,” said Anh.

She’s also created a 100% natural field blend to make a rosé, with a floral complex which will also only be available in Australia.

“It’s been difficult for the wine industry because consumers are definitely more careful about their spending habits and this has had a domino effect on restaurants and tourism more broadly,” said Anh.

Anh’s career as an environmental engineer and scientist spans from developing novel water treatment technologies to waste and wastewater management.

A civil engineer by profession, Anh has a Master of Science in Engineering from University of Ottawa, Canada, and Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Engineering from University of Massachusetts Amherst USA. It is little wonder she’s leading the way in permaculture and biodynamic farming as a showcase for sustainable farming.

Her AgriFutures Australia project is called Vine-AI and it aims to build a smart farm monitoring and controlling system for optimised farm operation and crop protection.

“Our automated frost control system in our vineyard has been our big milestone this year and it’s quite amazing to let tech control and automate the most critical part of the system,” said Anh.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to sleep through the night during the frost season and let artificial intelligence take over, no error, no feeling interference, it’s all based on data and science.”

As part of her ongoing project work, Anh is refining her second sensor prototype for farm monitoring system, which is in the optimisation phase.

This year, the arrival of their vintage was celebrated with just a few friends coming over in what she says was a “low-key” event.

“We hope as things improve, we can get back to normal, but it’s certainly been an interesting year, one that has forced us to be more resilient than ever before,” she said.

Anh is inspired by nature meeting engineering and farming and that is why she describes her work as a nature-first business.

“Only nature can be this spectacular, only nature can challenge you this much and make your brain tick, and make you feel so alive,” she said.

International Day of Rural Women

We have launched a hashtag #hatsofftoruralwomen across our social media channels and encourage you to use this hashtag and share the stories of the rural, regional and remote women you work with and the reasons why they inspire you.

For more information about the United Nations’ International Day of Rural Women, please visit: https://www.un.org/en/observances/rural-women-day