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Tuesday, 10 December 2013 14:46

Kym Ludvigsen - A Tribute

Last week, the Australian wine industry lost one of its strongest advocates, Kym Ludvigsen.

A grapegrower and vigneron from Victoria's Grampians region, Kym passed away on his farm, 3 December 2013.

Born 15 June 1952, Kym was well known for his moustache and larger than life personality, and his sphere of influence spread far and wide. He was an Executive Board member of Wine Grape Growers Australia, Chair of the Australian Vine Improvement Association and the Victorian and Murray Valley Vine Improvement Association. He was a representative on the Wine Victoria Regional Council, a long serving member of Grampians Winemakers, a founding member of the Ararat Wine Co-operative and was also on the Audit Committee of the Rural City of Ararat.

In partnership with his old friend and winemaker, Leigh Clarnette, Kym was engaged in developing his new wine brand Clarnette & Ludvigsen, as well as writing his monthly viticulture newsletter, both of which had been a source of great personal pride.

Kym was born in South Australia (SA) and educated at Unley High School in Adelaide. He was the school swimming champion, played centre half-back for the State High Schools Champion Australian Rules team, as well as representing SA in Rugby Union football. For those that knew Kym it is easy to imagine that his sporting prowess much like his debating technique would have been a vigorous, straight down the line approach!

Kym found his niche in viticulture and the wine industry. He began working as a vineyard hand in 1978 on the renowned Barry vineyard of Clare Valley, this lit the spark for a lifelong desire to learn and excel in viticulture. Ever the student, in 1980 he undertook the Graduate Diploma of Wine and Viticulture at Roseworthy Agricultural College and is remembered during this time by Richard Smart, a contemporary, as the "student who discovered everything".

Kym also completed a masters thesis in cover crop species for viticulture and was a champion and founding member for the Industry Development Order for Victoria which produced a range of research work in areas specific to the interests of grapegrowers in the Victorian regions.

During the 1980s Kym developed his career and reputation working in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales (NSW), Eden Valley, SA, and Adelaide Hills also in SA. It was during his time in the Hunter that Kym met and married his wife, Donna Pinkerton. Kym and Donna have two adult children, a son Sorren and daughter Annika.

In 1994, Kym took on the job of Victorian and Tasmanian Vineyards Manager, a role newly created by Southcorp Wines (now Treasury Wine Estates). This was a demanding job covering all of Victoria and Tasmania but also parts of NSW. He stayed in this role until 2001 after which Kym took on management roles with local companies while at the same time consulting and developing his own vineyard. In 2007 he launched his own label in partnership with Leigh Clarnette.

In 2010, Kym's contribution to the industry was recognised with the Distinguished Service Award presented to him by Wine Victoria. It was a proud moment for Kym and his family and a measure of the esteem and respect with which he is held by the grapegrowing and winemaking community of Australia.

For all this reading, industry work and thirst for knowledge, Kym was never described as dull! In equal measure Kym is well remembered for his outgoing and sometimes bombastic approach to life. His forthright but good-natured character, and his enjoyment of socialising with colleagues sometimes long into the night was legendary. He made firm friends in many places and you can be fairly certain that wherever you go in this industry most people have met and remember Kym Ludvigsen.