Baroota vineyard offers new future to young interns

FUTURE: Emanuel Skorpos, left, Scott Thomas, Penny Lyon and new staff Mason Shannon, Joshua Hogan, Angus Foster-Fulton and Taylah Couzner.
FUTURE: Emanuel Skorpos, left, Scott Thomas, Penny Lyon and new staff Mason Shannon, Joshua Hogan, Angus Foster-Fulton and Taylah Couzner.

“You learn about all the hard work that goes into making one bottle of wine.”

With that comment, young vineyard hand Joshua Hogan and his three colleagues gave the thumbs-up to a brilliant training program at Flinders Run winery at Baroota.

The group has been offered jobs by winemaker Emanuel Skorpos after a 12-week PaTH Internship under the federal government’s Youth Jobs PaTH program through Sureway Employment and Training.

Mr Skorpos approached the local jobactive provider after being confronted with a “skills gap” that he was unable to overcome despite advertising for workers.

“I was looking before Christmas for skilled employees to work with the redevelopment of the vineyard, but I was unsuccessful,” he said. “We are in the throes of building the region’s first commercial winery at Baroota.

“We need a total of 10 part-time or casual employees for vineyard training. Eventually we will hire a full-time winemaker and cellarhand.”

He said the interns, who finish their training this week, would have bright futures at his winery or at vineyards in the Clare Valley or Barossa Valley. The redevelopment at Baroota will take four years and cost up to $1.4 million.

The company exports to China, Singapore, the United States, Canada and Japan.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to be involved in this program,” Mr Skorpos said. Penny Lyon, of Sureway Port Pirie, said the program had “bridged a gap among young people who did not have experience to gain jobs”.

“They received a top-up of their youth allowance for their participation in what was a really good option for Emanuel who was unable to find anyone who had the skills for the positions,” she said.

“We had some young people who wanted to learn the skills and offered them an internship.”

Mr Skorpos was thrilled to be able to offer the positions which involve posting, training vines, weeding and irrigation.

“By teaching these young people those skills, the dollars stay here in the region,” he said.

The success stories include Scott Thomas who started at the vineyard three years ago under a Sureway program and is now leading hand. Two of the new workers were jobless for up to a year before taking on the internship.

The keen group spoke while standing beside vines at the property. In the distance could be seen the site of the winery redevelopment – a good drop, indeed.

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