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South Australian viticulturist takes out prestigious emerging agri leader award

Viticulturist Zachary Caudo, from South Australia's Riverland, has taken out the 2015 Rabobank Emerging Leader Award. 

Mr Caudo, brand and vineyard development director of the family business Caudo Vineyards, was presented with the prestigious award – which recognises exceptional up-and-coming leadership in Australia and New Zealand’s food and agribusiness industries – in front of more than 230 agribusiness professionals at the annual Rabobank Leadership Dinner in Melbourne.  

Presenting Mr Caudo’s award, Rabobank Australia and New Zealand Group managing director Thos Gieskes said Zachary Caudo had not only been instrumental in the transformation of his family business, but had helped cement South Australia's Riverland region as a premier tourism destination. 

“Since returning to the family business five years ago, Zac has taken the operation from a bulk supplier of wine grapes to producer of its own Caudo brand of award-winning wines,” he said.

Mr Gieskes said, through Mr Caudo’s leadership, in addition to positioning the Caudo brand in the marketplace, Caudo Vineyards had become a tourism destination for thousands of visitors.

“As a passionate advocate for the Riverland, Zac has hosted groups of international visitors to showcase all that the region has to offer,” Mr Gieskes said, “as well as introducing two large-scale tourism events to the Riverland – with the military-inspired obstacle course ‘True Grit’ bringing 9000 visitors to the region alone.

“The leadership that Zac has shown at just 29 years of age is extraordinary, and it will be exciting to watch him continue to develop his leadership skills as he positively influences not only his community and the wine industry, but the wider agricultural sector.”

The third recipient to receive the annual Rabobank Emerging Leader Award, Mr Caudo said he was “humbled” by the accolade. He attributed his success to his parents, the founders of the vineyard, who are “a huge inspiration” to him, and to “having the flexibility to evolve and to continually learn and find new ways of doing things”.

It is this influence that has seen Mr Caudo develop the business’s cellar door, which has not only given Caudo Vineyards a platform to showcase its own wine, but has also seen it become a thriving tourism business.

“Set on the banks of the mighty Murray River, we have scores of visitors coming to our cellar door via boat,” Mr Caudo said. “And as we are the only winery in the region that has access for boats, we have become a real destination for visitors to the Riverland.”

Built out of re-used rivergum sleepers, Mr Caudo said, the cellar door venue reflected the business’s commitment to the environment.

“In all that we do, we ensure we minimise the impact on the environment and this has led us to develop state-of-the-art water management systems to maximise efficiency and minimise wastage, and we also have a very strong charter to support the abundant ecological wildlife both on land and in the river system,” he said.

Caudo Vineyards – which boasts 360 acres of vines and a further 70 acres of citrus – largely produces chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, but in recent years has shifted towards tempranillo, sangiovese and verdelho with the Caudo range receiving significant national and international recognition. 

“We have also developed some unique products, such as the Caudo sangria range, with ‘Sangria the White’ now sold in over 100 bottle stores across the country and more recently exported to China,” Mr Caudo said.

Mr Caudo attributes much of the business’s marketing success to engaging with key target market via social media, sharing content on Twitter and Facebook.

“We haven’t spent a lot of money on advertising, but we get traction by being savvy on social media and being advocates of the Riverland, which includes a regular blog on all that is happening in the region to not only encourage people to visit our cellar door but the wider region,” he said.

Mr Caudo’s active involvement in the region saw him being named the South Australian Young Citizen of the Year in 2013/2014 and more recently Caudo Vineyards took out the best small business award in the region. To view Mr Caudo’s Emerging Leader winner video please click here.

Since the inception of Rabobank’s Emerging Leader Award in 2013, it has been awarded to Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology CEO, Georgie Aley and Darling Downs beef producer and director of the Australian Lot Feeders Association, Bryce Camm.

The Rabobank Leadership Dinner was held at The Peak at Flemington Racecourse. New Zealand dairy identity Sir Henry van der Heyden received the flagship Rabobank Leadership Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to both the dairy industry and the food and agribusiness sector. Keynote speaker was Randall Pope, president and chief executive officer of Westchester Group Investment Management.

For coverage of the Rabobank Leadership Dinner and Leadership Breakfast follow Rabobank on Twitter @RabobankAU and @RabobankNZ or view curated Leadership Awards content via the hashtag #RaboLeadership.  For further information on the Rabobank Leadership Awards please visit the website.

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is a part of the international Rabobank Group, the world’s leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 115 years’ experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 40 countries, servicing the needs of approximately 8.8 million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1000 offices and branches. Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is one of Australasia’s leading rural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the region’s food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 94 branches throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Media contacts:

Denise Shaw 

Head of Media Relations 

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 

Phone: 02 8115 2744 or 0439 603 525 


Skye Ward

Media Relations Manager

Rabobank Australia & New Zealand 

Phone: 0418 216 103