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Guy’s wine marketing research takes him to France

Guy’s research takes him to France

8 February 2018

Guy Leedon will be the envy of his PhD colleagues and supervisors in May, when he heads off to France to further his research into wine marketing and the sustainability practices of the wine industry.

His research specifically looks at the concept of ‘terroir’ – the idea that environmental factors like climate and soil, combined with the values and farming practices of the local community, determine the taste of a wine.

He’ll investigate whether terroir is just a marketing tool, or whether it has an impact on the way wine is produced.

“In wine and a few other specialty food products, there’s this idea that the different places products come from give them a particular taste. So champagne from France tastes a particular way because of the soil and the climate, as well as the winemaking tradition there. That’s why it tastes different to sparkling from down in the Yarra Valley,” says Guy.

“My hypothesis is that if you’re a food or wine producer and you really believe in this idea of terroir then you should be more inclined to either take care of your local environment, if that contributes to the uniqueness or the quality of your product, or protect the social traditions, the artisanal style of production that’s local to your area.

“What I’m planning to look at is, does that actually happen? Does this idea of having an important connection to their local area make them invest in sustainability or make them more involved in their community, preserving traditions and those kind of things?

“Or is it really just a great tool for marketing, or just an interesting philosophical concept that doesn’t actually have too much day-to-day impact on business decisions?”

He has been awarded a 2018 Endeavour Postgraduate Scholarship, funded by the Australian Government, which will enable him to undertake about eight months of research in France.

Guy says he was very excited when he heard late last year that he’d won an Endeavour Scholarship, and is looking forward to the opportunity to see France and learn more about the wine industry in France.

“It’s a really critical part of my study to be able to interview some producers in Burgundy, because it’s one of the originators of that idea of connection to land and taste in the wine industry. I think they’ll have some extreme views on it. The French get very passionate about this idea!”

He’s also received grants from Wine Australia and the International Organisation of Vine and Wine, which will further support his international research.

Winning Government and Industry grants for his research is a long way from where he imagined his career would take him.

“I didn’t finish high school - I dropped out in Year 11. Yet here I am doing a PhD, with a couple of great scholarships!

“I want to try and encourage people who may not think uni is for them that study is always something you can come back to later if you want to.”

Associate Professor Vinh Lu, who is the Chair of Guy’s PhD panel, along with Dr Gary Buttriss and Dr Patrick L’Espoir Decosta, said Guy is a deserving recipient of the Endeavour Scholarship.

“Guy Leedon’s research will yield new and original knowledge that will be beneficial to the international and Australian wine industries.

“We are extremely proud of Guy’s work so far – he is very smart, dedicated and curious, and we wish him all the best of luck for his research project and his travels to France and beyond.”

If you’d like to contact Guy or learn more about his research, you can follow him on Twitter @guyleedon or see his CBE profile page.

Updated:   8 February 2018 / Responsible Officer:  Dean, Business & Economics / Page Contact:  College Web Team