Miranda sisters produce an ideal winery blend

An ideal blend of skills has placed three sisters at the helm of Lou Miranda Estate in the Barossa. Since 2005, Lisa and Victoria Miranda have steered business at the winery that carries their father’s name, but the recent arrival of their sibling Angela as winemaker, bringing more than a decade of international experience, makes the family business complete after a careful 14-year progression.

Angela, who was previously Pernod Ricard’s UK packaging operations manager, US packaging operations manager and technical operations manager in the Barossa, came back to her family’s winery at Rowland Flat in mid-February – after vintage had already started – and acted fast to ensure the family’s progression as a boutique wine brand continues.

“We’d always intended for Angela to join us, but she was reluctant to leave her previous position which saw her travelling most of the year to emerging wineries in China, India and New Zealand,” says Victoria. “Once she came back to work in the Barossa, the decision to join us just seemed like a natural fit.”

The Miranda sisters, Lisa, left, Miranda and Angela of Lou Miranda Estate in the Barossa Valley.

It’s the latest step in a long journey for Lou Miranda’s family, which moved to the Barossa from Griffith in 1991 so that the former Miranda wine brand (which was then among Australia’s larger family-owned wine companies) could access more high-quality fruit.

The big old winery building, erected in 1919, became a weekend playground for the young Miranda girls while their father and mother worked, and later became their own workplace, after they turned 18, as they each took turns serving at the cellar door.

It provided them with a useful skill set when big change came after McGuigan Wines bought the Miranda label in 2003, splitting the broader Miranda family’s wine connections.

For a while, Lou’s family continued to sell Miranda wines from the cellar door, but in 2005, they transformed the Barossa property into a separate identity as Lou Miranda Estate – and Lou’s daughters stepped to the forefront of the business, with Lisa drawing on her sales background and Victoria bringing graphic design skills.

“Dad wasn’t ready to retire, and he had no problem at all with his girls taking the reins,” says Lisa. “We had always been involved in everything along the way. We never thought of ourselves as girls facing any obstacles. We were simply this family’s next generation, moving the business forward.”

Lou Miranda handed the reigns of the boutique winery to his three daughters Lisa, Victoria and Angela.

It was daunting to start again – “We had zero customers, and now we are selling 25,000 cases per year” – but the daughters say they had Lou’s complete confidence to build the business on the back of his experience and their fresh ideas.

Their foundation was the winery at Rowland Flat – previously the Liebich family’s Rovalley winery, which had passed through several sets of hands, but still had the same infrastructure and – more importantly – large reserves of the fortified wines that Rovalley was famous for, stored in the original 7000-litre oak vats that the Liebichs had constructed in 1919.

Angela has revived her fortified winemaking skills, learned through such luminaries as David Morris (Morris of Rutherglen) and Philip Laffer (chief winemaker at Jacob’s Creek), because fortified wines still hold strong appeal for cellar door customers, and was the focus of fortified masterclasses held in the winery during the recent Barossa Vintage Festival.

Many more treasures have greeted Angela in the winery – including fruit from serious 90-plus-year-old shiraz vines (the best being reserved for the $150 Master Piero shiraz, named after Victoria’s first son), and recent plantings of pinot grigio and sagrantino grapes. “Lou was interested in adding Italian varieties but didn’t want to do the same as everyone else,” explains Lisa.

It’s a surprise for these wines to appear in the Barossa, especially a bright, crunchy pinot grigio built in the authentic Italian style around a firm acidic spine. Even more impressive is sagrantino made light and spicy with bright blueberry and liquorice flavours, rather than being heavy and overly tannic as many of these wines from Umbria in Italy are made.

Equally impressive is old vine grenache made in a lively style with juicy raspberry held in check by firm tannins; and a rich blend of old vine shiraz and mourvédre from the 110-year-old Angels vineyard at Lyndoch.

Many wine drinkers remain unaware of these changes, as the family’s popular Leone brand has primarily been noted for its value wines, and the elite Lou Miranda Estate wines are largely a mystery.

The challenge now is for the three sisters to promote these new wines through marketing initiatives that include in-home tasting parties, where a staff wine consultant presents the Lou Miranda Estate and Leone wine ranges for groups of up to eight guests in their homes.

“We have a lot to do,” says Angela, who adds that the full extent of the Miranda sisters’ work won’t be immediately evident, because the cruel 2019 vintage has produced scant volumes of fruit – including a paltry 300 litres (one barrel) of old vine shiraz. “Our best,” adds Angela with a grin, “is yet to come.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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From farm to fork: Kalettes, brussels sprouts a winter success

A third-generation vegetable producer’s decision to plant 80 mystery seeds in 2012 turned into a promising venture for the Adelaide Hills family farm which has become Australia’s only grower of Kalettes.

Seven years on, and despite an exceptionally dry start to the year, Scott Samwell of Eastbrook Farms in Mt Barker says he is expecting another successful crop as the trendy vegetable comes into season this winter.

Kalettes, which are a winter vegetable hybrid of red kale and brussels sprouts, are a creation from British company Tozer Seeds, 15 years in the making.

As the highly nutritious Kalettes are soon to arrive in shops, consumers are encouraged to choose SA by purchasing locally grown produce to support the state’s growers and producers.

The Samwell family has been growing vegetables in the Adelaide Hills for more than 60 years, with their first property in Summertown started by Scott’s grandfather.

Eastbrook Farms in the Adelaide Hills produces a number of winter vegetable crops including Kalettes and brussels sprouts.

With properties now at Mt Barker and Langhorne Creek, Scott says defined seasons and access to quality infrastructure are key benefits to farming in the state. Eastbrook has produced brussels sprouts since its foundation, but Kalettes are a recent addition.

“I just got told ‘here’s some seeds, they’re something new, give it a go,” says Scott. “In about 2012, I planted the first lot – about 80 seeds. Since then, we’ve upped our quantity to quite a few hundred thousand. It’s been a pretty exciting journey.”

Seven years on from that first planting, Scott’s farm is now producing approximately 50–60 tonnes of Kalettes annually. Alongside their green and Red Darling brussels sprouts, Eastbrook’s Kalettes are distributed to major supermarkets Australia-wide, as well as exported to South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand.

Scott puts the success of the Kalette down to its versatility, noting that the flavour is less intense than typical kale or brussels sprout varieties.

“They’re not as strong as kale, they’re not as peppery as brussels sprouts either. They’re quite a happy medium between the two,” he says.

“If people have a dislike of either of those, this is an alternative that is going to be just as nutritious without having as strong a taste.”

Scott Samwell of Eastbrook Farms in the middle of the brussel sprouts field.

Eastbrook Farms also grows both traditional green brussels sprouts and their uncharacteristically sweet Red Darling sprouts.

“I was blown away by how sweet they were,” Scott says. “Sometimes sprouts are quite strong tasting, and you wouldn’t traditionally use the word ‘sweet’ with sprouts, but the Red Darlings are beautiful.”

Major supermarket Coles has shown strong interest in Scott’s Red Darling sprouts, having launched a successful state-wide trial which developed into a national distribution last year.

Scott is quick to point out the role that local customer relationships have played for his business, particularly through social media and Eastbrook’s new Paddock Identifier Project, which allows customers to see where and how their produce is grown, right down to the paddock in which they’re sown.

“In the past, we’ve always been a step away from the consumer,” he says. “My sister-in-law Deb manages our social media now, and that is connecting us with our customers. People can identify who we are, and where we are.

“As soon as the new year ticked over, we had people enquiring about when our Kalettes were coming into season.”

The importance of local support goes both ways for Scott, who says he sees the benefits in choosing fellow SA producers and supporting the local economy himself.

“It’s great when there’s a connection with the people who buy your produce, wines or meats through,” he says. “You know who they are, and where it’s coming from. It’s a good story, that’s what I think.”

To draw a focus on the importance of choosing local seasonal produce, I Choose SA has partnered with Sprout Cooking School and Pick a Local, Pick SA! to dish up a gourmet SA lunch experience in Rundle Mall on May 24.

Diners can pre-book their restaurant-quality dish, catered by Sprout, at ichoosesa.com.au and collect from under the Gawler Place canopy from midday.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Doors open for opportunities in future careers

From the defence sector and cyber security to artificial intelligence and robotics – South Australia’s future industries are the great engines of change.

It’s a serious but exciting transition away from the once-thriving auto-manufacturing sector and towards these prosperous future industries that will lead to an increase in demand for skilled workers.

SA businesses to have already found solutions and strengths in our growing future industries include Axiom Precision Manufacturing, which once specialised in automotive parts manufacturing but has now transitioned into design and manufacturing for the aerospace, defence, rail, mining and health industries.

Two former car making factories – the Mitsubishi plant (now Tonsley) in Adelaide’s south and the Holden site in Adelaide’s north – have been reawakened into innovation districts and business parks home to thriving start-ups and global giants taking their products to the world.

But as our state continues its trajectory towards a new and brighter future, we must equip our children and students with the necessary skills and tools to navigate future workplaces.

Axiom Precision Manufacturing’s operations supervisor Shannon Wride started as an apprentice in 2006 with the company that focused on work for the automotive industry. Now Axiom works for defence, aerospace, mining, rail and medical companies.

The future success of our state rests in the hands of young people and we – both now and in the future – must embrace change, innovation and entrepreneurship to allow the next generation’s workforce to thrive.

Throughout the months of May and June, Brand South Australia is exploring Careers of the Future as part of the successful I Choose SA campaign.

We’ll be exploring what SA industries could look like in 20 years’ time, what steps businesses, industry and government are taking to prepare us for the future, and what skill requirements our children need for future workplaces.

Here at Brand SA News we’ll bring you a series of news articles on Careers of the Future and share the stories of people who are leading in fields of artificial intelligence, defence, health and ageing, entrepreneurialism, STEM education, advanced manufacturing and the space industry.

First up, we’ll bring you an interview with the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE) Board CEO Professor Martin Westwell, who will share his thoughts on the importance of growing and fostering future jobs through the curriculum and early STEM education.

We’ll also engage with Dr John Flackett, an expert in artificial intelligence (AI) who runs AiLab, a business assisting other businesses as well as academia, industry, community and government to navigate the complex field of AI and where it will take us in the future.

Throughout our exploration of Careers of the Future, it will become apparent how SA is preparing for the changing tides in industry and setting itself up to take on such projects as the $90 billion Naval Shipbuilding Program and the Australian Space Agency’s establishment at Lot Fourteen.

An artist’s impression of innovation hub Lot Fourteen, once fully redeveloped. Photo: Renewal SA.

Our entrepreneurial ecosystem is set to strengthen, with SA the first in the nation to trial a new entrepreneur’s visa that aims to attract foreign entrepreneurs and investors to the state.

Lot Fourteen innovation district, the site of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital, will be a hotspot for future jobs and home to growing industries such as AI, cyber security, smart sensor networks, robotics, big data, defence, and the creative industries. The Australian Space Agency will also be established there, including the new co-operative research centre for smart satellite technologies.

Our future businesses are likely to be smaller and more nimble, with technologies such as blockchain, augmented reality, virtual reality and machine learning changing how they operate by making them more efficient.

A report released in 2017 by the Foundation for Young Australians revealed that a teenager today is more likely to have 17 different jobs and more than five careers in their lifetime. So how do we prepare them for this shift and for future work?

Keen to learn more? Come along to Brand South Australia’s Careers of the Future Industry Briefing on Monday May 13, 4–5.30pm, at Lot Fourteen. Guests will hear from Minister for Innovation and Skills David Pisoni, The NeuroTech Institute founder Dr Fiona Kerr, cyber security specialist for Naval Group Nathan Morelli and Renewal SA (Lot Fourteen) director of place and marketing, Rachel Walsh. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Industry in focus: Careers of the Future

Throughout the months of May and June, future careers in South Australia will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

Embracing innovation, creativity and an understanding of building quality partnerships with technology is key to ensuring career opportunities in the future. SA is taking necessary steps to equip future generations with the skills for future careers and current workforces to transition to the future industries.

Read more Careers of the Future stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Instant smoothies look to become export success

The desire to create an instant smoothie at home with the healthiest ingredients sparked an idea to invent a disposable smoothie in a cup – and this South Australian innovation is now set to become an export success.

Brett Gresham quickly devised an instant fruit and nutrition-enriched smoothie recipe in a receptacle that only requires the addition of water and a 30-second blitz, but it took much longer before he had the right commercial product to take to market.

His Naked Blendz smoothie cups are now making big inroads in the hospitality industry, but only after a prolonged three-year journey.

Naked Blendz founder Brett Gresham had a smoothie stall at this year’s Tasting Australia eating and drinking festival.

“The whole business hinged on perfecting a simple innovation that enables unblended smoothies containing snap-frozen real food to be sold, blended, served and consumed all from the same disposable cup,” says Brett. “There is no preparation required, almost no clean-up or bench space needed, and the drink contains no added sugar.”

The unique aspect of this product is an adaptor that connects cups to Nutribullet blenders, but while the intellectual property for the Naked Blendz Design Registered Cup Lock was developed in 2016, it took two years to work through seven prototypes before arriving at the current efficient design.

Brett’s next great challenge was having this product manufactured in SA, and this also took time. He approached several established manufacturing firms but was turned away because they “preferred not to take a risk with an untested product”.

Instead, Brett was able to have the adaptors made at Orana Australia, whose workshop supports people in SA with disabilities. Brett says he’s delighted by what the Orana workers have been able to produce.

“It all ties together now as a very strong and cohesive SA success story,” he says.

The spinach, pear and hemp seed smoothie before being blended.

The Naked Blendz mix of frozen fruit pieces and powders comes in five different flavour combinations – cinnamon with fruit and walnut, super green (with spinach and hemp seed), banana choc (with maca root), berrylicious (with acai), mixed tropical fruits and true protein (a vegan blend with prebiotic multi fibre).

The key to ensuring the freshness of Naked Blendz’s fruit components is using ingredients that have undergone individual quick freezing, a popular method used in the food processing industry that ensures smaller ice crystals to prevent the molecular construction of ingredients from being destroyed.

To facilitate this, Brett is buying a large amount of fresh SA produce – especially pears, apples and spinach – but also needs to buy many tropical fruits from interstate, and a few imported goods – maca root, coconut and, strangely, banana.

“Australia doesn’t produce any individual quick frozen banana, and that’s an essential need for several of our products. Perhaps that’s an opportunity we’ve identified for another Australian company.”

The Naked Blendz factory.

With its technology and manufacturing logistics in place, Naked Blendz has taken flight. Members of the public got to taste the smoothies when Brett presented a Naked Blendz stand at Town Square throughout Tasting Australia, and sold through available stock on several days.

This month, the branded smoothie cups reached into Queensland, making the product available to hospitality businesses across all Australian states, resulting in about 500 cafés using Naked Blendz – and many hotel chains here and abroad are currently investigating this fast and convenient smoothie solution.

“The product has been making a significant transition beyond cafés since it was initially released,” says Brett. “It’s now being used in hospitals and aged care facilities. It’s in hotel kitchens, being used for breakfast menus, in the bars, and at poolside cocktail bars in resorts.”

Naked Blendz smoothies will hit retail stores within the next month, while plans for exports are on the horizon.

Brett anticipates that the product will take another significant leap in the next month, when Naked Blendz becomes available in retail stores. Trials are currently underway on a series of biodegradable cups that Brett wants to have in place for the launch of the retail range, which is slated for late August.

He also hopes these cups will have lids with sip-able spouts rather than having straws – “we’re hoping to lead the culture change with this in the smoothie market,” enthuses Brett – but looks like having to create lids of his own design.

“We’ve provided a quick and easy healthy alternative to sugar-laden beverages, and we’ve seen that this is exactly what consumers want,” he says. “Even though it took quite a while for us to perfect such a simple idea, it’s that simplicity which has made all the difference.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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UniSA’s sleep lab uncovering impacts of night work, poor quality ZZZs

Sleep – it’s as essential as breathing and as crucial as eating. But are we getting enough shut-eye?

“No,” says Professor Siobhan Banks from the University of South Australia’s Centre for Sleep Research.

“We’re seeing quite a significant number of the population getting less than six hours of sleep a night and this is leading to all sorts of issues with productivity at work, significant sleepiness leading to accidents on the road and costing businesses a lot of money.”

Prof Banks is Associate Professor in the Centre for Sleep Research at UniSA’s Magill campus, one of the premier sleep research facilities in Australia featuring a sleep laboratory led by experts in human sleep, biological rhythms, sleep disorders, cognitive neuroscience, shift work and patient safety.

Prof Banks has dedicated much of her research career to exploring the impacts of sleep deprivation and shift work on psychological and physiological functioning and what can be done to prevent the detrimental effects of disturbed sleep.

“It’s really about thinking how we can improve sleep for everybody. We can’t stop shift work and new parents can’t suddenly sleep walk,” she says. “So how can we help everybody within their lifestyle manage their fatigue and sleep better?”

Prof Siobhan Banks’s research examines the impact of sleep deprivation and shift work on psychological and physiological functioning. Photo: Defence Innovation Partnership.

Prof Banks is a board member of the Sleep Health Foundation which in 2017 released a report, prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, that investigated the economic consequences of poor sleep.

The report, Asleep on the Job: Counting the Cost of Poor Sleep, estimated that inadequate sleep was believed to cost the Australian economy $66.3 billion in 2016/17 including productivity losses of $17.9 billion.

It also estimated that almost 40% of Australian adults experience some form of inadequate sleep – something which can have fatal consequences while driving on the road or contribute to work-related accidents. Chronic inadequate sleep can also cause heart disease, obesity, depression and a range of other serious health issues.

With sleep being an integral part of our lives (the average human spends one third of their life sleeping) long periods of sleep enables us to survive, allowing our bodies to restore and rejuvenate, grow muscle, repair tissue and synthesise hormones.

Prof Banks says there two basic types of sleep – rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is quite active and non-REM sleep which is non-active.

“The sleep that’s not (active) is the deep stage where it takes a lot for you to wake up. It’s that stage you’re very relaxed, your breathing slows, your temperature stays low, your body stops metabolising, stops producing urine, it’s where your brain really shuts down and enables a period of rest and recovery,” she says.

Prof Banks says the whole process of sleep is important meaning that if a person isn’t getting enough sleep or is disrupting the structure of sleep – they miss out on not entering these deep stages of sleep, as well as dreaming sleep.

“A lot of people only get by on 5-6 hours of sleep which isn’t really enough, and we know that that’s related to a whole bunch of other health-related conditions. Shift workers are trying to sleep at times when our body is really prime for wake.”

Poor sleep quality is something affecting shift workers or those working outside of the usual nine-to-five day. Prof Banks says much of our physiology and how we metabolise food is linked to daytime hours, when our bodies are used to getting food and can metabolise it properly.

Shift workers on the other hand are awake and eating through the night, even though their bodies aren’t prepared for receiving food. Prof Banks says the disruption of these internal body clocks is putting shift workers at increased risk of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

UniSA is currently working on a study, with funding from the University of Adelaide and the National Health and Medical Research Council, to investigate altering meals times to reverse metabolic consequences of shift work.

Preliminary research undertaken on rodents found that rats that fasted during a simulated night shift environment suffered fewer ill effects than the rats that ate during the night.

This study led to a small-scale pilot study on five human male volunteers at the Centre of Sleep Research before the much larger, both male and female study commenced. Data is currently being accumulated, in aim of the results helping form industry recommendations and policy guidance, leading to a reduction in metabolic disease in shift workers.

As for other sleep disrupters in 21st century life, the impact of smart phones on sleep is a cause of debate for sleep experts, Prof Banks says.

“There is quite a bit of debate in our field whether these items of technology are affecting our sleep because of the light emitted from the screen or whether it’s more to do with the psychological effect of having emails, playing games or texting late into the night,” she says.

“But I think the amount of technology that we have in our lives and the amount of technology that we rely on if definitely meaning that sleep is becoming less of a priority.”

So how much sleep does the average human actually need and can we survive on as little as four or five hours a night?

“You’re probably looking at 7-8 hours as the optimal amount of sleep … but some people are just naturally able to get away with a shorter amount, and some people need a much longer amount. Generally, people know themselves how much they need,” Prof Banks says.

“We know there are a lot more people living on 4-5 hours a night than there actually should be. While there are some people who can do it, the majority of adults need more like seven, but those numbers are different for children, teenagers and older people as well.”

Industry in focus: Health

Throughout the month of April, the state’s health industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia’s health sector is among the best in the world, renowned for developing new and advanced technologies and research outcomes. Our health industry infrastructure is world-class, providing new pathways and job opportunities, as well as a growing potential for health tourism.

Read more health stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Why a Dutch cardiologist calls Adelaide’s health research hub home

During the first week Dr Johan Verjans arrived in Adelaide to start a new job as a cardiologist he picked up the phone to search for more work opportunities.

“I had noticed one of the best computer vision groups in the world is actually based in Adelaide,” the cardiologist says.

He rang its chief to talk through opportunities in the health space and found the group receptive to his ideas – so receptive that he has now been named its deputy director Medical Machine Learning.

“Research is exploding in the artificial intelligence space, in Adelaide we have a clear advantage, with leading groups,” Dr Verjans says.

Dr Verjans believes the new job at the Australian Institute of Machine Learning complements his existing work list. This includes being a member of the heart research team at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and a practising cardiologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

The latest task is about building a bridge between clinicians and engineers in a bid to make groundbreaking discoveries to improve health. Dr Verjans believes this interest in using artificial intelligence to advance health care could have worldwide ramifications.

Cardiologist Dr Johan Verjans is also deputy director of the Australian Institute of Machine Learning, and is on the heart research team at SAHMRI. Photo by JKTP.

“I think my best achievement will be in staying optimistic and working hard to facilitate this for the whole research family,” he says with a laugh.

It has already been a busy morning when the Dutch doctor answers the phone to talk about his move to Adelaide. He has already met with a potential project collaborator for the Australian Institute of Machine Learning and held a clinic for heart patients in the morning.

Dr Verjans says the hospital’s cardiac department has a wealth of information that can be fed into projects where machine learning can then improve the care for heart patients.

He is already involved in one project to use existing data from ECG (electrocardiogram), biomarkers and artificial intelligence to see if computers can help give better feedback in deciding when a patient can be safely sent home.

The talented cardiologist says Adelaide has a lot to offer in the health research field and that he and his wife, Yvette van Eenennaam chose to move from The Netherlands for both job opportunities and the state’s lifestyle.

Yvette has also won a key role in promoting health research in the city after she was appointed as the first general manager of Adelaide BioMed City after it was launched last year.

BioMed City is a partnership between SAHMRI with its more than 600 medical researchers, the Royal Adelaide Hospital and the state’s three universities.

“It’s hard to find that whole package like it is in Adelaide in other places, with liveability, ambition and world-class research,” Dr Verjans says.

The Australian Institute of Machine Learning is one of six research units at Adelaide University and Dr Verjans is among more than 100 researchers involved.

It’s a highly specialised field, but in simple terms, machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence that enables computers and machines to autonomously learn how to do complex tasks without being overtly programmed.

Computers are fed examples of data and information so they can look for patterns and help make better future decisions.

Yvette Eenennaam and Johan Verjans chose to pursue their medical careers in Adelaide over other leading health research cities.

Adelaide’s research unit is already recognised as a frontrunner in defence, creating algorithms for driverless cars, robotics and has helped push a medical device from SA-based LBT technologies to FDA approval.

“I’m thinking it will be a job growth area in Adelaide,” Dr Verjans says. “We’re really looking for solutions and at the moment we are only scratching the surface.”

Having Dr Verjans’ input is a coup for the state. His varied career also includes being chairman of the Dutch medical students and being a member of the federal board of the Royal Dutch Medical Doctors Federation.

A few of his Dutch students have actually followed him to Adelaide to pursue new opportunities “one worked with me as a student in Utrecht and now is here in Adelaide working”, he says.

Before he left for Australia Johan was also Chairman of Young@Heart, representing Dutch Early and Mid-career Cardiovascular Researchers on behalf of the Netherlands Heart Institute and Dutch Heart Foundation.

Both Dr Verjans and Yvette believe they have made a sound decision moving to Adelaide in 2017 with their two daughters aged seven and five.

“There’s so much more potential in this city and it’s relatively unknown what the city has to offer,” he says.

“Some people choose cities and jobs for wrong reasons, when I had job offers in Amsterdam and Sydney, we chose the liveable city.”

Dr Johan Verjans is Brand South Australia’s latest I Choose SA ambassador.

Industry in focus: Health

Throughout the month of April, the state’s health industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia’s health sector is among the best in the world, renowned for developing new and advanced technologies and research outcomes. Our health industry infrastructure is world-class, providing new pathways and job opportunities, as well as a growing potential for health tourism.

Read more health stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Mother’s Day: SA’s top chefs share their favourite family eating spots

Mother’s Day is approaching on Sunday, May 12 – a chance to spoil the greatest women in our lives. What a better way to show your appreciation by treating Mum to a meal out at one of South Australia’s dining establishments – and supporting local jobs and producers along the way! Brand SA News contributor Vanessa Keys hunted down some of our state’s top’s chefs to discover where they’ll be taking their family this Mother’s Day.

Georgie Rogers is head chef at East End Cellars.

“Mum and I love driving out to regional restaurants and making a day of it. The Lane at Hahndorf is a favourite – the view is spectacular and Jimmy’s (head chef James Brinklow) food is always a delight.

We also go to Mum’s local pub The Kentish a lot – their smoky paprika hummus with ground lamb is amazing. For brunch, I recommend the scrambled eggs at Hey Jupiter. They’re light and creamy – definitely the best in Adelaide.”

Georgie Rogers of East End Cellars.

Nikkita Wood is the pastry chef and manager at Comida. She also runs catering business A Place at the Table.

“I prefer to stay home on Mother’s Day and avoid the crowds. I usually do a brunch spread with Mum’s favourite goodies from the Adelaide Central Market – Fleurieu Milk yoghurt, KI honey, fruit from House of Organics, pastries from Dough, Brillat-Savarin triple cream from Smelly Cheese, plus my homemade granola and jams.

As a family, we love Sukhumvit Soi 38 on Pulteney Street – the flavours are incredible and the dishes great for sharing. For Sunday lunch, we head up to Terroir Auburn in the Clare Valley. Dan and Annika have taken over the café next door to the restaurant and the food is top notch.”

Comida pastry chef and manager Nikkita Wood, right, with her mother and sister.

Jeffrey Trotter is head chef at the Hagen Arms, and Five O’Clock Somewhere.

“One of our favourites for brunch is Pane e Latte. Order the breakfast carbonara – the baked spaghetti gives it the perfect crunch – and the paccheri al ragu di polpo, which is hands down the best octopus ragu in Adelaide, if not Australia.

For dinner, we love Parwana – they have three menus that they rotate throughout the week. Bring your own wine – their BYO charge goes to the homeless. And for Sunday lunch, Casa Carboni in Angaston is a must. (Owners) Matteo and Fiona make you feel like family, and everything is prepared fresh with produce from the Barossa markets. You feel like you’re in a tiny Italian village.”

Jeffrey Trotter of the Hagen Arms pub in Echunga.

Jodie Zerna is head chef at My Grandma Ben.

“This Mother’s Day I’ll be cooking at My Grandma Ben and hopefully giving all the mothers a day off! We don’t dine out a lot as a family – we tend to have barbecues and bring a plate to share – but when I visit my sister in Christies Beach, we always get fish, chips and tabouli at Champion Takeaway. Ask for the fresh flake – they catch it themselves.

For a cheap lunch, we head to Pho Minh in Mansfield Park – order the pho with oxtail, tripe and tendon. And for brunch, the spicy ramen at Black Dog Gallery in Tusmore is a must (and great for a hangover).

If we’re feeling fancier, we head down to Salopian Inn in McLaren Vale for local SA seafood and something green from their kitchen garden.”

Jodie, right, with her mum and sister.

Luke and Anthony Savas run Pan & Vine.

“We usually spend Mother’s Day at Yiayia and Papou’s (grandparents) house. Mum will serve her signature dish – Moroccan chicken – with Yiayia’s homemade apricot jam marinade.

When we go out, we head to Shobosho and order the roast leek and the kingfish sashimi with yuzu dressing. For brunch, we love the Exchange Specialty Coffee – the Wallace sandwich with avocado, pancetta and chipotle mayo is an institution.”

The Savas brothers of Pan & Vine in Kent Town.

Caitlin Duff runs Sibling café.

“Sibling’s open on Mother’s Day, so we’ll spend the morning there and then head to Mum’s for afternoon tea – this is a special one as it’s my first as a new mum.

For Sunday lunch, our go-to is Fino at Seppeltsfield. There’s eight of us siblings and partners all with varying preferences and they never skip a beat in accommodating us all.

As a family, we go to Goodness Coffee Co in Aldinga every single day (sometimes twice) because their coffee is so good. And we love to drop into My Grandma Ben at Plant 4 Bowden when we visit The Lost Loaf to pick up our bread order. Order the roo stack – it’s delicious and ethical.”

Nathaniel Morse and Caitlin Duff at Sibling café.

Kane Pollard is head chef at Topiary.

“For a relaxed family meal, we head to the Stanley Bridge Tavern. They have a great wine list and tasty small plates – the hummus and wedges with house chilli jam are both great.

For brunch, we love Acacia at Henley Beach. Do the tasting menu – (chef) Duane does an incredible job of piecing flavours together that push you a little out of your comfort zone. We also recently had breakfast at C.R.E.A.M, which was pretty impressive. The donut breakfast sandwich felt a little wrong but so incredibly right at the same time. I had it with a side of buttermilk fried chicken – delicious.”

Kane Pollard, left, of Topiary in Tea Tree Gully.

Feature image: The Lane, Adelaide Hills, SATC.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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SA’s brightest medical minds dedicate careers to saving lives

Many of South Australia’s brightest medical minds, steering global innovations that save lives, belong to those who also show the greatest compassion.

Professor Tim Hughes – Cancer Theme Leader at the SA Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) and Consultant Haematologist in the Division of Haematology at SA Pathology – has dedicated his career to fighting chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), a disease that proved fatal for most people diagnosed 20 years ago.

Now, about 80% of those who are diagnosed survive.

A profound connection and sense of devotion to those suffering with CML has driven Prof Hughes to find answers that can help those he has formed intimate bonds with during their treatment journey – and the results of his research breakthroughs have been outstanding.

“In the 1990s, I could never accept that a lot of my patients were dying. They would be doing OK on treatments for five or six years, and then die. I went to a lot of funerals. If that doesn’t motivate you to find a solution, I don’t know what will,” he says.

“Now, the results have been incredible. I get to meet the children of CML patients – and the grandchildren of patients. That has been one of the great pleasures of my work.”

Prof Tim Hughes has dedicated his career to fighting chronic myeloid leukaemia.

Motivation drove Prof Hughes to unlock one of the most significant discoveries in the history of leukaemia research – the use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Outlining his methods with TKI therapy has ensured a system that can measure affected cells in blood more accurately, enabling a more detailed analysis of specific cancer-fighting drug development.

“It’s quite a remarkable change that we’ve seen in a short period,” he says, “but there is still a way to travel to beat this disease.”

Currently, Prof Hughes estimates that 80% of patients with CML beat the disease; of these, two thirds will remain on therapeutic drugs for the rest of their lives, but most importantly about 30% of patients can finish taking drugs for therapy and remain in remission.

His lingering concern is that 20% of patients still die of CML-related causes, and that drugs used for therapy are not ideal indefinite solutions. Recently, Prof Hughes’ team based at SAMRHI has pioneered a process to get patients off their TKIs, although this has significant adverse side-effects.

“We now need to take another big step. We made early leaps in fighting CML as the result of big collaborations, but the important work now is developing next generation drugs that are even more targeted and effective in beating the cancer.”

Prof Tim Hughes is Cancer Theme Leader at SAHMRI.

CML currently affects about 3000 patients a year in Australia, but the global impact of this disease is more alarming. By 2040, there are projected to be over three million people with CML worldwide, so Prof Hughes says a concerted global effort towards finding a complete a cure is imperative.

The iCMLf (International CML Foundation, for which Prof Hughes is the chairman) is making efforts to accelerate co-ordinating pockets of international research, to forge stronger collaborations between teams across the world that are separately making significant CML research developments. However, Prof Hughes says independent funds are required to speed this process.

As a result, and to mark 10 years of the iCMLf, Prof Hughes is part of a major fundraising and promotional event in late October – an expedition of 25 people, being a combination of doctors, researchers and several CML patients (some who are still taking drugs to suppress the leukeamia), that will climb to reach the 5800m summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.

“It’s a pretty clear message that we are all working together to reach the pinnacle,” says Prof Hughes. “For the Mt Kilimanjaro climb, we’re working outside our comfort zone – and that’s an appropriate metaphor, too. Without effort and commitment, you don’t achieve your goal.”

Prof Tim Hughes trains for a fundraising expedition up Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa later this year.

Over Easter, Prof Hughes walked the Great Ocean Road in Victoria as a training exercise, and he is busy appealing for donations towards the iCMLf fundraising goal of $100,000. He says this sum will keep supporting the application of CML advances from developed countries to developing nations. He has already seen great progress in Africa and India through 10 years of the foundation and hopes new funds will accelerate the process.

In October 2017, Prof Hughes won the prestigious GSK Award for Research Excellence for his work on CML, but he’s far from content with having played a major role in discovering a life-saving treatment. He now wants to beat the disease completely, and believes it is within reach.

“In 1993, I came to Adelaide to work specifically on this area of cancer research because I saw what was possible,” he says. “Now the ultimate result is tantalisingly close. I believe the pinnacle is within sight.”

To find out more details about Climb For A Cure, and to pledge financial support, visit the iCMLf website.

Industry in focus: Health

Throughout the month of April, the state’s health industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia’s health sector is among the best in the world, renowned for developing new and advanced technologies and research outcomes. Our health industry infrastructure is world-class, providing new pathways and job opportunities, as well as a growing potential for health tourism.

Read more health stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Largest indigenous health program based in SA

Adelaide’s renowned health precinct is home to some of the nation’s best researchers fighting shocking statistics showing indigenous Australians have a 10 year lower life expectancy.

The precinct’s Aboriginal Health Research Unit is now the largest dedicated indigenous health program in Australia – and possibly the world.

“This is extremely unusual, all of our work is focused on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Straits Islander people and we focus our work on things most important to their communities,” says Professor Alex Brown.

When Prof Brown was appointed to lead the unit at the new world-class South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in 2012 there was only one another staff member. Now it has 58 staff with half of the team indigenous.

“Identifying and supporting people to develop career opportunities in research is part of our core foundation,” Prof Brown says. “It makes us better, it makes it more real, more translatable in terms of policy and practice and keeps us accountable to what communities want us to deliver.”

When Prof Brown was first approached about the job seven years ago, he saw a rare opportunity to establish this unique Aboriginal response in the heart of the precinct near the River Torrens. Most research in this vital area was usually retrofitted at an existing institution.

Professor Alex Brown leads the Aboriginal Health Research Unit, one of the e largest programs of its kind in Australia.

“We went from one staff to 50 staff fairly quickly and all because people have realised how unique an opportunity this is to make a substantial difference in Aboriginal health,” he says. “We started with asking the community what their research priorities were.”

The Wardliparingga team in the unit, named after a Kaurna term meaning ‘house river place’, has particularly focused on finding ways to reduce the impact and incidence of chronic disease along with understanding psychosocial determinants of illness and health.

It has also focused on determining how disparities in access to quality treatments and services can be improved to drive better health outcomes.

The disparity in health between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people is still significant, not just in terms of life expectancy, but generally in rates of heart and kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and depression.

Prof Brown says the unit is currently running about 40 different research projects and “we would be in the top group of researchers in terms of Aboriginal health across the country in what we do, and the sheer size of us as a group, we’re one of the best”.

He has been at the forefront in tackling the issue since he first trained in medicine in New South Wales consistently working to engage governments and agencies in making change.

Professor Alex Brown addresses media.

Prof Brown completed a Masters of Public Health and worked in Alice Springs managing the local Centre for Disease Control before starting in research, earning a PhD exploring the links between psychosocial stress, depression and heart disease in indigenous men. He is now also a professor of Aboriginal Health at the University of Adelaide.

At SAHMRI, Prof Brown is proud of the work the unit has achieved in policy recommendations and “we’ve trained a whole generation of young Aboriginal people to pursue careers in research”.

He is likely to have further impact on national change after being named as co-chair of a new advisory board overseeing the allocation of $160 million in national funding for indigenous health research announced in February by the Federal Government.

As part of the funding, $35 million was earmarked to develop a vaccine to eliminate Rheumatic heart disease, a complication of bacterial infections of the throat and skin. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are 64 times more likely to develop the disease than non-indigenous people.

Prof Brown also sits on a range of national committees, including the Heart Foundation and the Cardiac Society Indigenous Cardiovascular Council and was previously a member of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Equality Council. Yet his core work is still firmly in SA.

“This is exactly the right place for us to be, we’re in the middle of the country, we can commute anywhere, we can access metropolitan, regional and remote communities we want to work across,” he says.

“There’s a single health system, single administrative structure and we’re in the heart of the medical research precinct…. Aboriginal health is right in the heart of it, it couldn’t be in a better place.”

Industry in focus: Health

Throughout the month of April, the state’s health industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia’s health sector is among the best in the world, renowned for developing new and advanced technologies and research outcomes. Our health industry infrastructure is world-class, providing new pathways and job opportunities, as well as a growing potential for health tourism.

Read more health stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Ngeringa’s bounty draws a complete biodynamic picture

More than just a farm, Ngeringa has become a significant South Australian brand synonymous with freshness and flavour – across a raft of premium wines, vegetables, fruits and meats that are featured in many of the state’s best and most progressive restaurants.

It proves that Erinn and Janet Klein’s diverse 75-hectare farm at Mt Barker has captured something special through embracing biodynamic farming principals.

However, somewhat surprisingly, Erinn says the farm’s cohesive output hasn’t been the result of a master plan, rather that the Kleins have kept reacting to change and seizing opportunity as it has occurred through the past two decades.

“The original vision was simply to create a biodynamic vineyard, according to the biodynamic farming principals of Rudolf Steiner, and the concept has grown as it went along,” Erinn explains, acknowledging that Ngeringa was previously his parents’ world-renowned Jurlique herb farm.

The Ngeringa farm at Mt Barker in the Adelaide Hills embraces biodynamic farming principals.

This land has been certified biodynamic for more than 20 years, establishing a unique platform for the five-hectare vineyard and straw-bale winery building that was established in 2001.

While the certified biodynamic Ngeringa brand produces a raft of significant wines – from its estate harvest of chardonnay, pinot noir, syrah and viognier grapes, with some sangiovese, nebbiolo, and aglianico – it’s the farm’s diverse food output that has made the Ngeringa biodynamic story so compelling.

“We inherited a significant fruit orchard that was established long before Janet and I got here. We introduced animals to help the land remain in balance – sheep to reduce the weeds that grow among the vines, some chickens, some Southern Highland cows,” Erinn says. “Vegetables came almost as an afterthought. It took a long time and a long of hard work before the farm managed to look complete.”

The current situation has evolved thanks to the introduction of Andy Taylor to the farm about two years ago, to specialise in vegetable production – and this only occurred because an experiment in leasing parts of the farm for share farming didn’t work.

“We found that we couldn’t attract people who were prepared to look after the land as we would ourselves,” says Erinn. “We know that requires a lot of hard work, but we were very disappointed by the outcomes, until Andy came along.”

Animals such as these Southern Highland cows, were introduced to the farm to help the land remain in balance. Photo by Tyrone Ormsby.

His expertise and commitment to growing a diverse mix of vegetables has bolstered Ngeringa’s produce output from two garden beds (which mostly fed the Klein family and a few friends) to now cover two hectares.

“Word about our vegetables kind of leaked out. We’d give a few boxes of surplus food to restaurants that bought our wine, as an added extra, and the chefs went nuts about the flavour and freshness,” Erinn says. “Everyone wanted more, but we just couldn’t provide. Andy’s energy and focus on the gardening has made expansion possible.”

Ngeringa doesn’t sell through wholesalers, because Erinn says that system couldn’t guarantee the absolute freshness of vegetables being promptly delivered. Instead, they pick to order – orders placed by Monday mornings are picked on Monday and Tuesday, and delivered on Wednesday.

Beyond this food being received by six local greengrocers and about 12 restaurants – including award-winners Orana and Africola, Gather @ Coriole and Etica – there are about 25 boxes of mixed vegetables sold to local customers.

“Having some regular families placing orders keeps it real for us, but we are now at the absolute capacity of what we can provide,” says Erinn. “Growing an array of vegetables is seriously hard work that requires an incredible skill set, and Andy is an exceptional gardener.”

Chef Brendan Cato of The Farmed Table, left, with Erinn Klein at a Ngeringa vintage lunch prepared with produce fresh from the farm.

The patience of chefs and customers to only receive what food is available rather than pressure Ngeringa for constant supply has been a game-changer – not only with seasonal vegetable supplies, but also with sporadic meat. Ngeringa runs about 110 ewes and lambs a year, which means that chefs can only be offered fresh lamb every six weeks or so as a special offer. They don’t complain.

“We’re not viewed as unreliable because we don’t have everything available all the time,” says Erinn. “Adelaide has a whole group of smart chefs who respect this. They know that food from our farm has guaranteed freshness and incredible flavour.”

The best advertisement of what the farm provides are sporadic weekend feasts held at the winery cellar door, either as special events for regular customers or as part of festivals, recently using freelance chef Shannon Fleming (formerly at Orana Restaurant) to use only Ngeringa produce.

“We can provide everything that the chefs use, except dairy, and it shows that what we have here is very special,” says Erinn. “Our biggest challenge is how to figure out how we could do more without making it impossible for ourselves to manage.

“At Ngeringa, everything is still a work in progress – perhaps it always will be – but what we’re doing is working well.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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