TEAM work and dedication has won the prestigious Vitale Barberis Canonico Wool Excellence Award for New South Wales Saxon growers, the Wood family of Uralla.
The 2017 award was presented to the family recently at the Frogmore Creek Winery in Hobart by Vitale Barberis Canonico principal Alberto Barberis Canonico and raw procurement manager Davide Fontaneto.
Mr Fontaneto said the 2016/17 winning clip was very stylish Saxon wool with a whiteness and resilience that made it a pleasure to behold.
“Each line was classed-out to be even in the main characteristics of crimp, length and strength.”
He said 30 percent of the clip was classed into VBC’s very best spinner lines and more than 80pc of the entire clip was accepted into the Wool Excellence Club contract.
“A wonderful effort from obviously very passionate wool producers.”
The family’s 1618 hectare Dog Trap property at Uralla in NSW’s New England region sells under the JW/URALLA brand and is currently operated by two generations of the Wood family, Geoff and Jan Wood and their two sons, Simon and Cameron, the fifth generation to run sheep at Dog Trap.
Dedication to breeding, consistent clip preparation along with an innovative and progressive approach to managing their farm has proved them deserving winners, VBC said.
The award event was attended by Vitale Barberis Canonico (VBC) representatives, Wool Excellence Club members from NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, industry representatives and media.
The Wood brothers Simon and Cameron were presented with the award, which included a cash prize to the value of $50,000 and an all-expenses paid trip to Italy to meet with Vitale Barberis Canonico representatives in the Biella region of Italy.
VBC said the award provides a memorable experience for the winners who gain the opportunity to observe the transformation of their superior raw product through to luxurious fabrics.
Cameron Wood said for many many years his family had been dedicated to wool, in particular Saxon wool.
“It is wonderful to experience recognition for this great product, and it is a great honour and a privilege to have won this prestigious award.
“We now have a real incentive to continue on our path. This club and competition gives us a drive and will to continue to produce this type of wool,” he said.
To be eligible for this significant award growers must be members of the VBC Wool Excellence Club. Members are specially selected by VBC using strict criteria, and must demonstrate sustainable wool production and notably the attributes of superfine saxon Merino wool which is most highly regarded by Vitale Barberis Canonico for their high-end fabric production.
The VBC Wool Excellence Award is just one of an array of initiatives created by the company to encourage saxon wool producers. All members of the Vitale Barberis Canonico Wool Excellence Club need to be accredited under the SustainaWOOL Integrity Scheme, a scheme sponsored by Vitale Barberis Canonico and managed by New England Wool. This is a scheme promoting ethical, environmental and high-quality wool production. VBC Wool Excellence Club members benefit from special “purchase contracts” at significant premiums to the physical market, and regular Club meetings where information can be shared between members and with Vitale Barberis Canonico.
Mr Fontaneto said a strong relationship between wool growers and those at the other end of the supply chain selling wool fabrics to the world, is the most powerful tool in achieving excellence.
“With the right wool we make the right fabrics, fabrics matching the requirements of our final consumers.
“It is a virtuous chain where the first important link benefits from the success of the last.”
VBC factory visit was motivational
The Dog Trap property has been in the Wood family for more than a century. The property was originally 300 acres, expanding to 900 acres in 1922, and today has grown to almost 4000 acres or 1618 hectares, running 5500 breeding ewes and 700 cattle.
Sheep have been part of the property’s history since its inception, but the family was originally known as horse breakers and Geoff’s grandfather was considered a well-known water diviner throughout central and southern Queensland.
Geoff Wood said up until the mid-1980s a variety of different bloodlines were used until he decided Dog Trap will become predominantly a superfine Saxon wool-growing enterprise.
“In 2000, we were fortunate enough to visit the Barberis factory in Italy.
“It was a real motivation for us to keep producing the type of wool we do,” Mr Wood said.
Cameron Wood said the family was trying to produce a Saxon-based clip; 75mm long, bright, based mainly on Hillcreston blood.
“ For the past 50 or so years we’ve been trying to produce really bright, really fine crimping wool perfect for the VBC Wool Excellence Club contracts,” he said.
Animal welfare and sustainability are paramount for the Woods, whose clip is SustainaWOOL accredited.
“Our living is our animals, so we make sure they are well looked after.
“If we don’t have healthy well-fed animals then we’re not doing our job properly and not being professional in what we do.”
The Woods work closely together and believe team work is imperative both on the farm and in the shed to achieve the best possible results. They employ thorough classing and preparation processes with systematic communication at each step to ensure consistency and the highest possible standards for their clip.
Geoff and Jan Wood plan to hand over the reins to Cameron and Simon, who in turn plan to carry on the tradition of breeding Saxon superfine wool.
“If we aren’t looking after our stock and environment, we are not thinking about the future of our families.
“We love this land; we need to be thinking 10, 20, 30 years into future and the decisions we make now are so important,” Simon Wood said.