Irina Santiago-Brown is the inaugural Australian Women in Wine Awards viticulturist of the year

Irina Santiago-Brown is the inaugural Australian Women in Wine Awards viticulturist of the year

Dr. Irina Santiago-Brown provides consulting services in the areas of sustainability assessment and analysis as well as in organic and biodynamic certification for viticulture. Having developed Australia’s only sustainability system for viticulture - Sustainable Australia Winegrowing – Irina is uniquely qualified to provide valuable insight into all pathways for viticulture. Irina received the inaugural Australian Women in Wine Awards (AWIWA) Viticulturist of the Year in November 2015.

As a mid-life convert to viticulture, Irina completed her M.Sc. and PhD in Sustainability in Viticulture from the University of Adelaide. Her academic work has been paired with real world experience as co-owner of single vineyard estate winemaker Inkwell in McLaren Vale where she has overseen 30 acres of “A grade” vineyards with six varieties and made critically acclaimed wine since 2011. 

Since 2014, Irina had three significant academic papers published in peer-reviewed journals with one already having been re-printed in whole in a book edited by a Cornell University researcher in 2015. (links here)

Irina is available as a consultant in the areas of sustainability (practices, certification, education, systems, etc.) at a vineyard or regional level, organic and biodynamic certification as well as being a lead auditor for ISO 14001 projects.

Irina can be contacted at

Full CV and references provided on request.

Over 15 years of experience working on Government in Brazil dealing with international relations of the state of Bahia, including investment attraction, international trade support for companies and development of CRM systems and implementation of ISO 9001. While in Brazil, Irina was also a lecturer on international relations in two private universities.

Irina moved to Australia in 2009 as part of a career change journey. She wanted to use her management, educational and organizational previous skills but also wanted to be more in touch with nature and rural matters. The wine industry seemed to be the solution for that.  Since then, she earned a Masters in Viticulture at the University of Adelaide researching on differences (practices and costs) between biodynamic and conventional viticulture. While she was doing her masters she started to consult on organic and biodynamic certification.  She presented the topic during the AWITC in 2009 and has been helping vineyards and wineries to become certified.

In 2011, Irina received a full scholarship from the University of Adelaide and complementary one from AGWA (aka GWRDC). In the same period she worked part-time at the McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association where she conceptualized, designed and implemented SAW- Sustainable Australia Winegrowing program. When Irina left the Association for her consulting journey in the beginning of 2015.  By this time, SAW members in McLaren Vale already represented almost 50% of the region.  The program is being rolled out to other regions in Australia since October 2014 when Irina and Dudley decided to donate to SAW their $5000 advertising pack won in a selfie competition from WBM. In the SAW system, Irina also wrote the Community and Winery Relations sections of the Social Relations chapter as well as co-authored Waste Management and Economic Sustainability.

In 2014 Irina completed her PhD on sustainability assessments of wine grapes at the University of Adelaide and has published 3 articles on her research in peer-reviewed journals. To read articles, view Publications link.

Currently, Irina is sharing her time between working at Inkwell with her husband Dudley and consulting on sustainability (practices, certification, education, systems, etc.) at vineyard or regional level. Irina is also an accredited (Exemplar Global) 14001 lead auditor.

Contact Irina at