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Vitale Barberis Canonico Wool Excellence Award

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The presentation of the annual Vitale Barberis Canonico Wool Excellence Award for 2017 was celebrated in Hobart at picturesque Frogmore Creek Winery. The prestigious event was attended by Vitale Barberis Canonico (VBC) representatives, Wool Excellence Club members from NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, industry representatives and media.


The winners of the Award were New South Wales saxon breeders, the Wood family of “Dog Trap”, Uralla, in the New England region selling under the brand of JW/URALLA. The 4000 acre property is currently operated by two generations of the Wood family, father Geoff and his two sons Simon and Cameron who are 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.


Mr. Alberto Barberis Canonico and Mr. Davide Fontaneto (Raw Procurement Manager), of Vitale Barberis Canonico presented Geoff and Cameron with the award, which included a cash prize to the value of $50K along with an all-expenses paid trip to Italy to meet with Vitale Barberis Canonico representatives in the Biella region of Italy. 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.


“For many many years my family have 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 priviledge 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,” Cameron Wood, JW / Uralla.


Davide Fontaneto said of the winning clip, “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. 30% of the clip we classed into our very best spinner lines and we were able to accept over 80% of the entire clip into the WEC contract. A wonderful effort from obviously very passionate wool producers”.


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.


“A strong relationship between woolgrowers and those at the other end of the supply chain selling wool fabrics to the world, is our 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.” Davide Fontaneto, VBC.


2016/17 Winner:


The Wood family, “Dog Trap”, Uralla, NSW (Brand: JW/URALLA) -Located in northern New South Wales in the wool growing region of New England, Dog Trap lies about 4 kilometres east of Uralla. With an extensive farming history the Wood family are long-time producers of quality superfine wool and are dedicated to breeding and wool preparation of the highest standard.


Settled in the late 1800s Dog Trap has been in the Wood family for over a century. The property was originally 300 acres, expanding to 900 acres in 1922, and today has grown to almost 4000 acres running 5,500 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.


Up until the mid-1980s a variety of different bloodlines were used when Geoff decided Dog Trap will become predominantly a superfine saxon wool growing enterprise. This breeding continues today, ultimately producing the type of wool that is sought after by the Vitale Barberis Canonico; traditional superfine saxon wool. “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”, Geoff Wood.


“At Dog Trap we are trying to produce a saxon based clip; 75mm, bright, with the majority based on the Hillcreston bloodline. 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”, Cameron Wood.

Animal welfare and sustainability are paramount for the Woods, who are 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”, Simon Wood.


Geoff, Cameron and Simon 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 3 preparation processes with systematic communication at each step to ensure consistency and the highest possible standards for their clip. Geoff plans to hand over the reigns to Cameron and Simon, who in turn plan to carry on the tradition of breeding Saxon superfine wool. As Simon commented, “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”.

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