Australian War Memorial selects wine partner

The Australian War Memorial has appointed Canberra District based winery Shaw Vineyard Estate as its wine partner.

Memorial Director Brendan Nelson said he was extremely pleased to have a local wine maker of the calibre of Shaw as the exclusive wine sponsor.

“The Australian War Memorial endeavours to ensure every visitor to this place walks away with an experience they will never forget. Excellence in the visitor experience extends beyond those who wander the galleries and reflect on the artefacts on display, to those who choose the Memorial as a place for their corporate function or event,” Dr Nelson said.

“Shaw Vineyard Estate has an excellent reputation for quality, which befits the status of what the Australian War Memorial represents.”

Shaw Vineyard Estate Owner/Winemaker Graeme Shaw commented, “To be offered a partnership with such an Honoured and Dignified institution as the Australian War Memorial is something that makes me and my family incredibly proud.”

“The Memorial is a manifestation of the Australian character and we believe our wines, that are full of Canberra character, will be an ideal fit.”


Australian wine goes west to the Chengdu Fair

The Wine Australia pavilion saw first-hand the growing interest in premium Australian wine at the Chengdu Fair, one of the largest food and wine fairs in China.

It’s estimated that 100,000 people visited the Fair this year, making it one of the most important commercial opportunities for exporters in what is now Australia’s most valuable wine export market.

With a pavilion that was a third larger than last year, 21 exhibitors showed more than 50 brands from more than 20 wine regions across 5 states, highlighting the high quality and diversity of Australian wine.

On-site tastings hosted by certified Australian wine educators Terry Xu and Noel Chi attracted large crowds.

A networking dinner with local trade and media helped exhibitors build and strengthen relationships beyond the Fair.

“Australia is the fifth largest wine exporting country in the world. We have the best Shiraz in the world. When you hold a glass of Australian wine, you are holding a glass of Australian terroir,” said Christopher Lim, Australian Consulate General in Chengdu, who was a guest at the Fair.

The Wine Republic was one of the exhibitors at the Wine Australia booth.

“The Wine Republic is delighted to be here, at the Wine Australia booth. I think it’s just another of the many great activities organised by Wine Australia in China. Out here in China’s west, for us it is really a valuable experience and a way to reach people in the wine business in many other cities; not just the major eastern cities of China, but across a large part of China,” said Campbell Thompson, CEO of The Wine Republic.


Leading Aussie winemaker becomes global ambassador

The man behind Australia’s most famous wine has been given the task of promoting premium wines from his home state to the world.

Penfolds’ chief winemaker Peter Gago has today been appointed South Australia’s inaugural Great Wine Capitals Global Ambassador a year after South Australia joined the international organisation.

The Ambassador Program will see the appointment of wine and tourism leaders from each member city, opening the possibilities for collaboration and boosting the profile of the network.

Home to iconic brands such as Penfolds, Hardys, Jacobs Creek and Wolf Blass, South Australia is the country’s leading wine state, producing 50 per cent of all bottled wine and almost 80 per cent of premium wine.

Gago said Adelaide’s Great Wine Capital membership presented many exciting possibilities for its wine regions.

“Elevating the state’s wine profile on an international stage increases the exposure for our premium wine labels and raises the bar for us as a wine capital – we’re now benchmarking against regions like Bordeaux and this gives us the opportunity to learn from their experience and insights,” he said.

Last year, the Royal Institution of Australia awarded Gago a prestigious Bragg Membership for his contributions to the science of winemaking.

Penfolds produces Grange, the nation’s most celebrated wine.

A new partnership was also formed between the University of Adelaide and KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, France, to further accelerate wine industry education, innovation and research.

The international partnership will also extend to students, teachers and researchers with opportunities to participate in joint projects as well as study tours and overseas exchange programs with the internationally-acclaimed French wine region.

According to the Organisation of Vine and Wine, Australia was the world’s fifth largest wine-producing nation in 2016 behind Italy, France, Spain and the United States.

There are 18 wine regions in South Australia, including the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Limestone Coast and Riverland.

More than 200 cellar doors are within an hour’s drive of the city centre of Adelaide.

In 2014–15, South Australia’s wine industry generated almost $1.8 billion in revenue, with $1.2 billion of this from wine exports.

Connecting wine regions with early career researchers

Wine Australia is inviting early career researchers to apply for funding through the Incubator Initiative, a new program that will fund a series of regionally focused research projects.

The Incubator Initiative connects early career researchers with Australia’s wine regions to lead a co-funded locally-focused research project from priorities identified by Wine Australia’s Regional Program Partners.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said the program will foster stronger links between wine regions and research and development, and support emerging researchers who wish to move into the grape and wine sector.

‘Wine Australia funds research and marketing activities on behalf of the Australian wine sector and we’re passionate about getting the best people to work in our grape and wine community’, he said.

‘The Incubator Initiative is an exciting opportunity to further develop the connections between our research communities and our unique wine regions, while providing practical solutions that are locally-focused.

The Incubator Initiative is open to all early career researchers working for an Australian-based research organisation. Early career is defined as someone who has less than five years postdoctoral or post-Masters research experience.

Up to $20,000 is available to undertake projects identified by wine regions across Australia, with this funding matched by a co-contribution – cash or in-kind – from the research organisation where the researcher is employed.

The Incubator Initiative is a three-way partnership between Wine Australia, regional associations and research organisations to support our grape and wine community and encourage early career researchers.

Applications close on 18 April 2017.

Spanish saga to take centre stage at Seppeltsfield winery

A Seppelt family member’s account of Sherry yeast culture being transported in secret to Australia in the 1930s will be at the heart of a Spanish-themed food and wine event, to be held at Seppeltsfield winey.

On Thursday April 20th, as part of the 2017 Barossa Vintage Festival, Seppeltsfield will offer the next chapter of its pop-up restaurant series, unearthed@seppeltsfield. The estate’s vast Apera (Australian Sherry) collection will be celebrated, alongside a Spanish-influenced food menu.

Held in the estate’s 1882 Vinegar Haus, the event will take inspiration from fourth generation Hilton Mervyn Seppelt and his (somewhat secretive) manoeuvre to secure flor yeast culture from a Spanish bodega. Hilton’s son, Bill Seppelt will be in attendance to recall the story of his father’s enterprising efforts, which became the starting point for Seppeltsfield’s now irreplaceable Apera collection.

Seppeltsfield will complement the historic Spanish context with a modern twist – contemporary Apera-spiked cocktails will be offered alongside tapas dishes by Events Executive Chef, Owen Andrews.

Guests can expect a relaxed wine lounge atmosphere with chill-out music and special Flamenco guitar performances by Adelaide-based Spanish artist, Aloysius Leeson.

To mark 70 Years of the Barossa Vintage Festival, also on offer on the night will be an opportunity to indulge in a tasting of 1947 Seppeltsfield Para Vintage Tawny, conceived the same year as the inaugural event.

Image: Owen Andrews and Jennifer Schmidt prepare for unearthed@seppeltsfield – Vinegar Haus, as part of the 2017 Barossa Vintage Festival.

Sky is no limit for high-altitude wine blend

AN Australian winery has taken tailoring products to suit its target market to new heights.

St Hallett Wines in South Australia’s Barossa Valley has released a Shiraz blend specifically designed to be sipped in the high-altitude cabins of passenger aircrafts.

Plans are also in place to not only serve The Duo at altitude but to also blend it mid-flight for maximum effect.

The Duo, named after the neighbouring regions of Barossa Valley and Eden Valley where the shiraz grapes were sourced from, will be served exclusively on board Virgin Australiaflights in Business Class and can be sampled in Virgin Australia lounges.

St Hallett winemaker Shelley Cox said the cooler climate Eden Valley fruit was chosen for its floral and spicy aroma while the Barossa Valley grapes were more rounded and plush.

She said the creation of a specific blend was important because the cabin pressure, noise and dry air while flying dulled the senses.

“Blending the two of those together means you’ve got a full-flavoured palate but not the strong tannins so it’s nice and smooth, easy to drink and not out of balance.

“Whereas with the normal domestic wine the tannin might seem a little bit aggressive in those conditions.”

“It’s also got a nose that’s inviting and will be able to be sensed at that higher altitude.”

Cox said it was the first time she had heard of a winery customising a blend specifically to be consumed in an aircraft.

She said it was hoped The Duo would become an ongoing product as the demand for more customised products grew.

“We played around with a lot of different options to ensure the acid and texture balance was right. It was a great experience and we are confident the wine will deliver in both taste and aroma on the plane at altitude.”

“The on-board services team came over and did the blending with me and I think the plan is to do a blending session up in the air on a flight to Perth so we can get that in flight experience as well.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production and about 75 per cent of its premium wine.

The Barossa Valley produces world-renowned brands such as Penfolds Grange, Jacob’s Creek and Wolf Blass.

Virgin Australia’s General Manager In-flight Experience, Tash Tobias said the team was always searching for ways to deliver outstanding on board experiences.

“We are thrilled to bring the best of the Barossa to our guests travelling in Business Class and will continue to work with leading industry players to improve the in-flight experience,” Tobias said.

St Hallett_Bottle

This article first appeared in The Lead.

Travel bursaries available to wine industry

Wine Australia is inviting the Australian grape and wine community to apply for a travel and visiting scholar bursary by Friday 7 April 2017.

Applications are accepted for travel that commences between 1 July and 31 December 2017 and bursaries can fund travel, study tours or conferences to develop your professional knowledge and network with the international research community.

Opportunities are also available to bring international experts to Australia to participate in workshops, meetings, conferences, symposia or research projects through Wine Australia’s visiting scholar bursaries.

Wine Australia’s General Manager of Research, Development and Extension Dr Liz Waters says the bursaries provide a professional development opportunity and also encourage recipients to share the knowledge they gain with others in the grape and wine community.

“Participating in professional education programs and learning from others in the international research community is an important way to supplement existing research and develop the knowledge and skills of our sector,” she said.

“We see it as an equally important part of the experience that information gleaned by successful applicants is shared with the rest of our grape and wine community so that everyone can benefit from the latest wine sector R&D from across the world.

“Successful applicants for bursaries will be those who can highlight the opportunity for their own professional development, anticipated benefits for the sector and how the information will be widely disseminated.”

Each year, Wine Australia invests in travel bursaries and in visiting scholar bursaries with applications open every six months.

The application process gives preference to those who are currently making, or who are potentially able to make, a significant contribution to research and the travel must relate to their research interest and expertise.

Applicants are advised to consult the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Strategic Plan 2015–2020 and the guidelines for both the travel and scholar bursaries when developing their applications.

Australian wine industry ‘greats’ honoured in Adelaide

The outstanding achievements of three ‘greats’ of the Australian wine industry have been honoured at a special awards presentation held by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) in Adelaide last night.

James Halliday AM, Chris Hancock MW and Denis Horgan AM were named Life Members of the Australian Wine Industry.

Each of the recipients is a household name and their efforts in the nation’s vineyards, wineries, boardrooms and gracing the pages of the most discerning wine publications, have played a key role in creating a vibrant modern industry and brought Australian wines to the attention of consumers around the world.

“This coveted Life Member Award recognises outstanding leadership and contribution to the nation’s wine industry over and above an individual’s career achievements,” said WFA President Sandy Clark.

“Chris, Denis and James are worthy winners and take their place among other greats including Wolf Blass, d’Arry Osborn, Philip Laffer, John May, Terry Lee, Peter Barnes, Peter Wall and Bill Chambers. The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia is proud to administer this award”, he said.

Treasury Wine more than doubles first half profit

Treasury Wine Estates, maker of well-known brands like Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Wynns, has more than doubled its first half profit.

Announcing its interim 2017 financial result yesterday, the company said reported Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) for the period was $136.2m and Earnings Per Share (EPS) was 18.5 cents per share.

The good result reflects treasury’s purchase of Diageo assets in the US last year.

“I am delighted to report a strong interim 2017 financial result highlighted by further margin accretion, excellent cash conversion and outstanding EPS growth, despite the higher share base. All regions delivered double digit EBITS growth and importantly, growth was delivered sustainably,” commented TWE’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Clarke.

The company’s EBITS margin accretion was up 4.3ppts to 17.5% in 1H17 and up 2.5ppts relative to TWE’s F163 EBITS margin of 15.0%, which included 6 months of the Diageo Wine contribution.

The outlook for Treasury remains positive, with the company continuing to deliver against its strategy of transitioning from an agricultural to a brand-led, high performance organisation.

“Today’s result announcement demonstrates that we are executing on all the initiatives we have communicated to the market and importantly, that TWE is continuing to deliver sustainable value to its shareholders,” said Clarke.

Wine Australia renews partnership with Efic

Wine Australia has renewed its partnership agreement with Efic, Australia’s export credit agency.

The partnership aims to help Australian wine producers better understand how they can access the finance they need to maximise their export opportunities.

Efic provides a range of export finance solutions to Australian small and medium enterprise (SME) exporters and those in an export supply chain.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said, “With Australian wine exports and export opportunities on the rise in regions such as Northeast Asia, particularly China, it’s important that wine exporters are aware of all of their financing options.”

Under the renewed agreement, Wine Australia will continue to work with Efic to help Australian wine exporters learn how Efic’s range of loans and guarantees can help them to take advantage of new export opportunities.

“Australian wine exports play an important role in Australia’s trade. We’re pleased to continue to work with Wine Australia to ensure SME wine exporters get access to the finance they need when their bank is unable to help,” said Efic Managing Director and CEO Andrew Hunter.

Aussie winemaker opens door to Moroccan market

A celebrated Australian winemaker is breaking into the largely untapped North African market.

Coonawarra winemaker Gavin Hogg and his business partners have secured a licence to import alcohol into Morocco.

They have established a warehouse in Morocco and are working with two local distributors before sending the first shipment in March.

Hogg said the Hoggies Estate Wines shipment would be a range of wines from his three brands – Kopparossa, Hoggies and Olivia.

He said he and his colleagues had invested a lot of time and effort to procure a licence to import alcohol into Morocco.

“The first lot will be a container, which is 1000 cases and that will be mixed. It’ll be a bit of a scattergun approach to show everyone what’s there and then see how the market responds,” Hogg said.

“The current availability of wine is pretty limited – it’s French, French and French, so I just thought ‘this is another frontier’.”

Known as the Gateway to Africa, Morocco is part of a group of fast-growing nations described as “African Lions”.

The Australian Government announced in November it would establish an embassy in the Moroccan capital Rabat in late 2017 or early 2018 for the first time. Previously, the Australian Embassy in France was responsible for Morocco.

Morocco is an Islamic country of 35 million people and about 95 per cent of the population are Muslims.

img - Gavin Hogg_Tall

“It’s probably the most liberal Islamic country in the world – there are bars and hotels, liquor stores and there’s 10 million tourists that go into Morocco each year and 80 per cent of those drink,” Hogg, pictured, said.

“There’s probably about 10 million people in Morocco who are drinking at any one time so we tend to think if we can get five per cent of that market we’ll be going pretty well.

“We’ll establish our labels first and then there will be some people over there who say ‘I know of some other Australian wines, can you bring those in’ and we can act as a conduit.”

Hogg was one of the most senior winemakers at Mildara-Blass in the 1980s and ‘90s where his wines won dozens of Australian and international awards including the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy with Jamieson’s Run in 1989. He planted his own vineyard in the Coonawarra region of South Australia with his wife Julie in 1992.

Hogg released his first wines in 2000 and has gradually grown his range to about 20,000 cases a year – about half of which he exports to China and Japan.

“It’s just been puddling along until the last couple of years and now it’s really gaining traction,” he said.

“We are very wary of beating our drums because there’s been many times in this business when people’s expectations become distorted so you’ve got to keep your feet on the ground but you’ve also got to be alert to opportunities.

“The global market is so dynamic now it’s amazing. We deeply appreciate what Austrade have done for our collective businesses over the past decade and their offers of continued assistance while we establish our fledgling business.“

Australian wine is only currently exported to two of Africa’s 54 nations – South Africa and Nigeria.

According to the Organisation of Vine and Wine, Australia was the world’s fifth largest wine-producing nation in 2016 behind Italy, France, Spain and the United States.

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production.

Hogg said he was approached by two people – now his business partners – with strong contacts in Morocco about a year ago.

“They’d tasted our wines somewhere and they said ‘that’s what Moroccans like’ so we had a series of meetings and sent a lot of samples over,” he said.

“We decided to invest a lot of money into pursuing a licence, which we got in November.

“We’ll eventually take in all Australian products – ciders, beers, spirits and all things alcohol. It’s a fresh market and I’m absolutely positive it’s going to boom for us.

“Not only is there Morocco but there’s also along the whole northwestern side of Africa.”

Hogg and his partners have also been granted licences to import meat, honey and butter into Morocco.

The first shipment of a butter substitute product is due to leave Australia next month.

Villa Maria moves to direct distribution model in Australia

Villa Maria, New Zealand’s most awarded winery, has announced plans to establish its own Australian-based sales and distribution operation to continue to grow its presence in the market.

The family-owned winery made the decision following the acquisition of its distributor Fine Wine Partners by Accolade Wines, with the aim of creating greater flexibility for its marketing and distribution as well as getting closer to its customers.

 “Villa Maria has had a very successful relationship with Fine Wine Partners for the past 12 years,” said founder and owner Sir George Fistonich. “With their support, Villa Maria has become one of the largest New Zealand wine brands in Australia and has a very solid reputation, validated by many awards including Winestate’s New Zealand Winery of the Year, which we’ve won 15 out of 19 years.”

 The company currently has two wine brands active in Australia – Vidal and Villa Maria, and will assess future growth for the business once they’re firmly established in the market. In the interim, Villa Maria will take advantage of this unique opportunity to focus on the highly lauded Reserve and Single Vineyard wines – both for on and off premise.

  “We see the potential to grow significantly in Australia. Because we are focusing on a limited number of brands with different strategies, we can be very efficient and dedicated in all of our sales and marketing efforts. This is a huge opportunity to work more closely with our customers to ensure we are meeting their needs,” Sir George said.

 Villa Maria will commence its new operation from 1 March 2017. In the interim, it will be business as usual and Fine Wine Partners will continue to sell and distribute the Villa Maria range with no interruption of service to customers.

Australia’s finest wines achieve record value in 2016

Australian wine export value grew by 7 per cent to $2.22 billion in 2016 and average value grew by 6 per cent to $2.96 per litre free-on-board (FOB), the highest average value since 2009, according to the Wine Australia Export Report December 2016 released today.

This value growth was driven by bottled exports, particularly those at higher price points. Bottled exports grew by 10 per cent to $1.8 billion. The average value of bottled exports hit a calendar year record, up by 5 per cent to $5.48 per litre FOB.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said, “Last year, Australia’s most premium wines took centre stage. Our highest priced wines ($10 or more per litre FOB) achieved record value in 2016, up an impressive 19 per cent to $574 million. This increase was driven by demand across all of our major export markets but particularly in the Northeast Asia region.

“In another promising sign that we’re starting to see commercial benefits from an improved perception and increasing demand for our finest wines, the majority of Australian wine exporters (70 per cent) saw value growth in 2016.

“We are maintaining the momentum early in the year with some of our biggest annual events where we partner with many Australian wineries and exporters, including the Australia Day Tasting series in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland, trade tastings in the United States (US) and Canada, master classes across China, a significant Australian wine presence at ProWein in March and our major partnership with Tourism Australia for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, taking place in Melbourne in April.”

In 2016, bulk wine exports declined by 2 per cent to $400 million, soft-pack exports fell by 5 per cent to $14 million and exports in alternative packaging such as PETs decreased by 11 per cent to $4 million.

Exports priced $10 and more per litre FOB were up in all of Australia’s top five markets except Hong Kong ­– mainland China by 47 per cent, the US by 23 per cent, the UK by 25 per cent and Canada by 9 per cent. Hong Kong was down by 12 per cent.



Global wine supply balancing out: report

Global wine inventories have been trending downwards in recent years and, while some see this as a shift towards a supply shortage, Rabobank’s latest Global Wine Quarterly says it marks a continued move towards balance – albeit with variations in geography, varietal and price segments.

The report warns this move towards a more balanced supply could create challenges for certain wine-sourcing models, such asset-light business models in some regions.

“There is no doubt that asset-light sourcing models – where wine companies do not own/operate the key vineyard/winery assets required to supply their brands – can offer significant advantages for companies,” said Rabobank senior analyst Marc Soccio, “as they limit the amount of capital tied up, particularly in vineyard assets. However in light of declining global inventories, it is becoming increasingly important for wineries to have a realistic view of supply trends in order to secure their brands for the foreseeable future.”

The report says while the decline in inventories is a “phenomenon worth watching”, it can be partially attributed to short-term weather factor, as well as a conscious effort by the industry to bring supply more in line with consumption.

“Over the course of 2016 we saw the supply situation in the northern hemisphere start to tighten due to an unremarkable harvest in California and adverse weather across much of Europe,” Mr Soccio said, “with the 12 per cent drop in the French harvest behind much of the decline in global production.

“Meanwhile it was a mixed bag in the south, with production up in New Zealand and to a lesser extent Australia, while significant declines were reported in Chile and Argentina.”

For Australia: The value of Australian exports were up strongly in the first 10 months of 2016 (+7.3 per cent) largely to the ‘premiumisation’ trend in the US market, while export volumes were down slightly (-0.6 per cent) with strong growth in the Chinese market not enough to offset significant declines to the US, UK, Germany and Japan.

New app to measure water stress of grapevines

A new smartphone app that helps grape growers measure the water status of their vines is being trialed across Australia.

The portable viticultural tool has the potential to help grape growers make improved water management decisions for their vineyards.

Grape growers use a thermal camera attached to their smartphone to take images of the canopy of the grapevine. The image is analysed by the app, which calculates the vine water status.

The technology is being tested by 15 vineyards in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania for the rest of the growing season.

The Wine Australia-funded project is being led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA, in close collaboration with The University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Dr Kathy Ophel-Keller, Acting Executive Director of SARDI said, “Water and associated pumping costs can be a significant component of the production costs for grape growers.

“Uncontrolled water stress has the potential to reduce the yield and quality of grapes and the resulting wine, which in turn reduces the return to growers.

“The management of vine water status is a key tool for grape growers to regulate yield and optimise fruit quality and style.

“This new app offers grape growers instant feedback on the water status of their vines, and provides them with the flexibility to assess multiple blocks or sections of blocks, and to make irrigation decisions in real time.”

Dr Liz Waters, General Manager of Research, Development and Extension at Wine Australia said, “Irrigating effectively and efficiently helps to optimise vineyard production to produce high-quality wine grapes for fine Australian wines.

“Through many years of extensive research, methods have been developed to assess grapevine water status. This new app provides a portable solution to measure water status quickly and easily in the vineyard.

“‘The app allows growers to make informed irrigation decisions that support the production of high-quality fruit grown to specification.”

Putting the focus back on Australian Sauvignon Blanc

For almost eight years, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has dominated the Australian white wine market, leaving local winemakers searching for a way to dethrone the top-selling Kiwi brands.  For Burch Family Wines, this means adjusting the production techniques used on their Margaret River and Great Southern vineyards.

Natalie Burch, Operations Manager and Director for Howard Park Wines, says that the key to creating a worthy opponent to our rival across the Tasman isn’t in imitation, but distinction.

“[NZ Sauvignon Blanc has] been very successful, but it’s not something Australia could replicate because we aren’t New Zealand,” said Burch. “So producers, like ourselves, who have Sauvignon Blanc planted have looked at how to differentiate ourselves and make the wines more interesting to drink.”

The aim for Burch Family Wines is to create a drink that hits the mark in its own right and is known for its exceptional quality and food friendliness. In this attempt to contrast the much-loved New Zealand varietal, they have carefully applied innovative techniques to their winemaking process.

“The main difference is oak,” explained Burch. “We tend to do a little barrel fermentation in French oak or extended lees/skin contact. It softens the fruit acidity of the wine a little and adds more richness and complexity.”

Demand for Australian-made Sauvignon Blanc has gone up in recent years, despite the fact that they often come with a higher price tag. This can be due, in part, to their distinctive flavours, richness and complexity, which makes them well worth the price.

As Australian winemakers become more eager to reclaim the white wine market, innovation will undoubtedly follow. This commitment to bettering the much-loved varietal demonstrates how wine drinkers can benefit from the ever-evolving nature of the industry.

“It’s a very exciting time in the industry; overall, the wines Australia are making now are better than we’ve ever made before because it is hypercompetitive,” said Burch. “There’s so much to try and enjoy. It’s a great time to be an Australian wine drinker.”

Blue wine gets thumbs down from Spanish authorities

Spanish authorities have told the makers of a beverage containing wine and blue food colouring that they are not permitted to market it as ‘Blue Wine’.

The beverage, called Gik, contains a blend of red and white wine as well as anthocyanin from the skin of red grapes and an organic pigment, indigotine which give it its blue colour.

According to the Local, the ruling was made on the grounds that wine has traditionally been red, white or Rose. There is no history of blue wine.

In an online petition against the ruling, the beverage makers complained that they now have to market the beverage in the “Other alcoholic drinks” category.

“This is unfair for all you who trust us, because you have the right to enjoy the original product; and it is absurd too, as its composition is 100 per cent wine,” the petition said.

“We had to change the composition to 99 per cent wine and 1 per cent grape to adapt the product to the current legislation.”

Treasury Wine wins Penfolds trademark case in China


Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has won the right to use the trademark “Ben Fu”, a transliteration of the word Penfolds, for use in China.

As Reuters reports, an individual in China had registered the trade mark in 2009. However, Beijing High People’s Court has now found that this person did not have any genuine use for the trademark in the wine industry or for related activities.

“This trademark will subsequently be cancelled, allowing for TWE to claim its right to ownership of the Ben Fu trademark registration and to freely use this trademark across China,” TWE said in a statement.

Treasury Wine’s managing director for Asia and Europe, Robert Foye welcomed the decision.

“Ben Fu is the most widely recognised wine brand in China,” Foye said.

“We have never wavered in our commitment to defend our position as the rightful owner of the Ben Fu trademark in China, and we are absolutely thrilled with this decision.”


Cellar doors drive boutique winery growth in Australia

Cellar door and mail order sales are driving strong growth for small wineries, the latest survey results published by Wine Australia has found.

The trend is helping producers with estimated annual crushes of less than 500 tonnes make inroads into a market dominated by huge wine companies in recent decades.

Small winemaking businesses generated $1.1 billion in wine sales revenue in 2015–16, an average increase of 12 per cent, according to the Small Winemaker Production and Sales Survey 2016 released this week by Wine Australia in South Australia.

While retailers and wholesalers generated 47 per cent of income for small producers, cellar doors have become increasingly important sales channels, accounting for 29 per cent of domestic sales. Cellar door and mail order channels showed the largest growth, both increasing by 7 per cent for the 12-month period.

Barossa Valley producer Whistler Wines crushes about 100 tonnes a year, producing about 6000 cases. It relies on about 10 food and music themed events a year in its native Australian bush setting coupled with regular cellar door traffic to attract visitors.

Owner, grape grower and winemaker Josh Pfeiffer said using winery events and the cellar door to reach new customers and build a database of clients was crucial.

He said being able to offer something different that wasn’t widely available elsewhere and reflected the provenance of the region appealed to visitors.

“We get people coming in here every day saying they are only interested in coming to small independent wineries – they want to meet the people behind the wine and learn something,” he said.

“That’s translating across the trade as well, where wine buyers from restaurants and hotels are wanting independent, smaller brands on their lists and customers of theirs are requesting that as well.

“It’s the same in retail too with the smaller independent bottle shops.”

According to the Wine Australia report, small wineries only exported about 12 per cent of their wine, which is consistent with Whistler Wines’ experience, while exports made up more than 60 per cent of Australian wine sales industry wide.

Pfeiffer said once people had visited the Barossa cellar door they were encouraged to join the 10,000-strong mailing list where they were given access to online specials.

“For us it’s about getting people here and then keeping them here for long enough for them to remember us and want to come back,” he said.

“We do 70 per cent of our sales direct to customers and that’s one of the only reasons we are able to survive.

“If we were giving away 35 per cent to distributors or selling wholesale then all of a sudden you’re not making the margin that you need to make.”

Association of Australian Boutique Winemakers CEO Judith Kennedy said cellar door and mail order sales helped small wine companies maintain margins and bypassed the challenges some faced of securing distribution in major cities.

She said the ability to value add to a wine business through gift sales, accommodation and eateries attached to cellar doors also provided opportunities for new revenue streams.

“It can take a long time for a little wine company to become profitable but cellar doors are certainly part of the answer,” Kennedy said.

“People love the experience of actually being there, talking with the winemaker if they’re lucky and talking with the people who have had hands on experience with the wine.

“The cellar door industry in general is more buoyant now than ever.”

Research released in 2015 by the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg Bass Institute found that a visit to a winery’s cellar door had a lasting effect on consumer behaviour, influencing their buying habits for months afterwards.

“If they like the wine and they’re OK with the price then they’ll join the mailing list and they’ll buy the wine on a regular basis,” Kennedy said.

“As their volumes increase and they have a few good harvests they put the money into improving their cellar doors.

“Sometimes you’ll find tremendously humble little cellar doors and you go back there five years later and they’ve got this beautiful establishment and a line of people going out the door.”

The 223 survey responses from Australian small wine businesses also found:

Production was up 7 per cent, with the highest average growth in wineries that produce 70,001–170,000 litres (8000–20,000 cases) (up 11 per cent).

Average revenue growth was 12 per cent in 2015–16.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of the wineries surveyed make all of their wine in their own facilities.

On average, two-thirds of grapes used by small wineries were grown in their own vineyards.

South Australia produced 51 per cent of the nation’s crush in 2016 and about 75 per cent of Australia’s premium wine from some of the oldest vines in the world.

Its 18 regions include the Barossa Valley, which is home to iconic brands such as Penfolds Grange, Jacob’s Creek and Wolf Blass.


This article first appeared on The Lead.

Wine makers looking overseas as Aussies drinking less

A recent report by IBISWorld reveals that in 2016-17, domestic consumption of alcohol per capita is expected to reach the lowest level of the past 50 years.

This is part of a trend of consistently declining alcohol consumption that has played out over the past decade. Beer brewers have struggled, with negligible export exposure forcing them to rely on limited domestic demand. Meanwhile, many wine makers have found new growth as export demand for Australian wines booms, particularly in Asian markets.

Declining Consumption

IBISWorld expects per capita alcohol consumption will decrease by 0.8% over 2016-17, to 9.37 litres per capita. This trend is forecast to continue, with alcohol consumption in Australia expected to fall to 8.54 litres per capita by 2023-24, down from 10.57 litres in 1990-91.

“Domestic per capita consumption of beer, wine and spirits has slumped to a 55 year low, largely as a result of government legislation and increasing health consciousness among consumers,” said Mr Andrew Ledovskikh, IBISWorld Senior Industry Analyst.

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Wine exports boom

According to IBISWorld, export markets represent the largest market for wine makers, and are expected to account for 41.5% of industry revenue in 2016-17, totalling $2.5 billion. Domestic wholesale wine merchants represent the second largest market for wine makers, and are expected to account for 27.5% of industry revenue in 2016-17.

“Rising exports to Asia are anticipated to drive export growth over the next five years. Free trade agreements signed with Japan, South Korea and China in 2014 and 2015 are expected to lead to new growth in Asian export markets, as Australian wines become more competitive,” said Mr Ledovskikh.

“Rising middle class incomes in China are also expected to contribute to strong demand growth over the next five years. As a result, China is anticipated to overtake the United States as the largest importer of Australian wine,” added Mr Ledovskikh. “Despite declines in per capita wine consumption, the wine production industry is expected to increase by an annualised 2.3% over the five years through 2016-17. Strong demand growth from Asia is improving world prices and easing global oversupply issues, which have plagued the industry over the past decade.”

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Beer market

The Beer Manufacturing industry is expected to decline by an annualised 0.7% over the five years through 2016-17. The domestic consumption of beer has been hit hard by increasing health consciousness among consumers. Traditionally staple brands, such as VB, are declining rapidly in popularity, proving a major challenge for local beer manufacturers looking for growth.

“Unlike the Wine Production industry, local beer brewers produce almost exclusively for the domestic market. This has compounded the effect of declining alcohol consumption for brewing companies,” said Mr Ledovskikh.

As most of the large Australian beer brewers are owned by foreign multinationals, which have extensive worldwide production and distribution facilities, there is little incentive for these companies to produce locally for export. Most exported brands are actually produced under contract in the destination country, rather than physically shipped overseas.

Crafting a future

One silver lining for the Beer Manufacturing industry has been growing demand for craft beer. Craft breweries have popped up around the country at a rapid pace. In 2011-12, there were just over 140 craft brewers in Australia. In 2016-17, there are expected to be almost 300.

The Craft Beer Production industry is expected to grow by an annualised 11.7% over the five years through 2016-17, to $454.2 million. This strong performance has helped offset some of the declines in the consumption of traditional mainstream beer brands.

Export demand for craft beer is a potentially lucrative market, although it is not without challenges. Exporting bottled beers tends to be expensive, and the transport process can harm the quality of the product. Some local producers, such as Australian Brewery, have switched to canned craft beer products to help tap into export markets.

Craft beer batches also tend to be small, making efficient transport difficult. This will likely drive craft brewers to create export groups among themselves, using export agents to consolidate shipments and reduce per unit costs.