solar power

Dan Murphy’s celebrates solar power success

In a celebration of their ongoing commitment to sustainability and the use of solar power in their operations, a Dan Murphy’s store in Adelaide has installed a new logo on the roof of the building captioned, “Our drinks are now cooled by the sun.”  Read more

Deep Planet

Deep Planet selects the Barossa for initial investment

Deep Planet continues to evolve the international grape and wine industry through remote sensing and AI technology, but you won’t find its Australian head office in a city high rise. Instead, this global start-up has selected the Barossa in regional South Australia for its initial investment in Australia, this month appointing four positions with plans to expand further.  Read more

Winners of SA Food and Beverage Industry Awards announced

Businesses producing premium food and beverages that have become synonymous with South Australia’s international reputation were among the winners announced at the 2020 South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards Gala Dinner at the Adelaide Convention Centre tonight.

Winners included quiet achievers such as Dinko Tuna Farmers and Lifestyle Bakery, and consumer favourites Alexandrina Cheese Company and Robern Menz.

The 2020 inductee into the Awards Hall of Fame is Mitolo Family Farms, who specialise in combining traditional farming techniques with the very latest technology, and have been supplying quality produce to Australian families for almost half a century.

This year’s Leader Award was presented to Michael Horrocks of Lifestyle Bakery in recognition of his innovative leadership in developing the gluten free bakery sector, while the Next Generation Award, created to recognise an up and coming industry professional, was awarded to Kieran Donoghue of Safcol Australia.

The Emerging Business Award went to Never Never Distilling Co, makers of Australia’s very first Grenache gin, while Golden North’s Simply Indulge range of ice cream and Goolwa PipiCo’s Whole Clam Chowder won New Product Awards this year.

“When we launched the 2020 South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards, we already knew this year’s theme of Sharing our Stories was very appropriate,” says Food South Australia CEO Catherine Sayer.

“As everyone has been saying all year, none of us expected what 2020 has served to us, so it has been especially inspiring to learn the stories behind the winning businesses in this year’s awards,” Ms Sayer said.

“The challenges of 2020 aren’t the first obstacles many of our winners have overcome, but in this new COVID-normal world, the grit and resilience of an industry that is so important to South Australia’s economic wellbeing is being celebrated tonight.”

Interest in the awards program and in South Australian products has continued to grow this year, with a 15% increase in entries and over 11,000 consumers voting for their favourite business for the Consumer Award.

“The South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards program has showcased innovation and excellence in our industry for more than 20 years. These are the businesses that have helped drive growth for the sector, created brands known across Australia and internationally, and helped build our state’s reputation for premium products across the globe,” said Ms Sayer.

“One of the key benefits of this awards program is that winners and finalists can use this recognition as evidence of excellence for new customers and in new markets,” she said.

The Premier of South Australia, the Hon Steven Marshall MP said he is proud to present the winners of the South Australian Premier’s Food and Beverage Industry Awards.  

“Congratulations to the food and beverage industry whose hard work and innovation is recognised through these awards,” the Premier said.

“The sector has grown in 2020, even through the difficult year that we have endured. The sector is characterised by excellence in food and beverage production, manufacturing and marketing to ensure that South Australian products are rewarded by more than their fair share of the retail and food service market,” he said

2020 Winners

Hall of Fame, sponsored by San Remo
2020 Inductee: Mitolo Family Farms

Business Excellence Award, sponsored by Visy
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Goolwa PipiCo
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Sundrop Farms

Emerging Business Award, sponsored by Department for Trade and Investment
Winner – Never Never Distilling Co

Export Award, sponsored by Department for Trade and Investment
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Dinko Tuna Farmers
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Yumbah Aquaculture

Innovation in Business Award, sponsored by Department for Trade and Investment
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Dinko Tuna Farmers
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Team Unico

Innovation in Food or Beverage Award, sponsored by Food Processing Equipment
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: All The Things
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Lifestyle Bakery

New Product Award, sponsored by Foodland Supermarkets
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Goolwa PipiCo (Whole Clam Chowder)
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Golden North Ice Cream (Simply Indulge range)

Primary Producer Award, sponsored by Thomas Foods International
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: feather&PECK – pastured eggs
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Fleurieu Milk Company

Sustainability Award, sponsored by Peats Soils & Garden Supplies
Winner – Sundrop Farms

Leader Award, sponsored by Bickford’s Group
Winner -Michael Horrocks, Lifestyle Bakery

Next Generation Award, sponsored by Macro Group Australia
Winner – Kieran Donoghue, Safcol Australia

Consumer Award, sponsored by Statewide Super
Winner – Businesses with up to 15 FTEs: Alexandrina Cheese Company
Winner – Businesses with more than 15 FTEs: Robern Menz

Australian wine company growing export sales

While many areas of Australia’s economy are struggling under the weight of COVID, one local business is pushing forward with export growth across Europe and Canada.
Headquartered in McLaren Vale, Leconfield Wines is Australia’s oldest family-owned winemaking business. Owned by Dr Richard Hamilton and his wife, Jette, Hamilton is a fifth generation descendant of Richard Hamilton 1st who planted South Australia’s first wine producing vineyards in 1837. Leconfield Wines takes in Leconfield Wines in Coonawarra and Richard Hamilton Wines in McLaren Vale. Its brands include Leconfield, Richard Hamilton Wines and Syn Sparkling Wines.
Leconfield has a history of producing top-quality, award-winning wines. Its wines are sold across Australia, overseas and also served aboard Jetstar business class and on Great Southern Rail trains including The Ghan, Indian Pacific, Great Southern and The Overland.
“COVID has been challenging for us. As winemakers that sell our products direct to consumers through our membership and into restaurants and other hospitality outlets across the country, sales have been hit through the closure of venues.  The latest lock down in Victoria is particularly challenging,” Hamilton said.
“We have also experienced mixed results overseas with some markets including China reducing spend.
“However in the face of this, we have also risen to the challenge. We have restructured to focus on building collaborative partnerships and foster growth in other overseas markets, and these strategies are already starting to yield great results.
“Damian White has been appointed to the newly created role of Sales and Marketing Director.  He is firmly focused on expansion of our international market, alongside our valued domestic and online platform partners.  Christine Says has been appointed to the role of CFO to help manage the complexities of our burgeoning overseas markets to ensure strong growth and firm cost control.
“The recent decision by Canada to remove tariffs on the import of Australian wines has also opened up new opportunities for us too.”
Leconfield has been approved for distribution and sale in three Canadian provinces:  Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec.
“We are extremely excited about this and are looking to augment our presence to other provinces as well,” Hamilton added.
“In addition to Canada, we have secured new opportunities in Finland and Belgium. In Belgium, we have partnered with Belgian food retailer, Delhaize, to supply a private label Coonawarra Shiraz under the name of Dalebrook Farm. We are already in talks regarding line extensions. This opportunity and various other emerging ones are really proving very positive for us moving forward.
“Our senior winemaker, Paul Gordon is doing an excellent job of creating new and exciting wines from our vineyards. His ability to craft, blend and perfect is delivering superb results for us and really bolstering our ability to continually impress the market with wonderful wines.
“Kate Mooney, our marketing and events manager, who has been with us for nearly seven years, is hard at work refreshing and developing our labels and packaging to ensure we stand out on shelves, catalogues and online sites.
“Despite the challenges we are facing here at home, we are determined to achieve growth. We’ve been through droughts, the Spanish Flu, world wards, the great depression, recessions, the GFC and now COVID.  You could say ‘we are battle hardened’ and we are not about to let a virus dampen our prospects. We are all in this together, and certainly at Leconfield Wines, we are determined to get through to the other side.
“We are very lucky.  At the end of the day, we can sit back and relax with a good drop.  One of the benefits of winemaking.”

Oldest city vineyard defies urban squeeze to produce top drop

A city-based winery in South Australia has renewed its agreement to produce wine from the world’s oldest commercial urban vineyard.

Planted in 1907, the 1-hectare Marion Vineyard is surrounded by housing and a public swimming pool in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, a city of 1.4 million people.

But its grapes are not feeling the squeeze of city living with the past four vintages of the Patritti Marion Vineyard Grenache Shiraz awarded 96 of a possible 100 points by Australia’s leading wine critic James Halliday.

Established in 1926, Patritti Wines is the last remaining family-owned suburban winery in Adelaide. It is about 4km south of the council-owned Marion Vineyard, which it has managed since 2006.

The vineyard produces around 3000 bottles of the grenache shiraz blend each year. About 1000 litres of fortified wine has also been produced from fruit grown on the block each year since 2006 but this is unlikely to be released until it has been aged for 15 years and reaches ‘rare’ status.

“We’ve been very fortunate to work with a council that’s committed keeping the site and understanding its heritage value but it’s a labour of love,” says Patritti’s managing director Ines Patritti.

“We’re delighted to be part of its journey and it’s also lovely to see how the community has come on board with it – they are very much the vineyard protectors and they let us know when people are in there for any reason.

Since managing the vineyard, Patritti’s winemakers, James Mungall and Ben Heide have passionately worked with projects manager Matthew Mungall to reinvigorate old grenache and shiraz vines, improving the quality of fruit they produce.

The Marion Vineyard is one of only a few commercial urban vineyards left in the world and is claimed to be the oldest as South Australia was one of the few wine producing areas not to be affected by the global phylloxera outbreak that ravaged vineyards around the world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Patritti recently won the tender to manage the vineyard for another five years.

Under this latest agreement, viticulturists from its two McLaren Vale vineyards will also take on the management of two other local vineyards on land owned by the City of Marion. The first is about 0.6ha (1.5 acres) behind the Oaklands Wetland and is planted with bush vine Muscat grapes while the second vineyard is in an area known as Laffer’s Triangle and contains about 0.4ha (1 acre) of Pedro Ximenez and Doradillo vines.

Marion Council has committed to connecting each of the vineyard sites to irrigation, ensuring the longevity of the vines and their continued productivity during low rainfall seasons. Patritti will perform a significant rejuvenation project at each site, reinvigorating underperforming vines, planting cutting material to replace dead vines and improve the aesthetic appearance of the vineyards.

Each vineyard will remain open to the public, with the fruit for Patritti’s exclusive use.

Ms Patritti says the goal is to produce a single vineyard product from each of the vineyards when volumes and quality allow.

It’s a passion – I’m very keen on the history of the area and a lot of young people don’t realise how much the area has changed.

“When I was growing up this area was dairy farms, vineyards and almond orchards.

“People ask ‘why would you build a winery here?’ because they don’t understand that when we first started the area was surrounded by vineyards.”

The Marion area is about 12km south of the centre of Adelaide and 10km north of Reynella, where John Reynell produced one of Australia’s first wine vintages in 1842.

Many of the vineyards in the Marion area originally produced table grapes. However, much of the wine producing blocks, including the Marion Vineyard, were owned by Frank Hamilton as part of the early vine planting’s of the then FE Hamilton & Sons Winery & Distillery.

The Hamilton family sold their vineyards in the area from the 1950s through to the 1970s to make way for suburban sprawl.

Descendants of Frank Hamilton are still involved in the South Australian wine industry including Richard Hamilton of Leconfield Wines, which managed the Marion Vineyard for the City of Marion from the early 1990s until 2005.

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 total annual production and about 75 per cent of its premium wine.

Vinegar project helps Aussie farmer out of a fig jam

A Kangaroo Island farmer with more fresh figs than he can deal with is preparing for the commercial launch of Australia’s first genuine fig vinegar.

Dan Pattingale is on track to pick almost 15 tonnes of figs from about 300 trees in his Stokes Bay orchard this season – double the 7 tonnes harvested from the seven-year-old trees last year.

He is using at least five tonnes of the excess figs to make fig wine before turning it into fig wine vinegar, which he says will be an Australian and possibly a world first.

Pattingale said there were a few other fig vinegars on the market but they were grape vinegars infused with figs.

“But what I’m doing is making wine from the figs and then making vinegar from that so it’s going to be the genuine article rather than just an infusion,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say it reminds me of figs but it’s certainly a very fruity vinegar with a nice pale pink colour. It’s expensive to make it because the fruit is all hand harvested so it’s going to be a special vinegar for salads and dressings mainly.

“It’s going to be a gourmet product and I’ll have to aim it at that market but I’m the only one making it in Australia – possibly the world – so I think there are enough people out there who want to try it at least so I’m pretty confident.”

Pattingale and wife Sue started out as olive growers on Kangaroo Island in the mid-1990s but switched the focus of their business to figs about five years ago. The Figgery, now sells its preserved Sticky Figs and Sticky Fig Syrup through 60 retailers on Kangaroo Island and across South Australia.

A $34,000 grant last year through the South Australian Government’s Advanced Food Manufacturing Grants Program allowed Pattingale to enlist the help of researchers from the South Australia Research and Development Institute (SARDI) and University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus to delve into the science of fig wine and vinegar making.

The vinegar project has coincided with a bumper 2019 fig harvest that began in late February and is expected to continue until mid May.

“It’s about a 100 per cent increase on last year and we were totally unprepared for it so it’s been a bit frantic,” Pattingale said.

“We’ve picked about 11 tonne now and we’ve still got a month to go.

“I’ll probably do about five tonne in sticky figs and the rest of it is going into the vinegar project.”

The cooking, drying and packing of the Sticky Figs and its bi-product Sticky Fig Syrup is all done on the farm, which still produces a small amount of olive oil.

Some of his olive processing equipment is also being used to press crush the figs during the winemaking process.

Pattingale only has the capacity to cook 150kg of fresh figs a day, causing a massive overrun during peak picking times when up to 600kg of fruit is harvested in a single day.

“I’ve bought a walk-in freezer which I’ve got 2.5 tonne in and I can’t fit any more figs in so I’ve had to start making the wine using the freshly picked figs,” he said.

“The wine I’m making now is quite a lot better than the early samples but the vinegar is the goal, there’s no doubt about that.

“We’re at the point where we know what we’re doing but we’ve just used the last few trials to iron it out a bit.

“Once the rush is over then we can start converting the wine into vinegar and I’m expecting to start making commercial vinegar in the next month.”

That process will involve building a bioreactor on the farm to convert the wine into vinegar. The conversion is done by introducing acetic acid bacteria and oxygen to the wine. The bacteria will consume the ethanol and convert it into acetic acid.

Pattingale said his fig wine had an alcohol volume of about 10 per cent and estimated he would end up with about 5000-litres of vinegar this year.

“It won’t take long to produce the vinegar so really it’s just a matter of packaging it and getting it out there and I think I‘ll be able to introduce it into all of my current outlets without any trouble,” he said.

“At this stage I still don’t have a product – I’ve got the wine so I’ve made a start – but until we set up the bioreactor and produce the vinegar I’m still guessing a bit so as far as final volumes go we just don’t really know yet.”

The vinegar is likely to be sold in 250ml bottles.

The Pattingales are aiming to launch their vinegar at the Kangaroo Island stall in the Adelaide Central Market in July and expect it to have national distribution.

The massive over supply of figs at the moment has forced the winemaking part of the operation into full swing. Pattingale said making the wine was a fairly simple process of crushing the fruit, adding the wine yeast and allowing it to ferment for three or four days before pressing out the wine.

“The wine I’m producing actually tastes better than the initial small sample of wine I tasted from the University of Adelaide and it does have quite a warming effect so I have to make sure I don’t try too much of it.

“I might keep a few bottles of the wine back for myself but at this stage I still think I’m better off to produce vinegar.”

Kangaroo Island is about 150km southwest of Adelaide, the South Australian capital, and is Australia’s third biggest offshore island behind Tasmania and Melville Island.

It has long been regarded as one of the world’s most pristine natural environments and is also known for its premium food and abundant wildlife.

The fig trees at the Stokes Bay orchard are all sourced from a 140-year-old tree still growing strongly at Snelling Beach about 15km west along Kangaroo Island’s North Coast Road.

Pattingale said the island’s north coast had proven an ideal place to grow figs.

“It’s definitely the sunny side of the street and we’re close to the coast.

“We’re right at the end of the Cygnet River Valley, which is relatively fertile soil for Kangaroo Island.

“We produce some great food over here but it’s not enough to say that you are from Kangaroo Island, you still have to produce a great product and that’s really important as that keeps the reputation up and it’s good for everyone then.”

AI diagnostics tool to help identify fruit fly gender

A South Australian company has developed an AI diagnostics tool that combines a microscope and smartphone to deliver agtech solutions.

Created by GoMicro, the microscope has previously been used in a kit to diagnose leishmaniasis in war-torn nations as well as in schools as a teaching tool. But it is now being tested as one part of an AI diagnostic package to identify anything that is visible but requires magnification.

The Adelaide-based company, which was spun out of the New Venture Institute at Flinders University , is looking to raise funds to commercialise the system, which has numerous potential applications across all industries.

Professor Rob Lewis, a company adviser and former head of the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), said the GoMicro platform was an example of the successful integration of key technologies such as mobile, microscopy, machine learning and interpretive data analyses.

“This is the front end of a developing machine learning diagnostics system with multiple uses,” he said.

GoMicro CEO Sivam Krish said the company was in the midst of proving the concept by identifying Queensland fruit flies, a pest that threatens South Australia’s $1.25 billion horticulture industry.

Through SARDI, Krish distributed 200 microscopes to farmers in South Australia and used the images they sent back to create a database for the machine-learning engine to compare.

Krish said the key achievement was the ability for the device to create consistent laboratory conditions in the field by simply placing the specimen in the high-quality imaging microscope attachment.

The quality of the images, according to Krish, significantly reduced the number of images the AI engine needed to achieve 90 per cent accuracy in tests to determine if a fly was male or female, which enables scientists to track breeding.

“We created the entire database in a day because of the imaging device and training methods, so we can race through samples,” he said.

“The potential is for anything that is visible that requires some level of magnification, such as soil or sand in mining or leaf disease in agriculture.”

Krish said testing was underway on cloud and app interfaces as potential methods to share the field data with the AI engine and provide users with advice and solutions to their pest problems.

GoMicro uses advanced manufacturing technologies to prototype and manufacture the microscopes and the Tensorflow AI-engine developed by Google to make predictions.

“The platform is also an excellent teaching aid aimed at Australia’s future researchers, farmers and those wishing to find out more about the natural environment,” Professor Lewis said.