Riverland wine centre project begins to take shape

Australia’s largest wine region is a step closer to getting a dedicated wine and food centre to showcase its produce and drive tourism.

The Riverland is responsible for more than a quarter of Australia’s annual wine grape production. It is also a globally significant producer of citrus, stone fruits and almonds.

However, compared to other regions, the number of growers and volume of production has not yet translated into winery and cellar door equivalents. For example, fellow South Australian wine region the Barossa Valley has 738 grape growers compared with the Riverland’s 980 but it is home to 219 wineries and 88 cellar doors compared with just 55 wineries and 12 cellar doors in the Riverland.

The South Australian Government has pledged an initial $200,000 to develop a business case and detailed plans for a dedicated wine and food centre in the Riverland to help address the imbalance.

It released a discussion paper on the proposed centre last week and has given the local community and industry until the end of February to provide submissions.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone, said community input would help shape the vision for the Wine and Food Centre.

“The Riverland is a vital food bowl for South Australia and this is a great opportunity to capitalise on the region’s growing reputation for producing premium beverages and food,” he said.

“Being able to showcase the region’s strengths in a dedicated centre would be a big drawcard for tourists to the region and provide greater economic support.”

The Riverland is about 240km northeast of the South Australian capital Adelaide and includes the River Murray towns of Berri, Renmark, Loxton, Barmera and Waikerie.

It is yet to be decided in which town the wine centre would be located or if it would be in a purpose built or refurbished facility.

The discussion paper says potential functions of the centre include providing an outlet for local wineries that do not have a cellar door, giving visitors an opportunity to experience a “taste of the Riverland” and showcasing the region’s premium wine, food, beer, spirits and cider.

However, it also says the centre should provide non-exclusive access and be commercially sustainable in the absence of ongoing government support.

“The discussion paper is quite broad as it is important the community provides extensive feedback which will ultimately drive the concept of the centre,” Minister Whetstone, who is also the Member for the Riverland seat of Chaffey, said.

According to Wine Australia, 447,410 tonnes of wine grapes were crushed in the Riverland in the 2018 vintage, almost 30 per cent of the Australian harvest of 1.52 million tonnes. Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are the main varieties grown

As well as being Australia’s largest growing region, the Riverland has been a pioneer of viticulture irrigation technology. Riverland Wine last year also partnered with the University of Adelaide, Wine Australia and the South Australian Government to create a Digital Vineyard Guidance System – a platform to filter data collected from a suite of remote sensors to improve vineyard efficiency.

“The Riverland has some wonderful success stories in the food and beverage industries and I envisage this centre will provide an opportunity to celebrate not only these stories, but the region as a whole,” Minister Whetstone said.

“This is an opportunity to continue to drive market growth and consumer awareness by enhancing the profile and reputation of the Riverland.

“I encourage all interested stakeholders, including wine, food and tourism businesses, industry associations, local government and community representatives and interested members of the public to get involved and provide feedback.”

South Australia is responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual wine production and 75 per cent of the nation’s premium wine. It is also the home of world-renowned brands such as Penfolds, Hardys, Wolf Blass and Jacob’s Creek.

Premium wine business course to be launched at Vinexpo

Two of the world’s great wine regions have come together to offer a high-end business course spanning two continents.

The 10-day Business of Wine course will give industry professionals access to some of the leading minds in Adelaide, Australia, and Bordeaux, France.

The course is the result of collaboration between renowned wine industry educators the University of Adelaide and the KEDGE Wine and Spirits Academy in Bordeaux.

The 10-day course was launched today, 29 May, at the Vinexpo in Hong Kong.

Course participants will spend five days in each region where they will be given exclusive access to vineyard tours and master classes led by chief winemakers. Alongside this, a tailored academic program will cover subjects such as research and development, global market insights, wine marketing, and consumer behaviour.

Bordeaux is probably the most famous wine region in the world while Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, is within an hour’s drive of globally renowned regions Barossa, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills.

Adelaide joined Bordeaux as a Great Wine Capital in 2016.

“This unique and immersive program has been designed to allow people from all over the world to learn from the experiences of experts from two of the world’s greatest wine regions,” said University of Adelaide Wine Business Program Director Marni Ladd.

“Participants will learn from the best academics and business leaders not just about the science of wine, but also about future challenges in the wine business.”

The program is a direct result of a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Adelaide Business School and KEDGE Business School last year.

KEDGE Wine and Spirits Academy Director Professor Jacques-Olivier Pesme said France and Australia’s winemaking histories and experiences were different but very complimentary.

“As such, the experiences, practices, and technologies of these two regions provide different perspectives which are among the most successful ones in the world of wine,” he said.

“This polarity is what make this program so unique; a truly holistic learning experience.”

Australia is the world’s fifth largest wine producer and the second largest exporter to China, behind France. South Australia produces about 50 per cent of Australia’s wine and is home to leading brands including Penfolds, Jacob’s Creek, Hardys Wines and Wolf Blass.

Expressions of interest are being sought for the inaugural course, which will likely be held in Adelaide in November 2018 and Bordeaux in May 2019.

The new course was launched at a Vinexpo event attended by wine business leaders, industry bodies, dignitaries and the Great Wine Capitals Global Network community.

Vinexpo Hong Kong 2018, involving the participation of both the University of Adelaide and KEDGE, is the most influential wine and spirits trade fair in Asia. This year, the fair celebrates Australia as the ‘Country of Honour’.

Speaking at Vinexpo, Australian Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston said the course would take advantage of existing and emerging market opportunities.

“Australian wine producers have never been so connected with the world as the global demand for our wine only grows,” Senator Ruston said.

Foodbank and Coles fight food shortages in South Australia

Coles and Foodbank have begun a new campaign to enable poor local families to be assisted by shoppers in South Australia.

Customers will have the opportunity to buy food donation cards with values of $5, $10 or $20 at Coles supermarkets, which will fund much needed food items for Foodbank’s warehouses and food hubs.

Providing more than four million meals annually through a large network of charity partners as well as school breakfast clubs in South Australia, Foodbank is the s largest food relief organisation in the country.

According to Foodbank SA Chief Executive Officer Greg Pattinson, more than 3,000 children miss out on Foodbank’s services every month.

“It’s not just traditionally vulnerable people they’ll be helping, but low income families doing it tough, single parents and the elderly, often within your own neighbourhood,” Pattinson said.

Coles has worked nationally with Foodbank for the past 14 years, donating food and groceries each year that have been used to provide a total of 20 million meals.

Coles State General Manager Neil Lake said Coles was proud to work with Foodbank in South Australia.

“Coles has been donating food and grocery items to Foodbank for more than a decade, to help families and individuals in need to put a meal on the table,” Lake said.

“Customers and team members are telling us that they want a simpler way to make a difference in the community, and give people the products they require to prepare healthy meals. The food donation card campaign will provide this and will make a major difference to the people in our community who need it most.”

The donation cards will be displayed on stands inside Coles stores and then scanned at the checkout and added to a customer’s grocery bill.

Planned SA ice cream factory won’t go ahead without Gov’t help

A planned ice cream, slated for Adelaide’s northern suburbs, will probably not be built unless the State Government provides the project $4 million of assistance.

Adelaide Now reports that well-known local hospitality identity Yazan Akeel and investors want to build a $20.5 million ice cream, gelato and sorbet factory in Elizabeth West. If built, the facility would employ over 100 workers.

However, the South Australian Government’s new Investment Attraction Agency (IAA) baulked at the asked for $6 million assistance for the project.  

Akeel told Adelaide Now that, instead, the IAA initially offered just $750,000, then later $850,000 in assistance.

He added that the project may now be canned or possibly moved to another state. The Victorian government, he said, has offered to cover half the cost of the project.

A spokesperson for the IAA told Adelaide Now, “The Investment Attraction Agency is continuing to assess business proposals and has committed funds to several projects, the details will be outlined in the New Year.

“An offer of financial assistance and case management has been made to Dolce on the basis the company provides a business plan and proof that contracts are in place.”

Is the appointment of senior management at foodland a sign of panic

South Australian supermarket group Foodland has made a series of senior appointments as it gears up to meet increasing competition in the state’s supermarket sector and boost its market share.

Foodland has engaged Christopher Villani as Marketing Manager and Sarah Armstrong as Merchandising Manager, also appointing Adelaide-based brand agency kwp to ramp up its advertising and marketing strategy

Foodland’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Con Sciacca, said the new appointments helped strengthen the group as it faced increased pressure from the established supermarket chains and the arrival of new competition from overseas.

Adding “We have a unique focus on South Australian growers and producers which differentiates us in the market place and has enabled us to build up a loyal customer base.

Laucke launches single origin flour from Kangaroo Island

For many years, Laucke Flour Mills Managing Director Mark Laucke has been crafting products derived from grains of known and traceable sources in the same way the wine industry produces wine from selected varieties and regions. 

“Unique food and wine is pivotal to Australia’s prosperity and central to its identity,” Mr Laucke said.

“Just like their wine industry counterparts — the best grain growers take pride in their high quality produce derived from clean air, water, soils and pristine seed stocks,” he said.

“In a world where food safety concerns are growing, South Australia is pioneering ‘paddock to plate’ traceability and leading food safety certification, ensuring absolute confidence and peace of mind for domestic and international consumers,” Mr Laucke said.

That opportunity has been realised this month with the launch of Laucke Flour Mills’ Single Origin Kangaroo Flours – ‘Classic’ and ‘Rising’— both milled from grain traceable to its Kangaroo Island origins.

“We are enormously proud to be partnering with the farmers of Kangaroo Island, who have grasped the opportunity and developed the sophistication to produce and supply us with grain that is identifiable, certified, tracked and documented,” Mr Laucke said.

“The iconic, pristine, and natural environment of Kangaroo Island is separated from the Australian mainland by 22 km and therefore offers a provenance unique to the world.

“The region’s soil and natural environment produces a range of unique flavoured local foods and beverages —such as wines, cheese, olives, and honey —and grains are no exception.

“Nowhere else in the world replicates the grains as grown from the purity of the water, air and soil of Kangaroo Island.” 

“We can track the provenance of the grain from the actual paddock—where that vintage of their grain was grown – all the way through to careful segregation and milling, where the unique characteristics of the wheat are retained within the flour,” Mr Laucke said.

Laucke Flour Mills Single Origin Kangaroo Flour –  ‘Classic’ and ‘Rising’ are both available in Woolworths, and selected independent grocery stores in the coming weeks.

Thomas Foods set to pack on the beef

South Australian meat processor, Thomas Foods International says it will boost its beef processing capacity by up to 25 per cent with a new beef boning facility.

Thomas Foods has an annual revenue in excess of $AUD1billion and is Australia’s largest family-owned meat-processing company.

It currently supplies a range of retail outlets including Coles, Woolworth’s, Costco and also Aldi.

According to the company, this $AUD25 million upgrade of its Murray Bridge abattoir will boost the company's beef processing capacity by a quarter and will see the creation of an additional 200 jobs.

“The new facility will use the latest technology for refrigeration, conveying, sortation, cryovac packing and hygiene,” Thomas Foods CEO David McKay said.

"It will be one of our company's biggest investments," he said.

Beca completes Lion’s West End Brewery Upgrade

Beca has finalised $26M of works at Lion’s West End Brewery in Adelaide. 

The project scope was to replace the existing West End brew house, which produced 150,000L of wort (pre-fermented beer) every 6 hours with a new plant that produced 50,000L every 2 hours. 

This allowed for the same total output, but achieved greater flexibility as more brands can be produced every day. Work was also carried out to move production from a manual process to a fully automated operation, where the role of operators and brewers is to sample and programme the recipes for the week. 

The successful delivery of this project on time and on budget was underpinned by the strong collaboration between Lion and Beca. 

“I was particularly impressed with Beca’s ability to support the Hyde Park project with experienced senior project management and process engineering resources in the unique and complex field of brewing,” said John Kearvell, Lion’s Group Capital Works Manager.

“We’re delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Lion on another multi-disciplinary project and achieve a successful outcome. This marks the completion of the Hyde Park Project – a major change initiative impacting multiple sites and spanning several years from conception to completion,” said Derek Schaefer, Beca’s Client Relationship Manager for Lion in Australia. 

Along with delivering ahead of time and on budget, the project was completed with an exceptional health and safety result; its last 550 days free of any lost time or medically treated injuries.