Viticulturist and Winemaker of the year winners announced

The Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) last night announced the Awards for Excellence winners for 2020.
• 2020 ASVO Viticulturist of the year – Dr Mark Krstic
• 2020 ASVO Winemaker of the year – Peter Leske
2020 ASVO Viticulturist of the Year
Mark Krstic is the managing director of the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). Krstic has more than 23 years of experience in viticulture research, R&D leadership and executive management.
He holds undergraduate and post-graduate degrees in Agricultural Science from the University of Tasmania and an MBA from Mt Eliza/Queensland University. Krstic commenced his career in viticulture R&D at CSIRO, Merbein, where he conducted research on grapevine physiology, crop development and yield estimation. Since that time he has worked in key viticulture roles at the Victorian Government’s Department of Primary Industries, the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (now Wine Australia) and the Australian Wine Research Institute, leading a range of R&D initiatives.
He currently chairs the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference Inc., is a past President of the Australian Society of Viticulture and Oenology (ASVO) and graduate of the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia Wine Industry Future Leaders Program (2010). He has played a key role in smoke taint research and emergency response since 2006 and recently co-authored a book on soil health Healthy soils for healthy vines (CSIRO Publishing) with Professor Bob White. He is extremely passionate about the grape and wine sector and the outcomes science can deliver.
“I’ve always been fascinated by all aspects of innovation in the viticulture and how that can influence what we are able to taste in the glass. I am honoured to be nominated by my peers as an ASVO viticulturist of the year finalist” said Krstic.
2020 ASVO Winemaker of the year
Peter Leske is Winemaker and Director at Revenir Winemaking in the Adelaide Hills, where he and a small team make a range of wines for diverse clients using an equally diverse list of grape varieties into even more diverse styles! He greatly enjoys the opportunities that this challenge offers for collaboration with other industry members, which he cites as one of the genuine strengths of our community.
Throughout his career, Leske has sought to increase and share collective knowledge and expertise, through roles at the AWRI and SAWIA, and most recently by assisting members of the Hills region with the making, sensory assessment and interpretation of smoke impact on hundreds of small-lot wines from affected vineyards. This effort has also involved working with practitioners and researchers to implement and manage related longer-term projects, which he hopes will add much to the future understanding of the impact of fires in viticultural regions.
“I am surprised and delighted to be nominated in 2020: I consider myself very fortunate to have worked with a vast range of talented people over my time in wine. They have generously given and taught me much and I value every opportunity to follow their lead and share as much as I can with those around me” said Leske.
Brooke Howell, President of the ASVO said, “ There was a very high standard of nominees for the Viticulturist and Winemaker of the Year awards who have all demonstrated excellence in their field. It was very pleasing to see Mark and Peter recognised as very worthy winners this year, for their significant contribution and ability to inspire others around them”
The full list of award categories and winners are:
• ASVO Viticulturist of the year Dr Mark Krstic, The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI)
• ASVO Winemaker of the Year Peter Leske, Revenir Winemaking
• ASVO Viticulture Paper of the Year Dr Rob Walker, CSIRO
• ASVO Oenology Paper of the Year Dr Vanessa Stockdale, Accolade
• ASVO Dr Peter May Award Dr Marcos Bonada, PIRSA-SARDI
ASVO Award recipients are nominated by ASVO-appointed selection committees comprised of individuals who themselves are distinguished in the fields of viticulture and oenology and who demonstrate exceptional leadership ability and vision. For a list of previous ASVO Awards winners, please visit https://www.asvo.com.au/asvo-awards-for-excellence

Australian grapegrowers and consumers becoming more experimental

The Australian grape and wine community is well known for its experimental and innovative attitudes towards growing and producing wine, Wine Australia explains.

The Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show (AAVWS) is one event that both encourages interest in different varieties and showcases new gems.

With the next AAVWS to be held in Mildura from November 7-10, Wine Australia wanted to gauge what’s happening in this sector.

While there’s ample conversation to be had over a glass of vino or two about whether these varieties should be called ‘alternative’ or ‘new-to-Australia’ or even ‘emerging’ it’s clear that there is an enormous amount of interest in trying something different.

READ: Australian wine continues to be the flavour of international markets

While viticulturalists and winemakers are the ones leading the way, consumers are willing to try and enjoy new sensations such as Prosecco.

While the vast majority of the wine produced in Australia still comes from a handful of varieties – two-thirds of the 2018 winegrape crush came from four varieties – there are more than 130 wine grape varieties grown across Australia, with 120 making up just 11 per cent of the crush.

Shiraz grape varieties make up the largest portion at 24 per cent, with chardonnay following close by with 23 per cent.

Pinot Noir, Colombard, Muscat Gordo Blanco and Semillon make up the smallest portion – each holding 3 per cent.

A growing number of Australian vignerons and winemakers are expanding beyond the traditional varieties and including a wide range of alternative varieties in their portfolios.

This includes numerous Italian varieties that are now emerging in Australia, such as Prosecco, Sangiovese, Fiano and Vermentino.

While some emerging varieties are planted to respond to changing consumer preferences, others are experimental to counter some of the predicted future impacts of climate change, and for some winemakers it is an ancestral connection to other winegrowing regions around the world.

Prosecco is the fastest growing of the emerging Italian varieties, with the crush growing from 2500 tonnes in 2015 to more than 7000 tonnes in 2018.

This reflects the growth in popularity of Australian Prosecco among Australian wine drinkers.

According to IRI Worldwide, the value of Australian Prosecco sales in the domestic off-trade market almost trebled over the past three years. In comparison, sales of Australian Sangiovese over the same period increased by 2 per cent per annum.

Emerging varieties are grown across Australia’s wine regions, and researchers and grapegrowers are working together to grow the pool of knowledge about where in the world to look for varieties that might suit the varying regional conditions across the Australian continent from Western Australia’s Margaret River to Queensland’s Granite Belt.

Australian wine continues to be the flavour of international markets

Australian wine exports continue to experience strong growth, with an increase of 11 per cent in value to $2.71 billion for the year ended 30 September 2018.

Wine Australia reports that Australian wine also rose in volume to 5 per cent to 842 million litres, for the year ended 30 September 2018.

Shipments of bottled wine increased by 8 per cent in value to $2.16b and 2 per cent in volume to 366m litres.

Shipments of unpackaged wine also grew strongly, with a 23 per cent increase in value to $525m and a 9 per cent increase in volume to 468m litres.

READ: Australian wine exports to Canada increase in volume and value

There were also increases in the average value of wine exported, with a 7 per cent increase for bottled wine to $5.90 per litre, a 13 per cent increase of unpackaged wine to $1.12 per litre and a 5 per cent increase of all wine exported to $3.21 per litre.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said today’s export figures show that there has been strong and sustainable growth over the past 12 months, delivering the third year of double-digit growth on a year ended September basis.

“These figures are the result of a lot of hard work by Australia’s 2401 wine exporters, the people who spend time in market to build their brands, distribution networks and awareness of all that Australian wine has to offer consumers.

“Australia exports more than 60 per cent of the wine we produce, so it’s important that we continue to build our export markets,” he said.

“In the 12 months to 30 September, there was healthy growth across the price spectrum. Exports above $10 per litre increased by 20 per cent to $804m, with the $20 to $29.99 segment in particular, showing considerable growth. Below $10 per litre, the $5 to $7.49 segment was the star, growing by $50m,” said Clark.

Exports grew to all but one of the major destination regions.

The standout growth of 24 per cent was experienced in Northeast Asia, where exports grew to $1.14b in value, while in North America, a $16m increase in exports to Canada only partially offset a $38m decline in exports to the United States of America.

Regions in growth:

  • Northeast Asia, by 24 per cent to $1.14b
  • Europe, by 5 per cent to $604m
  • Southeast Asia, by 5 per cent to $170m
  • Oceania, by 21 per cent to $105m
  • Middle East, by 41 per cent to $30m

“Growing the China and the USA markets is the key focus of the Australian government’s export and regional wine support package. We are seeing strong growth in China and we have redoubled our efforts in the USA to capture more of the premium end of the market as American consumers trade up to higher priced wines,” said Clark.

“There is positive sentiment about Australian wine in the USA among key influencers and consumers. While consolidation at the distribution level of the three-tier system is proving to be a difficult barrier to overcome, the hard work of Australian exporters willing to get in to market is starting to pay off,” he said.

Research aims to help grapegrowers deal with climate change challenges

A research team from the University of Tasmania (UTAS) is using climate science to provide the Australian grape and wine community with information on dealing with climate change.

The team has provided tools and practical management options to help the industry face the challenges of short-term climate cycles and long-term climate change.

Led by Dr Rebecca Harris, the project employs a multi-disciplinary approach to integrate climate science, species distribution modelling and viticultural expertise.

Dr Tom Remenyi, a member of the UTAS project, said inter-annual climate variability has always posed a challenge to the wine sector. 

READ: Australia’s winegrape crush in 2018 just above long term average 

“Spring frost, heatwaves at flowering or just prior to harvest and bushfires can inflict large financial losses,” he said.

The incidence of such events was projected to increase with ongoing climate change, said Remenyi.

Discussions with grapegrowers and winemakers had highlighted the need for fine-scale regional projections across Australia and forecasts of inter-annual and decadal climate variability driven by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

The team hopes to identify how the weather risks for all wine regions may change into the future across a range of time-scales.

The sector is already highly adaptive and innovative, driven largely by an existing climate that is highly variable, said Remenyi.

These tools aim to help grapegrowers and winemakers choose adaptive strategies with the best long-term returns, he said. 

The UTAS project aims to provide both short-term predictions and long-term projections of climate across Australia, with a focus on regional climate indices tailored for the grape and wine community. 

The goal includes identifying weather risks, particularly important to grapegrowing within different wine regions.

The project also aims to develop region-specific indices of ‘heatwave’ and variety-specific indices of heat accumulation.

The team has also produced a tool that allows the rapid comparison of any region now, with any other region globally into the future. 

This allows users to identify what the vineyard conditions are going to be similar to into the future.

Remenyi said improved knowledge of conditions expected over the next decades could help growers and winemakers position themselves to take advantage of new opportunities and markets.

CropLogic secures space in Mildura, Australia as part of Smart Farm project

Crop forecasting technology company, CropLogic, has secured space in Mildura, Australia, as part of the Mildura Regional Development Smart Farm project.

The expansion is a collaboration with SproutX, Mildura Regional Development and the Victorian government.

CropLogic’s future growth strategy highlights a specified region in South-East Australia that includes Mildura, which confirms the area has a high percentage of horticulture acres.

Based on market data, it shows that this area represents about 74 per cent of Australia’s horticulture acres, with a gross product at the farm gate of $3.5 billion per annum.

The Victorian government has classified agri-business as a prime strategic industry for Mildura, with the region’s horticulture being key to this.

Viticulture and wineries have also been identified by the government as vital tourism assets for the area.

Mildura Regional Development CEO Daryl Buckingham said the core focus of the strategic development plan was to support and grow the Mildura’s economy by capitalising on assets it already had.

“This partnership with CropLogic fits perfectly within this framework and I am excited by all the possibilities it opens up for the region,” he said.

CropLogic CEO James Cooper-Jones said the response and uptake of CropLogic realtime in the Columbia Basin, USA, could not have been better this season.

“CropLogic values these partnerships in its global growth strategy and it’s why we were eager to take this opportunity when approached by SproutX and Mildura Regional Development,” he saud.

“A lot of the tree and viticulture crops that are seeing a resurgence and boom in the Mallee/Riverina, are crops CropLogic has been servicing in the USA. We’re getting great feedback from these growers and we’re eager to bring this technology to Mildura and contribute to grower’s optimum yield rates there too,” said Cooper-Jones.

SproutX director Andrew Lai said the Mallee region was a leading horticulture area.

“We’re thrilled to have the support of CropLogic in the Mallee and to parent with a company that shares our view that regional engagement is critical to agtech development and investment,” said Lai.

The Smart Farm Project goal is to develop, test and commercialise Internet of Things solutions and to combine them with robotics to increase productivity and sustainability on farms.

Fruity, with a hint of gobbledygook: it’s time to give up on wine wankery

Barnyardy. Herbacious. Unctuous. Chewy. Hedonistic. Ponderous. Shallow. Backward. The wine industry has been using evocative descriptors to characterise the taste and aroma of its products for generations. But how does the industry justify such precise language to describe such a subjective experience?

Especially given empirical research, which has demonstrated that the average consumer struggles to recognise descriptions of the wine that experts identify on the label, it is likely the wine industry alienates consumers more than it attracts them.

Furthermore, although wine experts use a larger vocabulary to describe wine, and discriminate between two wines more effectively than novices, a body of evidence suggests that wine expertise is a questionable label with respect to the degree of rating variability in wine judging.

This plight of wine label irrelevance afflicting wine consumers is typically met with the response of a need for wine education, according to the wine sector. Is it that such consumers are simply out of touch with the wine industry, or is it that the wine industry is out of touch with itself?

We believe the evidence clearly points towards the latter. Welcome to the concept of Wine Wankery.

Previous studies (such as these, by Spawton, Hall & Winchester, and Geraghty & Torres) have suggested there are three to four types of wine consumer:

  1. Connoisseurs or enthusiasts – those who know a lot about wine
  2. Enjoyment-based or casual wine consumers – those who enjoy quaffing their wine and are not too fussed on impressing anyone with it
  3. Risk averse or value seeking wine consumers – those who do not know a lot about wine and look for special offers
  4. Image conscious or aspirational wine consumers – those who are not experts in wine and are insecure about their lack of knowledge.

While there is limited evidence on the proportions of the population that make up each of the above groups, the limited evidence available suggests that fewer than one in five wine drinkers are connoisseurs. It is clear that most wine drinkers are not particularly sophisticated, suggesting that overly complex wine labels are irrelevant to most of the market.

The reality of the market is that most wine consumers are likely to seek a more simple explanation of what they drink. Most people are interested in wine being cheap, and tasting reasonably good. The UK’s biggest selling wines are big brands, and these are mainly sold through the major supermarkets.

Brands such as Yellowtail, Jacob’s Creek and Hardy’s show that the majority of consumers are not into expensive wines nor are they enthusiastic oenologists. Moreover, consumer purchase patterns that hold true in FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) markets also hold true in those where consumers purchase wine. It may be a surprise to many that bulk wine brands are likely to get more consumer loyalty than boutique, expensive brands.

Given that wine operates in a market just like any other consumer product, why does this industry put so much effort into Wine Wankery?

 

nocturnika

 

When you read wine magazines or a wine industry journal, ironically much more page space is dedicated to the premium and boutique end of the market. This segment actually represents a disproportionately smaller portion of the wine market in sales volume.

The proportions vary by sales format, but somewhere between 1% and 20% of sales volume is attributed to the premium end of the market. On the other hand, the high volume brands get almost no coverage in wine magazines and journals, yet these brands are responsible for most of the sales. Most people appear happy to describe wine in one or two words. But those who write about wine need to fill space in a wine magazine, so two words isn’t nearly enough detail.

Perhaps wine that’s made to a formula is just not as sexy … Or is it simply that at the high volume end of the market, the consumer isn’t interested in wine descriptions? The appeal of wine is in its diversity and nuance, which attracts people to the category.

 

Ula Peiciute

 

Even across social media, the wine industry works toward the few customers who are enthusiasts or connoisseurs. This year, successful wine apps Vivino, and Delectable, which have millions of subscribers, began releasing data on users’ behaviours. Both of these apps use label recognition from the user’s phone to reveal information on the wine being photographed, as well as reviews from other users. These are game changer apps because the user doesn’t need to put the data in manually, unlike previous wine apps.

These millions of consumers may sound like a lot of users on which claims on wine market trends can be made. The problem with these app owners releasing data on their users’ behaviours is that their users aren’t “typical” wine consumers. A recent example from digital trends, on the Delectable app illustrates the situation.

If the industry was to use customer profiles and data on usage from these apps, it would be easy to believe that Growers Champagne and Loire Valley reds are the big trends in the wine market. Given that most subscribers on delectable reside in the US, you’d be forgiven for thinking that small producers of lesser-known wines were storming into households all over the country.

But, the latest Impact data on the US market shows that sweet red wines are still a fast-growing category, also that New Zealand Sauvignon blanc has grown almost 20% over the past year, and Prosecco sales being the big increase in the segment of foreign sparkling wine category.

What these results show is that these app users are more likely to resemble the small proportion of connoisseurs, and that any analysis from these apps will encourage the industry to be more out of touch with their assertions with respect to real wine drinkers.

Most consumers have probably had enough of wine wankery, and it’s probably time the wine industry got to terms with the fact it’s just another consumer product like any other.

The Conversation

Maxwell Winchester, Discipline Leader, Marketing , Victoria University and Damien Wilson, Programme Director, MSc in Wine Business, Burgundy School of Business

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Is WET squashing Australia’s wine industry?

Submissions to the Federal Government's Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) Rebate Discussion Paper close this Friday – let's hope this inquiry will bring some equity and simplification, asked vintner Des Caulfield.

“The Australian wine industry is one of the nation's most competitive industries globally, yet Australia is one of the highest taxed wine nations in the world,” said Caulfield.

“The tax rates are significantly distorting the market and holding back the Australian wine industry from being even more competitive.”

“When the GST was introduced in 2000, all wholesale sales taxes previously levied were discontinued. There was a confusing array of sales tax rates and the products to which they related. The GST, which replaced them, was to be a simple 10 per cent tax on retail sales regardless of the product, but with some exemptions.”

“The wholesale sales tax that applied to wine and a large number of other products when the GST was introduced came to 41 per cent. The imposition of the GST resulted in a significant reduction in the retail price of these products.”
 
Beer and spirit producers complained loudly that the reduction in the retail price of wine resulting from the removal of the 41 per cent wholesale sales tax put them at a disadvantage because the excise duty that they were levied continued despite the GST, resulting in a lift in beer and spirit prices, whilst the price of wine was reduced.
 
“To rectify this apparent anomaly the Government introduced a new 29 per cent tax levied on wholesale price of wine sold within Australia (i.e. excluding exports). And they called it the “Wine Equalisation Tax”, quickly shortened to the WET. 

“So what did this do to the price of wine?,” asked Caulfield.

Here's one example:
                                         $
Winery sells case of wine to retailer at net of tax price             100.00
WET is added    – 29%                                                               29.00
Price to retailer                                                                          129.00
Retailer margin – 25%                                                               32.25
Retail net of GST price                                                              161.25
GST  – 10%                                                                                16.13
Price to consumer                                                                      177.38    

Included in the final retail price is WET of $29.00 and GST of $16.13, a total of $45.13. 

But Canberra did not stop at just a 29 per cent WET. It complicated the process by granting rebates of WET, initially to just smaller Australian wine producers, but then subsequently to sales of wine in Australia by all Australian and New Zealand wineries capped at $1.7 million annually per producer.

“In my opinion,” said Caulfield, “…the WET started as a mess and has become progressively more complicated, and as a result, it has been open to many rorts, that, to date, have not been adequately addressed.”

“It also ensures that the price paid by Australian wine drinkers’ is greater than that paid by the drinkers of the same Australian wine in many overseas countries.” 

 

McGuigan scoops 2015 Riverina wine show

The 41st annual Riverina Wine Show results have been announced and as in previous years the entries and winning wines have celebrated the depth of quality and diversity in the Australian wine industry.
 
The big winner of the night was the 2007 McGuigan Bin 9000 Semillon (Hunter Valley), which was awarded the ‘Ian Bicego Best Still Wine of Show’ Trophy. 

Chair of Judges Sophie Otton said, “The McGuigan Bin 9000 showed the variety’s slow, controlled development; the kind that tantalises the senses with its lemony fragrance and glimpses of melted butter and toast complexity. This year’s winner absolutely embodied the exhilarating effortlessness and featherweight grace that is Semillon at its best.”
 
As well as strong entry numbers and some great results in the more traditional classes of Semillon, Shiraz and Cabernet, the judges were also “delighted” to see such diversity amongst the ‘Other Red Varieties’ Class, describing it as “a strong class which proved an exciting category, with expressive and skilfully made examples of Durif, Montepulciano, and Petit Verdot all made locally.” 

Commenting on other wine styles to look out for, Otton said, “The ‘2014 Pinot’ Class was an unexpected surprise. On the table, the wines awarded silvers and golds demonstrated a superb graduation, from fruit driven freshness and balance, building to increasing dimensions and layers of flavour, with the top gold showing superb multifaceted complexity. 
 

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