Two new skills development programs help wine tourism and exports sectors

Two new skills development programs packed with practical information and useful tools are being launched to help drive success in wine exporting and wine tourism.

The programs are supported by the Australian Government’s $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package.

One of the programs, Growing Wine Exports, starts in wine regions from the 2nd of October 2018.

It provides practical, hands-on working sessions and workshops for new and existing wine exporters looking to select, enter and/or build export markets.

READ: Grape growers encouraged to use phylloxera-resistant rootstocks when planting grapevines

The working sessions are designed to evaluate export prospects and the workshops are focused on building an effective export plan.

The other program, Growing Wine Tourism, starts in late October 2018. It is for people wanting to take a more strategic approach to developing and delivering their wine tourism products and services, including understanding the visitor economy and their international readiness.

The programs will be delivered to wine regions through workshops, webinars and online learning.

Assistant minister for agriculture and water resources senator Anne Ruston said a key factor for growth in the wine sector was capturing opportunities in major export markets, such as the US and China.

“There’s also an opportunity to expand our wine tourism offering and treat wine products as liquid postcards for our regions,” she said.

“These programs will equip businesses with plans, tools and advice to increase their chance of success in global markets,” said Ruston.

Wine Australia chief executive officer Andreas Clark said the impact of the program tools and detailed market analysis would be fantastic for the wine sector.

“Whether you’re a new or existing exporter – or a wine business looking to expand your wine tourism offering – developing a strategy that cuts-through can be challenging,” he said.

“Participants will receive advice about reducing the risks associated with exports and wine tourism, and, in turn, will strengthen our global reputation for fine wine and tourism,” said Clark.



Grape growers encouraged to use phylloxera-resistant rootstocks when planting grapevines

Phylloxera is one of the most serious biosecurity risks for the Australian grape and wine community.

It has the potential to devastate vineyards and wreak economic devastation on rural communities.

Wine Australia and Vinehealth Australia are encouraging grape growers, who are considering planting or replanting grapevines, to use phylloxera-resistant rootstocks for at least a portion of their vineyard to future-proof their business against phylloxera.

Grape phylloxera (daktulsphaira vitifoliae) is a tiny insect pest that destroys grapevines by feeding on their roots.

READ: Welch’s Global Ingredients Group launches new grape juice solutions for the wine industry

Currently, there are 83 genetic strains of phylloxera in Australia and while impacts are dependent on the strain, generally once vines are infested, they die within six years.

However, the effects on yields are felt much sooner.

There is no cure. Once infested, the only solution is to replant resistant rootstock, whihc is selected based on site conditions and phylloxera strain.

Phylloxera’s arrival in Europe,
in the 1850s wiped out millions of hectares of vineyards within years.

The pest is present in eight quarantine zones in Australia but good fortune and strict quarantine regulations have limited further spread.

However, Australia’s wine sector remains incredibly exposed to phylloxera.

Susceptible, own-rooted vines make up the majority of the nation’s vineyards. Vinehealth Australia data shows that in South Australia alone, 74 per cent of vineyard hectares
are planted to own-rooted vines – including some of the oldest vines in the world.

This means that the stakes are extreme should phylloxera spread outside the current phylloxera-infested zones.

Wine Australia general manager of research, development and extension Dr Liz Waters said applying best practice farm gate hygiene and investing in resistant rootstocks should be considered as an insurance policy for grape growers across Australia.

“Through our isolation as a nation and strict biosecurity practices, we have avoided much of the devastation that phylloxera has caused in other wine growing regions around the world. However, we can’t ignore the massive risk we face,” said Waters.

“While alone it cannot stop the spread of phylloxera, one of the
most effective long-term practice is planting vines grafted on phylloxera- resistant rootstocks so that, if there is an outbreak, the immediate economic impact is reduced.”

Waters acknowledged that planting vines on rootstocks is more expensive than own-rooted material, but she urged wine businesses to think of the expense as an insurance policy.

“If there is a phylloxera outbreak, vines on resistant rootstocks will not be affected, reducing the economic impact on the growers and the wider rural community. Even a portion of
a property with vines on resistant rootstock offers a buffer against economic devastation. Rootstocks can also provide more immediate benefits by providing resistance to vigour-sapping nematodes and delivering better performance in drought and saline soils,” said Waters.

While there remains a lot to learn about rootstocks and phylloxera resistance, Waters urged grape growers to use Wine Australia’s free online Grapevine Rootstock Selector to pick the best rootstocks for their vineyard and seek expert assistance from their local nursery.

“Choosing the right rootstock can eliminate many long-held concerns about quality. The Grapevine Rootstock Selector tool has information on rootstock and scion compatibility and soil suitability, so that grapegrowers can take advantage of decades of research,” she said.

Vinehealth Australia CEO Inca Pearce said every available tool was needed to prevent the spread and impact of phylloxera in Australia.

“It’s critical that the grape and wine community works together to stop the spread of phylloxera,” said Pearce.

“Planting on phylloxera-resistant rootstocks is an important protective measure for long-term sustainability. However, rigorous farmgate hygiene practices and compliance with state quarantine regulations are vital in preventing the further spread of phylloxera.

“We must work together to ensure that the own-rooted vines planted a decade, generation or century ago, can continue to produce grapes for Australian wines that consumers around the world enjoy,” said Pearce.

Survey seeks to identify best practice in direct-to-consumer wine sales

Wine companies are being encouraged to participate in Wine Australia’s inaugural Cellar door and direct-to-consumer survey to help develop best practice customer engagement.

Wine Australia chief executive officer Andreas Clark said that, in 2017, the small winemaker production and sales survey found that direct-to-consumer sales channels accounted for 43 per cent of total sales revenue for Australia’s 2000+ small winemakers, with cellar door the strongest growing channel.

“Wine businesses were found to be making significant investments in tourism-related offerings and developing a range of alternatives to traditional cellar door tastings,” said Clark.

However, there was very little in-depth information available on direct-to-consumer total sales, cellar door visits, conversion rates, wine club retention rates and other benchmark statistics that helped wineries develop strategies and assess their performance in these profitable and growing channels, he said.

READ: Twenty Five Doors helps small wineries build market share

“This survey delivers on an initiative of Wine Industry Suppliers Australia (WISA) and will be used to develop a series of key benchmarks and statistics to assist wineries in the development of best practice wine tourism,” he said.

“It’s important for producers to benchmark themselves to improve overall performance, make informed business decisions and manage factors that affect consumers’ demand, loyalty and preference for their wine brand. This survey will provide meaningful and actionable insights for wine producers throughout Australia and will be an essential tool when building long-term sales strategies,” said Clark.

WISA executive officer Matt Moate said the research was imperative to define the capability gaps in Australian direct-to-consumer wine sales.

“The supply sector will be able to utilise this data to deliver opportunities to accelerate producers’ knowledge and skills resulting in a new level of competitiveness in this space,” said Moate.

The survey incorporates and expands on Wine Australia’s annual small winemaker production and sales survey and respected social research company Harrison Research will undertake the inaugural 2018 survey on behalf of Wine Australia.

Wine companies will receive a link to the survey in mid-August.

The survey will be anonymous, with the information presented in a report that will be published using aggregated, de-identified data.

The report will be released at WISA’s inaugural wine industry impact conference in Adelaide on the 18th of October.

Twenty Five Doors helps small wineries build market share

Twenty Five Doors is bringing marketing expertise to small wineries, enabling them to concentrate on making great Australian wine.

For tourists seeking an Australian wine experience it can be hard to find offers by small wineries as websites can be hard to navigate and online searches can be time consuming.

For this reason, tourists often settle for the easiest things to find, which means small wineries miss out on customers, Twenty Five Doors explains.

Twenty Five Doors is a technology solution, empowering wineries to easily create, market and deliver accessible and unique wine experiences at their cellar door.

READ: Wine Australia to invest $67.8m in ambitious agenda for coming year

It is a marketplace of wine tourism experiences and helps wineries, particularly smaller ones, improve the quality, value and premium paid by visitors to taste their wine.

The company’s vision is a personal connection between every wine lover and their favourite wineries.

For all wineries, in particular small winemakers, wine tourism has been identified as a growth channel.

Twenty Five Doors explains that 35 per cent of small wineries’ sales occur through the cellar door.

As reported in Wine Australia’s Small Winemakers Production report, there is a strong opportunity for wine businesses going forward to focus on providing an overall, integrated tourism experience.

This includes, a focus on personalisation, an increased emphasis on hands-on experiences, pairing food with wine, and linking with broader tourism in the local area.

Twenty Five Doors has helped companies such as Steel Gate Wines broaden its reach.

Steels Gate Wines is a small vineyard and winery in the north of the Yarra Valley and one of the early users of the Twenty Five Doors platform.

Co-Owner, Brad Atkins said through the company, Steel Gates could create a deeper connection with visitors.

“We have been able to create unique experiences that integrate with our restaurant offering, and leverage their marketing capability to increase our exposure,” said Atkins.

“Twenty Five Doors also increases our competitiveness and capability to drive sales because experiences are booked in advance, allowing us to manage resources to ensure that we are available to personally take visitors through our wines in a seated tasting, learning about them and telling our story,” he said.

Steels Gate Wines had a number of walk-ins during the weekend, who were not always the best customers for sustaining business, said Atkins.

“What we need is the right customer who is interested in what we are doing. Once we have the right customer, it is about the right person serving them.”

Funding flows in for Western Australia’s wine regions

Western Australia’s wine regions are receiving funding from the Australian government.

A $2-million marketing campaign to boost international visits to Western Australia’s wine regions received support from the Australian Government’s $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package, a network of WA Government and sector partners.

Wines of WA has secured $1 million in funding through the International Wine Tourism State Grants program and $1m in matching state funds, through a consortium of state government agencies and tourism, agricultural and regional bodies.

Wine Australia chief executive officer, Andreas Clark, said the Wines of WA application was approved by the Australian Government following assessment by an independent expert assessment panel.

READ: Four of the five largest markets for Australian wine exports have grown in value

“The $5m state grants program aims to maximise the wine sector’s impact on state economies – it’s about driving collaborative, strategic wine tourism initiatives that attract international visitors to our wine regions,” said Clark.

Wines of WA was working with the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tourism WA and their counterparts in the wine, trade and agriculture sectors to cross promote WA’s wine, food and tourism destinations and experiences, he said.

Wines of WA collaborative wine tourism strategy aligns with the existing Western Australian Wine Industry Strategic Plan 2014–2024, which aims to double wine exports to $100m by 2021.

Wines of WA chief executive officer, Larry Jorgensen, said the investment plan was built around four key areas – in-region and inter-region collaboration with key sector partners, wine tourism product development, a comprehensive suite of digital marketing tools and partnerships with tourism operators and agencies.

“The aim is to build on the strong brand of regional hotspots like Margaret River and create new wine tourism experiences in other regions to extend tourists’ spend and length of stay in WA”, said Jorgensen.

The $5 million International Wine Tourism State Grants program requires applicants to provide matching funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

Four of the five largest markets for Australian wine exports have grown in value

Four of the largest markets for Australian wine exports grew in value and volume in the 2017/18 financial year.

At $2.8 billion, the value of Australian wine exports has seen the largest growth in 15 years. This is a 20 per cent growth.

But, of the five largest markets, the only one not to grow in value and volume was the US market.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said the strong growth in the value and volume of Australian wine exports is very welcome, but the challenges and opportunities for the sector were very clear.

READ: Wine Australia to invest $67.8m in ambitious agenda for coming year

“USA is the world’s largest wine market and Australia has the opportunity to capture more of the premium end of the market as American consumers trade up to higher priced wines,” said Clark.

Australia had been strong in the commercial half of the US market, as 54 per cent of the US off-trade volume was wines under US$8 per bottle, but this market was shrinking, he said.

American consumers are transitioning from commercial wines to more premium wines.

“The premium end of the USA wine market is enjoying robust growth, as are Australian exports in nearly all price points above $10 per litre. We’re working to accelerate this growth in demand through a marketing push supported by the Australian government’s $50 million export and regional wine support package,” said Clark.

An inaugural Australia Decanted event was launched at the end of July, at Lake Tahoe, California.

“This four-day wine education program is immersing 100 key influencers, from the USA in Australia’s diverse and thriving wine scene, to raise awareness of the breadth of Australia’s fine wine offering and the perception of the Australian wine category in the USA,” said Clark.

“Australia Decanted will become Wine Australia’s signature annual event in the USA and will be followed by Aussie Wine Week, in September this year, and Aussie Wine Month in September 2019,” he said.

Despite challenges in the US market, there was an increase in the average value of bottled
exports shared by 69 of the 127 destinations for Australian wine, with demand for premium
Australian wine in Northeast Asia being the biggest contributor to value and volume growth.

The growth in exports was driven by a 15 per cent increase in active exporters compared to the previous 12 months, with 2298 exporters shipping 23,761 unique products. Of these exporters, 1616 either started exporting or grew the value of their exports, contributing $653 million to the growth in overall export value.

Dalefold Wines’ licence suspended for exporting unapproved products

Australian company Dalefold Wines has had its licence to export grape products from Australia suspended.

The Board of Wine Australia suspended the licence in late-July after discovering the company was exporting grape products that were not approved by Wine Australia.

While the suspension remains in place, Dalefold Wines may not export wine from Australia.

Wine Australia is seeking further information from Dalefold Wines before deciding the length of the suspension and considering whether the licence should be cancelled.

READ: Wine Australia to invest $67.8m in ambitious agenda for coming year

Wine Australia last cancelled a licence in the 2015-16 financial year.

Wine Australia found out that Dalefold Wines exported three grape products from Australia for which an export certificate was not in force.

By doing so, Dalefold Wines contravened section 44 of the Wine Australia Act 2013 and the Wine Australia Regulations 2018.

The company also engaged in activity that aimed to leverage from the reputation of another wine brand in China through causing consumer confusion.

This was done to the extent that it could affect the export trade in all grape products from Australia by diminishing consumer confidence in the integrity and authenticity of Australian grape products in China.

It could also cause harm to the reputation of all Australian grape products, relations with importers, current promotional strategies or the marketability of Australian grape products relative to competitors.

Changes to the Wine Australia Regulations 2018 earlier this year mean that other exporters may not export wine on behalf of Dalefold Wines now that its licence has been suspended.

Wine Australia acts to protect the reputation of Australian wine by regulating export shipments, conducting audits of wine producers and ensuring the truthfulness of claims made on Australian wine labels in both the domestic and export markets.

There are currently 2298 active licensed exporters.

Wine cannot be exported from Australia without an export licence issued by Wine Australia, which has the power to suspend or cancel licenses when necessary.

Wine Australia appoints Regional General Manager Greater China

Wine Australia has appointed experienced China hand, David Lucas, to the new role of Regional General Manager Greater China.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer, Andreas Clark said David’s background was ideal to help the Australian wine sector grow and defend the Greater China market.

“David has spent the past 20 years in Asia and has significant experience within the wine and spirits categories across North Asia,”  Clark said.

“David has undertaken multiple roles for ASC Fine Wines, one of the largest importers and distributors of Australian wines in China, including Vice President Sales, and thus has a deep understanding of Chinese channel management.”

Prior to ASC Fine Wines, David spent many years at Bacardi and Allied Domecq developing spirits markets.

“With exports to Greater China now approaching $1 billion, it is essential that we strengthen the resources we have in the market to develop even bigger and deeper relationships,” said Clark.

“Under the $50 million Package investment, we rolled Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan markets into the remit of our team in Shanghai. David’s channel management background across China and Asia will allow us to reinforce our ability to act as a key bridge between our wineries and brands and the market with all of its complexities, giving us a huge opportunity to continue our stunning growth.”

Willa Yang, who has managed the China team for many years, will continue as Head of Market for China reporting to David.

David commenced on Monday 26 February 2018, reporting to Stuart Barclay, General Manager Marketing.

$1m in grants available for wine exports

Australian wine businesses that export to China, Hong Kong, Macau and the United States can now apply for up to $25,000 in Government funding to support specific export promotion activities.   Read more