Wineries band together to attract visitors

Three Victorian wineries are putting aside traditional rivalries to help each other recover from the coronavirus.
And they’re using award-winning wines and food, nature, and the relatively low profile of
the region as their biggest drawcards.
Tahbilk, Fowles, and Mitchelton — three, five-star rated wineries, located in the Strathbogie
Shire, approximately 90 minutes north of Melbourne — have been hit hard by border closures and Melbourne’s recent ‘ring of steel’, which separated regional Victoria from metropolitan Melbourne:
• The historic Tahbilk Winery is Victoria’s oldest winery situated on the banks of the Goulburn River. Once referred to by the first people as ‘tabilk-tabilk’ (or the ‘place of many waterholes’), Tahbilk is a carbon neutral winery nestled among river flats and kilometres of backwaters, creeks, and walking trails.
• Just up the road, also fronting Victoria’s longest river, is Mitchelton Wines, a mid-century architectural masterpiece, which has been recently updated to include the iconic Ashton Tower, overlooking the Goulburn River and ranges, award winning cellar door, 58 room hotel, restaurant, major events, and one of Australia’s largest Aboriginal art galleries.
• Fowles Wine is the relatively new kid on the block – a five-star winery and farm located in the small township of Avenel, a short drive from the other two wineries. Fowles has also invested in its future, opening a new cellar door and renovating its restaurant, drawing on inspiration from the quintessential Aussie shed and majestic views of the Strathbogie Ranges.
“Each winery is completely different. Yet, by coming together, we offer the chance for guests to experience the best of the Victorian wine industry in a day. This is a great opportunity for people who want real, authentic experiences,” according to Fowles Wine owner Matt Fowles.
Like most businesses in the region, Tahbilk, Fowles, and Mitchelton depend upon holiday makers and daytrippers using the Hume Highway, which completely dried up as a source of tourism in 2020. But now the renowned Shiraz and Riesling producers are fighting back, using the region’s natural hidden gems, and relatively low tourism profile, as part of a new campaign to secure their share of Victoria’s $10bn regional tourism market.
“Relatively little-known wine regions and townships, like nearby Nagambie and Avenel, now have a fighting chance to compete with better-known visitor destinations because of the virus,” Fowles said.
Tahbilk CEO Alister Purbrick said there were about 4.4 million people visiting and spending money in regional Victoria every month in 2019.
“That’s a lot of visitors, even before the pandemic begun, and that gives us a lot of heart to make a serious comeback from the ravage of this pandemic,” he said.
With Victoria’s regional tourism boom expected to go deep into next year, Mr Purbrick said it made sense for the three wineries to band together to offer an attractive alternative to the regular touristy spots.
“In the coming months, we expect to see a surge in visitors from Melbourne, within the region, and even interstate, looking for places to visit and explore, which are different, unexpected, and safe.
“People will still want to have a great food and wine experience in a beautiful regional setting. But, post-lockdown, they will also want to be able to stretch out, breathe, feel safe, and be totally free from the hassle of queues and crowds, which is exactly what we are offering,” Purbrick said.
Chief winemaker at Mitchelton, Andrew Santarossa, said the Take Nature’s Road Trip campaign exploited the fact the region is not always top-of-mind, or on the ‘map’, for most day-trippers.
“For us, this has become one of our greatest strengths as we don’t have the same crowds, or traffic problems, which other more frequented regional wine destinations are likely to encounter this coming summer.
“But what we do have is an amazing natural setting boasting some of Victoria’s best wineries and dining, wide-open spaces, the Goulburn River and Ranges, bush trails and billabongs, and friendly smiles,”  Santarossa said.

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.”

Calabria Family Wines takes over distibutorship of Canti

Calabria Family Wines has acquired the Australian distribution business of Italian prosecco brand, Canti.

The deal sees the family-owned winery take over the Australian import, sales, and marketing of the family-owned and operated Canti from Accolade Wines.

As a third-generation Italian-Australian wine business, Calabria Family Wines hopes to bring Canti’s distinct Italian flair and style to the booming prosecco market in Australia.

“This is our first shot into the distribution of wines outside of the Calabria Family Wines brand and we can’t think of a better business to be working with than Canti,” third-generation Sales & Marketing Manager Andrew Calabria said.

“We’ve had great success in the category with our own branded products. We first planted prosecco in the Riverina in 2013 and were the first Australian winery to launch a prosecco spritz in the domestic market with our Bevi range. We have also been importing an Italian Prosecco DOC since 2011 under our Calabria Private Bin range.

“Welcoming Canti to the Calabria portfolio is a natural progression for us to grow our footprint in the category and gives us exciting opportunities to expand our network and customer relationships,” Calabria said.

Canti was first introduced in 2001 by founder Gianni Martini, the renowned second-generation wine entrepreneur of the Fratelli Martini Secondo Luigi spa – one of the largest Italian family-run winemakers founded in 1947. Canti was introduced in the UK market in 2002 and since then has grown its distribution to more than 50 countries.

In 2016, Canti was the best-selling prosecco brand in the world, selling around 12 million bottles. In 2017 it increased its sales to 20 million bottles.

“We see tremendous potential in partnering with the Calabria family in Australia. Like us, they are a multi-generational family business, with a rich Italian heritage. Their understanding of the market and the category gives us confidence that Canti will continue its global success as a leading prosecco label,” Canti’s Gianni Martini said.

“Canti is simply more than an Italian prosecco, it’s a celebration of the Italian spirit which Australians have come to love and appreciate through cuisine, travel and style. We look forward to a long and exciting partnership in this market with the Calabria family.”

Calabria Family Wines will initially focus on a core portfolio of the Canti Prosecco D.O.C. Millesimato 750ml and 200ml format and the brand’s new Canti Prosecco D.O.C. Bio Organic. Calabria Family Wines is looking to introduce more wines in the Canti range to Australia, including its Estate Barbera D’Asti and Estate Pinot Grigio.

“Canti currently has a strong on premise footprint in Australia, which we will continue to grow as we also look to expand the brand’s retail presence. Our goal is to open up the entire Canti portfolio in Australia as the wines are exceptional and reflect truly great Italian winemaking,” Calabria said.

St Hugo releases new collection

Producing wines since its first 1980 vintage, St Hugo’s Fine and Rare Collection is a series of back vintage Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon that has been released to showcase the longevity and complexity that is gained by these fine wines with extended cellaring.

Stored in monitored conditions at the St Hugo winery in the Barossa, these back vintage wines from 1998, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 have been hand selected after tasting and review by the chief winemaker, Peter Munro before consideration for re-release.

“The 1998 St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is a mature wine from a vintage that is still displaying primary blackcurrant flavours twenty years on. While the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 are examples expressing the individual vintage conditions and will continue to develop further complexity over the coming decade,” said St Hugo chief winemaker Peter Munro.

Co-operation best bet as China investigates Australian wine imports

With Australian barley and beef already in the sights of the Chinese government, Beijing is now turning its eyes towards Australian wine as it opens up an investigation into whether or not Australian vintners deliberately dumped cheap wine into the Chinese market.

Tensions are running high between Canberra and Beijing as the Australian government starts flexing its muscle of Chinese incursions into the busy commercial water ways of the South China Sea.

In 2019, the value of wine exports to China were valued at just over $1.2 billion, and with the devastating bush fire season and COVID-19 taking hold, a lot of vineyards will be anxiously awaiting the outcome of the investigation.

In a statement, local vintner association Australian Grape & Wine, has taken a conciliatory approach.

“Australian Grape & Wine is aware of the request by the Chinese industry to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFOCM) to launch an anti-dumping investigation on Australian wine in China,” said Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Australian Grape & Wine.

“We believe that the Australian grape and wine sector is well placed to respond to this investigation and Australian Grape & Wine and our exporting companies will cooperate fully.

“China is an important market for Australian wine and our wine is in demand from Chinese consumers.

“Australia has a large number of exporters with close cultural ties to China.  The Australian industry welcomes the opportunity to build on these ties and work with the Chinese industry and government to further technical cooperation and develop lasting relationships.”

Speaking to the ABC, Victorian wine expert, James Hall, said, on average, a bottle of Australian wine in China costs three time as much as the locally-produced counterpart, with many in the Australian industry believing this more of a political than trade issue.

New look for Calabria’s Richland

Calabria Family Wines has unveiled a new look for its Calabria Richland series. In 1929, Calabria Family Wines’ founder Francesco Calabria boarded the Regina D’Italia ship in Italy bound for Australia in search of a better life. Francesco would often write letters to his wife and son, who remained in Italy until Francesco could establish a new life for them, describing Australia as a ‘Rich Land’ with layered landscapes, Mediterranean climate, fertile soils and deep blue waters.

The new-look Calabria Richland takes inspiration from this origin story, paying homage to Francesco’s letters describing Australia’s ‘Rich Land’ in a fresh, modern way.

A bouquet of colour is introduced across the portfolio as each variety incorporates a unique colour for each variety. The colour profile continues, with a distinct layer design reminiscent of Francesco’s ‘Rich Land’ descriptions finishing the bottom of the label.

Finding new pathways to US consumers for Australian wine

COVID-19 restrictions have shattered the on-premise market for wine sales in the United States – Australia’s second largest export market by volume – resulting in lower total wine sales and significant revenue losses for some US wineries, according to the latest Rabobank Wine Quarterly report.

Over March and April 2020 combined, there was an estimated USD47 billion, year-on-year reduction in total sales in US foodservice and drinking establishment channels as restrictions set in.

And with sales in full-service restaurants and bars not likely to return to 2019 levels until after 2021, the Q2 report, titled ‘COVID -19 and the US premium wine market Part 1’, highlights that wine producers selling into the US market would need to find new ways of engaging consumers in the future.

Rabobank senior wine analyst, Hayden Higgins, said total sales for US food service and drinking establishments for the first four months of 2020 were down an estimated USD68 billion, or 22 per cent.

“For wine sales, the percentage drop in the on-premise channel will be even higher, given these are more heavily reliant on full-service bars and restaurants, which performed even more poorly than limited-service restaurants,” he said.

Higgins said the US on-premise wine sales channel was comparatively small in volume terms, but important for access and margins.

“The on-premise channel typically accounts for less than 20 per cent of annual wine sales in the United States, but it’s extremely important, particularly for small, premium wine brands which sell a greater proportion of their product into restaurants and bars,” he said.

Australian wine export figures reflected the premiumisation trend for wine in the US, and Australia’s efforts to capture more of this market.

While exports of Australian wine to the US for the year ended March 2020 were down 11 per cent by volume, they were only two per cent lower by FOB value in AUD terms – suggesting product was directed at the premium market.

And despite the drop in total Australian wine export volumes to the US, Higgins said Wine Australia reported that the average price per litre rose to the highest levels since August 2009.

The report said, barring a vaccine, the on-premise US wine sale channel would likely take years to recover.

“Between government enforcement of social distancing measures, consumer reluctance to return on premise due to fears of contagion, and reduced business and tourism travel, many bars and restaurants may be forced to permanently shut their doors unless a vaccine is made available sooner than most experts expect,” Higgins said.

“Given these, and other, challenges, it’s anticipated the US foodservice industry will likely not return to 2019 levels until after 2021, and that the recovery would be led by limited-service restaurants and take-out/delivery, where there is less consumption of premium wines.”

He said larger wholesalers who had a greater proportion of sales in the off-premise, as well as more financial muscle, should be better placed to withstand these challenges.

Higgins said the US alcoholic beverage market’s three-tier system was particularly challenging for smaller wine brands.

“The US alcoholic beverage market operates under a three-tier system made up of manufacturers in the first tier, a second tier comprised of importers, distributors or wholesalers who purchase the product from the manufacturer, and a third tier of retailers,” he said.

“Under this system, producers are unable to sell directly to US consumers. It’s therefore essential brands work closely with their US distributors – who are in regular dialogue with retailers – so they can better understand changes in the way US consumers are purchasing wine.”

Implications for Australian winemakers
With the on-premise channel in the US struggling, Higgins said Australian wine brands would need to consider how their distributors were currently working with retailers, and also planning for future channel changes in the way consumers purchase wines.

For Australian producers vying for share in the US market, he said, digital strategies will become increasingly critical for sales success.

“While the on-premise sales are currently facing monumental challenges, the growth in e-commerce has been well-documented, and will provide an important opportunity for wineries seeking alternative growth strategies – both in the US, Australia and other markets,” Higgins said.

“We’re already seeing this process well underway in Australia, as wineries try to offset the decline in tasting room sales with e-commerce.

“Beverage companies are finding new, innovative ways to connect with consumers wherever they are, in a digital environment and to help drive sales across channels.”

For Australian wine exporters, Mr Higgins said, considering how e-commerce at the retail level and connecting to the US consumer would evolve – and how distribution partners were preparing for this – should be a core component of discussions, and were relevant conversations for other markets beyond the US.

“These questions include how they think about e-commerce within the organisation, whether they should buy or build an e-commerce team and where it should sit within the organisation.”

Higgins said Tsingtao, the Chinese beer company, provided one recent example of a beverages company that has used e-commerce to increase sales.

“Tsingtao used lockdown measures in China as an opportunity to further create a network of ‘community distributors’ – essentially social media influencers working on commission – that has been extremely successful by a number of measures,” he said.

The long-term plan to guide grape and wine businesses through challenging times

A landmark strategy released today will help Australian grape and wine businesses plan for a profitable and sustainable future over the next three decades. Developed by Australian Grape & Wine, in collaboration with Wine Australia, Vision 2050 looks beyond the immediate and significant challenges of bushfires, smoke and COVID-19 and sets a range of ambitious targets to strive for by 2050.
These include increasing growth in value to become a $15 billion industry, a nett-zero emissions target, and expanding on our export success to become the number one valued product in each key market we operate in.

“Vision 2050 comes at a critical time, as business are working to recoverfrom atorrid period of drought, bushfires, smoke and COVID-19,” said Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Australian Grape & Wine. “Our targets for 2050 are ambitious, but Vision 2050 provides the road map to achieve them, through innovation, hard work and a great product. We can grow value at all price points across the value chain and drive prosperity in our sector and across regional Australia.”

Australian Grape & Wine welcomes  bipartisan support for Vision 2050 from Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, the Hon. David Littleproud MP, and the Shadow Minister for Agriculture the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP.
“It is important to have a strategic vision totake you forward in these tough times and the better times –and they will come. You have to believe in that because you have to believe in your product. We know Australia makes great wine, and we should be proud of the industry for creating this very clear roadmap for the future” said Minister Littleproud.
Shadow Minister Fitzgibbon said “We all know that Australia makes the best wines in the world. But we are not without competition or challenges. We have to be on the front foot. You can’t meet all of your aspirations, no matter how good your reputation is, if you don’t have a plan or a roadmap. I congratulate Australian Grape & Wine on this document –it is a sound document, it makes sense and it sets the industry up well for the future.”
“The next step is to begin the work to make this strategic vision reality, to overcome the challenges we face and capture the opportunities ahead of us, to ensure a bright and exciting future for Australia’s grape and wine businesses, and also for the regional communities they support” said Battaglene.

 

Wine app developer looking for funding

A start-up, with a new augmented reality platform, has put out a call for investors from the wine, food & beverages, and packaging industries to back its funding round.

Winerytale has opened its Public CSF Share Issue Offer, seeking to raise up to $US1.25M to roll out its much-anticipated platform to wine markets in Australia, USA, New Zealand, and South Africa.

The Winerytale app, purpose built for a young adult audience, encourages users to discover the story behind each wine, which is brought to life with stunning augmented reality.

The ground-breaking concept, which also combines multimedia content, virtual interaction, and social media sharing is widely expected to capture the challenging millennials wine market.

Winerytale founding partner, Dave Chaffey, said the response to the App had been positive.

“It’s an exciting concept that consumers have absolutely taken a shining to,” he said.
“The next step for us is to make it accessible to a much larger audience.”

According to Chaffey, the Capital Raise would fund an aggressive rollout to key markets.

“There’s an enormous opportunity that we intend to capture. Raising capital enables us to move rapidly into new markets, to win over audiences before the first lot of competitors arrive on the scene.”

Despite the promising outlook, Chaffey is aware that raising funds during a global pandemic will be a challenge.

“We’ve already been bitten”, he said, “early this year, talks with two potential financiers were well advanced – then in March it all just stopped. It was the start of the pandemic, everyone was panicking. It was a time to lock down. It was just one of those things.”

Chaffey is keen to avoid a repeat, for one reason – it slows down his company’s move to market.

“A rapid roll out delivers a tremendous commercial advantage, and provides a robust foundation for growth,” he said. “This is why we’re calling on investment from within – from people established in, and around the wine industry, food & beverages, and even packaging industries. We make no secret of our ambitions to capture an emerging global market.”

New Australian technology to help prevent trillion dollar losses in wine industry

A new Australian-developed technology suite called eBottli has launched, with the potential to defend our wine export industry against the booming global trade in counterfeit wines.

EBottli delivers a suite of new tracking and blockchain data technologies, geolocating services for bottles or containers, and unique identifier labels for winemakers. Developed with the support of the South Australian Government, eBottli helps guarantee a wine’s authenticity, and helps address the issue of brand trust for Australian exports – a huge issue in markets such as Asia.

Currently, Australia’s wine exports to China alone are valued at $1.25 billion; but fake plonk is even bigger business. Potential losses to the global industry due to counterfeits are estimated to reach $4.3 trillion by 2022. In China alone, experts claim around 50 per cent of wine over $35 is fake, and up to 70 per cent of bottles sold are fraudulent. This is a major problem for our wine exporters, who are already reeling from bush fires, drought, and the threat of a post-COVID trade war with China.

Founded by French-born, Adelaide-based Nathalie Taquet, eBottli is now working with 12 clients across Australia, including vineyards in the quality wine regions of McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Premium artisan wine labels are particularly vulnerable to export fraud.

“It’s quite unbelievable the extent that wine counterfeiters will go to,” says Taquet. “Some will simply replace valuable wine with cheap substitutes in the bottle, with fake labels. They also add juice, and spices for added flavour. Other dodgy bottles contain no grapes at all, and even have harmful substances added – such as lead acetate, which is a sweetener.”

There are a number of anti-counterfeit technologies available to the Australian wine industry, but eBottli is the most comprehensive: it uses multiple tracking and geolocating technologies, is ready to use, has its own secure app, and is reliable and low-cost compared to others.

“The eBottli technology also allows wine drinkers to connect with the vineyard, and see the story of how the bottle came to be in front of them,” said Taquet. “Our ultimate plan is to have wine bottles arrive to the customer overseas, and then they can use their smartphones to scan the label and read its Australian story of origin.”

Taquet also envisages using technology as a major point of difference for her B2C business, the online wine club Bottli, which specialises in premium and luxury French and Australian wines. Bottli launched last year, and has already built a loyal wine-loving customer base.

Taquet and her family moved to Australia two years ago, and got their start in Sydney. The South Australian government provided attractive incentives to base eBottli in Adelaide, through the new Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) program, so Taquet and her family made the move. Although both businesses have been disrupted by COVID-19, Nathalie has a strong vision for the future for both Bottli and eBottli.

“We started Bottli to ensure Australians could access the best quality exclusive French and Australian wines,” said Taquet. “We deliver a niche selection of wines from smaller, boutique Australian wineries that do not supply major bottle shops along with some French wines, to customers once a month.”

Taquet said a family-owned winery in the Burgundy wine region in France grew her own passion for the industry.

“Our French family heritage and passion for wine guided us towards unique artisan winemakers. Bottli also offers wine concierge and sommelier services and we are able to track and source extremely rare and valuable bottles of wine from around the world on request,” said Taquet.

Before starting Bottli and eBottli, Taquet who has a PhD in Life Sciences and a background in science research, was working for Nestle Skin Health. She is on the Board of Wine Industry Suppliers Australia, and has future plans to move the eBottli technology into other produce export market.

Nanotech removes haze from white wine

Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, or Chardonnay – when you reach for your favourite white, it’s the clean, clear sparkle that first catches your eye. Or does it? When white wines look cloudy it’s a sign of protein instability, and a sure-fire way to turn customers away.

Research led by the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) in partnership with the University of South Australia , is ensuring white wines will always look their best as novel magnetic nanotechnology is proving to quickly and efficiently remove haze-forming proteins in white wine.

Funded by Wine Australia, the research demonstrates a collaboration, combining the AWRI’s knowledge in wine research and the capabilities in surface nanoengineering developed at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute.

Lead researcher, Dr Agnieszka Mierczynska-Vasilevsaid  the new technology shows promise as a valuable and sustainable alternative to conventional bentonite fining treatments, potentially saving the wine industry millions.

“Protein haze is a serious problem for the wine industry. Not only because consumers see it as a defect, but also because conventional bentonite treatments can cause significant wine volume loss, which is also reflected in the bottom line,” Mierczynska-Vasilev said.

“In Australia, the overall estimate of loss caused by bentonite fining is around $100 million annually, and globally, this equates to approximately $1 billion per year.

“Winemakers traditionally use bentonite to remove proteins and prevent haze formation, but as it is a clay, it swells in the wine solution and can lead to a loss of wine volume of approximately three per cent.

“Using this technology, winemakers could potentially remove haze-forming proteins safely and efficiently, without bentonite-associated volume loss, and importantly, could do so multiple times with the same nanoparticles.”

The new technology uses magnetic nanoparticles coated with acrylic acid polymers which, when placed in heat-unstable wine, attract and bind proteins to the nanoparticles’ surfaces. The particles are then drawn from the wine using a magnet, leaving behind a clarified product devoid of haze.

Tested on unfined 2017 Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay from South Australia, researchers found that the magnetic nanotechnology successfully removed 98 per cent of haze-forming proteins from wines in ten consecutive adsorption-desorption cycles, clearly indicating its ability for reuse.

“Unlike bentonite, a defining feature of this nanotechnology is its ability to be regenerated for re-application, without any adverse effects on the wine’s colour, aroma and texture compounds,” Mierczynska-Vasilev said.

“While there is still some way to go before the technology can be practically applied in wineries, and the need to obtain regulatory approval both in Australia and overseas, given the clear economic, sustainable and sensory benefits, this nanotechnology has a very strong potential for adoption – it’s absolutely a ‘watch this space’.”

 

WineDepot helps struggling wineries

With alarming reports that one-third of Australian wineries could go under from COVID-19 closures, WineDepot is throwing a lifeline to struggling wineries as they quickly pivot to online direct-to-consumer sales.

Australia’s 6,000 grape growers and 2,500 winemakers have been hit hard this year by bushfires, smoke taint and the lowest yield in seven years. On top of this, COVID-19 has had a negative impact on export markets, trade distribution, and cellar doors.

In response to these challenges, WineDepot has announced that it will be providing wine producers a support package of subsidised services to help them maximise their ability to trade during this challenging time.

“Never before have Australian wine producers faced a challenge like this,” said WineDepot founder and CEO Dean Taylor. “The silver lining is that consumers across the country are rushing to order wine and other essentials online for home delivery.”

This has certainly been true for Tasmania’s Josef Chromy Wines, who has been working with WineDepot to maintain strong sales during covid-19 closures.

“We saw a little bit of panic buying happening, particularly when the alcohol limitations started in some states,” said company spokesperson Amy Russell.

Other wineries, however have been slow off the mark. “We know of smaller producers who aren’t selling online and all of a sudden find themselves with no outlets at all.”

To support as many wineries as possible from going under, WineDepot is offering a support package that allows them to maximise their margins from online sales during this once-in-a-100-year event.

“Our platform allows wineries in regional areas to provide a fulfillment service that competes with that offered by the major retailers. With physical depots in each state of Australia, we manage everything so that a winery in Tasmania like Josef Chromy, can deliver the same or next day to customers in Sydney or any other capital city in Australia,” said Taylor.

WineDepot Cellar Door Support Package is valued at over $5,000 per winery and includes the following benefits:

  • $500 free credit
  • 3 months free storage
  • Free initial stock transfer into bulk storage
  • Delivery from just $7.95/case for metro areas
  • Waived platform access, set up and integration charges, usually $995

This is available to all Australian owned and operated wineries, who establish an account and move inventory in before the end of April, with no lock-in contracts or requirements to continue using WineDepot services after the free storage period ends.

“Partnering with WineDepot means we’ve avoided quite a few overheads,” said Russell. “Sitting down here on an island, we have additional challenges trying to get freight off Tasmania, especially at critical times like Cyber Monday and Christmas. Now we have that little bit of an edge in terms of already having stock in market that we can quickly dispatch and distribute.”

The direct-to-consumer sales market is estimated to be worth over $1 billion per annum and employs tens of thousands of people around the country. WineDepot hopes to also help protect this source of jobs, revenue and amenity in regional areas.

 

Non-alcoholic wine market set to expand

Surpassing a valuation of more than US$ 10 billion, the non-alcoholic wine market is projected to grow at an impressive CAGR of over 7 per cent during the forecast period. The beverage industry is undergoing a transformation with the rise of ‘healthier’ categories of non-alcoholic beverage variants such as non-alcoholic wine. Compared to traditional wine, low and non-alcoholic wine is soaring on popularity owing to the development of non-alcoholic wine which has more flavor, depth and sophistication and caters to a large segment of the population. Consumption of non-alcoholic wine and other beverages is increasingly becoming one of the mainstream trends which is shaping the global beverage industry. The convergence of these patterns is underpinning the exponential growth for the non-alcoholic wine market over the forecast period.

Key Takeaways of Non-Alcoholic Wine Market Study

  • Europe leads the non-alcoholic wine market, holding shares more than 40 per cent in 2018. The wine markets in Europe are well established with Italy and France having the highest per capita consumption of over 35 liters per person per year.
  • Although volume and value growth are modest in Europe, North America is anticipated to be the most important non-alcoholic wine market in the world with a growth rate of over 8 per cent.
  • In 2018, the alcohol-free segment comprised more than 50 per cent of the total share of the industry. Increasing adoption of these products as a form of sports drink has enhanced industry growth, especially among athletes.
  • Supermarkets represented more than 20 per cent of the total beer market. With several innovative ways to boost consumer spending on non-alcoholic wines, supermarket chains are thriving on increasing sales.
  • The online stores segment is projected to grow at the highest growth rate of over 9 per cent between 2019 and 2027. Inclination under the category of non-alcoholic wine to e-commerce and e-tailing is bringing about shifts in customer buying experience.

Good Pair Days offers compostable/ biodegradeable packaging

As the movement for sustainability continues unabated, more wine producers are moving towards farming and wine-making that is both good for the earth and marketable.

To support this industry growth and further the journey towards sustainability, Good Pair Days has taken the opportunity to redesign its packaging, removing all plastic.

Good Pair Days went on journey to come up with an innovative way to package wine, ending with the sugarcane plant, which is the world’s largest crop by production quantity, with over 2 billion tonnes produced annually.

After all the sucrose is extracted from the plant, producers are left with waste. Good Pair Days now repurposes that waste to give customer’s wines a protective bed to lie in when shipped to them each month.

Its new inserts offer protection to the wine. However, a  new insert alone wasn’t enough. Good Pair Days took the time to redesign their cartons, integrating a handle into the packaging structure to remove the use of plastics. This little change means a lot. All packaging can now be either recycled (in the case of its cardboard cartons) or composted (like its new inserts.)

No matter what customers do with Good Pair Days boxes, once they are done with them, they go back into the earth.

Non-alcoholic wine and beer market size worth $43bn by 2025

Rising prevalence of coronary diseases and heart related health risks has fueled the non-alcoholic wine and beer market, which has grown exponentially in the past few years along with improving living standards of consumers. Owing to the notable concerns of consuming excess alcohol, worldwide efforts to explore the benefits and production techniques for making alcohol-free or low-alcohol beverages, have escalated. The non-alcoholic wine and beer industry has profited form an incredible shift in preference by millennials and the disease-prone geriatric population, who wish to lower the probability of cardiovascular diseases.

Compared to alcoholic beverages, studies have shown that non-alcoholic beers exhibit boosted anti-oxidants, increased Vitamin B6 and slower blood coagulation, all of which help to prevent heart conditions. Additionally, benefits such as effective stress control and suitable for consumption by pregnant women have highly endorsed the global non-alcoholic wine and beer market.

A major cause of obesity and heart issues is unrestrained consumption of calories from beverages containing high sugar content. Boasting annual earnings of over $23 billion in 2017, the Non-Alcoholic Wine and Beer Market consists of products with significantly less proportion of calories than the alcoholic options. Consequently, a number of institutions and national level events have been promoting less or non-alcoholic beers and wine in their demonstration portfolio to support companies that aim to brew craft beers and non-alcohol containing wines.

Representing the industry penetration of the non-alcoholic wine and beer market, the Great British Beer Festival, happening every year since 1977, has recently confirmed that it will offer alcohol-free beer for the very first time that is produced by a Netherland-based craft brewer, Braxzz. The company sells both low and no-alcohol beers and the festival organizers expressed an interest due to the increasing importance of such products in the market, which has caused the sale of alcoholic drinks to decline.

Referring to 2018 statistics, the U.K. non-alcoholic beverages market grew by more than 15 per cent over the previous two years with health-conscious consumers looking for lower-alcohol content in drinks. Aldi, a major supermarket chain, in July introduced two non-alcoholic wines in response to the upsurge in demand. These wines are said to have less than half of the calories found in other alcoholic wines and are also cheaper. With the presence of several prominent liquor producers and having one of the highest consumption rates, Europe generates huge revenues for the non-alcoholic wine and beer market and registered a demand in the excess of 1 billion litres in 2017. U.K., Germany, Ireland, France and Italy are some of the biggest consumers of alcoholic drinks and the growing intensity of health problems in these countries will encourage the development of the Europe non-alcoholic wine and beer industry.

Non-Alcoholic Wine Market, By Material, 2025, (USD Million)
A number of popular brands such has Carlsberg, Heineken, Bernard Brewery, Erdinger Weibbrau, among others have dominantly stepped into the non-alcoholic wine and beer market. Seeking to capitalize on the swift expansion of the non-alcoholic wine and beer market, the world’s second largest beer producer Heineken has launched a non-alcoholic lager for the Irish market. Beer is the more preferred alcoholic beverage in Ireland having a 46 per cent market share in 2016 and contributed close to $2.7 billion to the country’s economy in the same year. The company claims that the alcohol-free lager, Heineken 0.0, has half the calories of regular beer and taster better than most other products in the category.

As the Heineken 0.0 experiences strong sales in Spain, Netherlands, Russia and many other countries, the non-alcoholic wine and beer market will undergo a significant transformation with other brands also attempting to sell health-friendly low-alcohol beverages through retail stores and ecommerce platforms. Over the past few years, researches have continuously been conducted to compare the effects of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks on the human body, primarily inspired by the explosion of cardiac disorders globally. A study performed on 67 men, who had diabetes or displayed three or more risk factors of heart diseases, involved observing the effect of red wine containing alcohol and one without alcohol. Interestingly, when the men drank alcohol-free red wine their blood pressure lowered down to levels which reduce the risk of heart diseases by 14 per cent and chances of stroke by 20 per cent.

Europe Non-Alcoholic Wine and Beer Market, By Product, 2018 & 2025
Global non-alcoholic wine and beer industry are driven by rapid technological development and innovations across the beverage sector. Industrialization and changing consumer lifestyle in the emerging economies of China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brazil has stimulated the demand for the product. Rapid improvisations in the brewery industry for alcohol content reduction including improved membrane-based technologies and vacuum distillation is enhancing the quality of the beverage. Moreover, rising demand for low alcohol content in various alcoholic beverages regarding suitability for occasional & health concerned consumers will foster the product portfolio expansion. Developing economies such as Mexico, India, China, Brazil, and Indonesia will substantially impact the product development owing to a larger customer base coupled with increasing preferences for low and no alcohol beverages.

All in all, the need for healthier drinks with enhanced antioxidants and electrolytes that can be incorporated in daily life has stimulated the non-alcoholic wine and beer industry, accentuated by disorders like liver cirrhosis, CVD and certain cancers that originate from alcohol abuse. Offering an affordable solution for people who want to socialize without consuming alcohol or those who are restricted from drinking alcohol-infused beverages, the non-alcoholic wine and beer market is anticipated to record an impressive 7.6 per cent CAGR from 2018 to 2024.

Wine company achieves 100 per cent renewable electricity

Pernod Ricard Winemakers has become the first large wine company in Australia to achieve 100 per cent renewable electricity. The commitment was achieved ahead of schedule and will ensure that all wines from the iconic Australian wine brands Jacob’s Creek, St Hugo and Wyndham Estate will be produced using electricity from renewable sources.

All of Pernod Ricard Winemakers’ Australian sites are now using renewable electricity thanks to the completion of Australia’s largest combined winery solar installation and a 10-year agreement to source renewable electricity.

Energy company AGL has installed more than 10,300 solar panels across the company’s two Barossa Valley wineries, with a predicted annual generation of 4,000 megawatt-hours, enough to power the equivalent of nearly 800 South Australian homes.

Pernod Ricard Winemakers has also become the first wine company in South Australia to be connected to both offsite wind and solar farms as a result of a landmark 10-year Virtual Generation Agreement (VGA) with wholesale electricity retailer Flow Power. The agreement means that the remainder of the business’ annual electricity requirements will be met by solar and wind.

Sustainability and responsibility is an important part of Pernod Ricard’s global strategy, with the group recently launching its 2030 sustainability and responsibility roadmap, which sets out eight ambitious goals aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Brett McKinnon, Pernod Ricard Winemakers’ Chief Operations Officer, said that the completion of the project demonstrates Pernod Ricard Winemakers’ commitment to be a leader in sustainability and responsibility.

“Pernod Ricard Winemakers is excited to be the first large wine company in Australia to produce wine using electricity sourced entirely from renewable sources, well ahead of our initial goal and other large wine companies.

“Being sustainable and responsible is an important part of our business, particularly as producers of wine – a product that takes its character from the land where it was grown. We want to minimise our impact on the communities where we operate, responding to the local climate and preserving the environment for future generations to come.

“Our journey began in 2016 with a pilot solar installation after we recognised that we had a huge opportunity across our wineries to harness the power of the sun through solar panels. Three years later, we are exceptionally proud to say that we are now sourcing all electricity from renewable sources, in alignment with our global ambition,” he said.

Pernod Ricard is the only wine and spirits company globally to be recognised by the United Nations as a Global Compact Lead, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and its Ten Principles for responsible business.

 

Murray River Organics offer price increases

Murray River Organics has announced up to $200 per tonne increase in prices for third party grower dried fruit as part of their Sunraysia Grower Water Support Package for 2020 Crop.

MRG chief executive Valentina Tripp said given the severe drought conditions in Mildura and the increasing expensive price of temporary water the Company wanted to provide Sunraysia growers with certainty for the coming season.

“We recognise the impact that the ongoing drought and water is having on growers in the Mildura area and as significant grower ourselves we understand the issues they are facing. As a result, at this critical time, we have decided to initially offer up to $200 per tonne on top of last year’s pricing increases to source irrigation water for key in demand varieties. We believe this will deliver much needed confidence to our growers.”

READ MORE: Dried vine fruit industry welcomes funding

Last year Murray River Organics led the industry when the Company increased prices to third party dried vine fruit growers by up to 25 percent as part of its plan to ensure a fair return for fruit commensurate with global pricing trends.

The price increases are part of the “Growing Together” program which has been very successful for MRG, with the intake of third-party grower dried vine fruit reaching 1240 tonnes in 2019, an increase of 15% on 2018.

This was a significant achievement considering the challenging growing conditions in Sunraysia in 2019 with many growers experiencing lower yields of up to 40 per cent.
Valentina Tripp said the current water issues in Mildura are still challenging for the agriculture industry with irrigation water from the Murray costing up to $950 a megalitre nearly double the average price paid last season.

“Encouragingly, demand fundamentals for dried vine fruit remain strong, with the global fruit market experiencing growth in demand.”

MRG is the largest dried vine fruit grower in Sunraysia with over 1000 hectares planted and is part way through a major transformation and turnaround journey. It has identified significant sales growth opportunities in Asia, Europe and the USA.

MRG’s Sunraysia Grower Support Package is open to Sunraysia Dried Vine Fruit Growers who sign up prior to Friday, 29 November 2019.

MRG also commits to hold 2019 pricing for the 2020 Harvest.

Handpicked Wines picks up silverware at wine awards

Handpicked Wines’ has won three trophies at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards recognising its flagship Capella Vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula. Handpicked Wines 2017 Capella Vineyard Chardonnay won the Douglas Seabrook Trophy for Best Single Vineyard Wine, the trophy for Best Chardonnay (class 2017 and older), and the Capella Vineyard took out the Kym Ludvigsen Trophy for Viticultural Excellence. 

Director of Winemaking Peter Dillon said the trophies were a vindication of major efforts to improve the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyard in Bittern, near the shores of Western Port, by focussing on soil health and vitality.

“We are seeing the rewards in so many ways – the increased energy in the vineyard is palpable, our wines are better than ever and our staff enjoy a healthy work environment and stimulating and satisfying work.

“I spend at least as much time in the vineyard as in the winery and building a strong teamwork ethic between the winemaking and vineyard teams has been key to our success.”

Karl Roberts has been Vineyard Manager at Capella Vineyard since Handpicked purchased the property in 2013, prior to that he was part of the team that planned and planted the vineyard in 2009.

“We were lucky to inherit Karl’s experience and knowledge of the property,” Dillon said. Roberts still remembers the site was horse paddocks before the vineyard was planted.

“Since our first vintage in 2013 Karl has accepted and grown with every challenge, including further study, new management practices and working cooperatively with the rest of our vineyard and winemaking teams.

“It’s been a privilege to be part of this site for more than 10 years and see it progress. It’s very satisfying to see how our use of organic principles such as inter-row crops and integrated pest management has improved the soil and reduced the need for pesticides and fungicides,” Roberts said.

Research such as soil pit analysis and a heavy emphasis on organics has guided management practices including planting of new clones, making compost teas, composting and mulching, inter-row planting, mechanical weed control, soil improvements and integrated pest management techniques.

Handpicked also owns vineyards in the Yarra Valley, Barossa Valley and Tasmania. Its 2018 Collection Tasmania Pinot Noir also picked up a gold medal at the Royal Melbourne Wine Awards, after scooping the pool at the 2019 Royal Hobart Wine Show, where it won trophies for Best Pinot Noir, Best Tasmanian Wine and Best Red Wine.

Gas the key to fledging micro-brewing industry

Craft brewing has taken off in Australia over the past five years. Driven by consumer demand for something a little different outside the main brands. These usually one- or two-person bands are making inroads into traditional markets right across
the country.

From Perth to Sydney, Adelaide to Brisbane, micro-breweries aren’t just putting down roots in the main cities, regional Australia is getting its fair share of beer aficionados, too. Some craft breweries are driven by wanting to be in an industry they love, others believe their unique blend of hops, barley, yeast and malt offer an exquisite taste to a discerning public, while yet others are hoping one of the big breweries will buy them out.

According to a 2018 report by IBIS World, the craft brewery market in Australia is worth about $520 million and is growing at a rate of about six per cent a year. Not only are the brewers themselves excited about the market’s potential, but those providing products and services can also see that the sector offers lucrative opportunities.

As well as the four basic ingredients, there are peripheral – but just as important – constituents that need to be taken into consideration, such as packaging, distribution and gases.

READ MORE: Putting wine on ice – gas’s role in winemaking

Gases are the unseen heroes of a good brew, something that Air Liquide’s Western Australian sales representative, Gavin Lee, is all too aware of. Having a background working at brewing giant Lion, has helped Lee gain momentum in supplying a variety of gases to the large number of micro-breweries popping up on the west coast. And it’s only going to get bigger, according to Lee.

“The micro brewing industry in Western Australia is going gangbusters at the moment,” he said. “There are more than 60 micro-breweries in Western Australia – ranging from Exmouth down to Albany. The majority are in the Perth area.”

Like wine-making, gas plays an important role, from the brewing of the amber fluid, through to it being dispensed at the tap. Oxygen is both the friend and enemy of the brewer. The only time it is necessary is when there is the oxygenation of the wort, which is the liquid extracted from the mashing process that occurs during the brewing of beer. Wort contains the sugars that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.
“Oxygen and light are the two things brewers don’t like. Dissolved oxygen in beer ruins the taste and flavour,” said Lee.

If gas was a workhorse its name would be carbon dioxide (CO2). It is used extensively to move beer around from one vessel to another, as well as during the bottling process. It has a multitude of uses, and because it is an inert gas it has no effect on the end product. Nitrogen can also be used but CO2 is the preferred option among most brewmasters. CO2 is mainly used in the carbonation process, giving the beer its fizz at the point of bottling, canning or kegging.

“When using it in the bottling process there is tank inerting,” said Lee. “Currently, if the brewer has the brew in the tank and there is a bit of head space in that vessel, they can pump CO2 on top of that beer so it blankets the surface, and that provides a protective layer for the beer, or they can use nitrogen.”

And when it comes to setting up the delivery mechanisms for the gases, Air Liquide has that covered, too. There are two main options.

“Typically we like to use copper piping because it won’t leak and it won’t corrode and can last for a very long time,” said Lee. “Or you can use food-grade nylon, which is a cheaper option, but over time it does have a tendency to spring a leak because it is under pressure.
“We have engineers and an installation team that are very experienced. We swapped out a vessel, down at Little Creatures in Freemantle, which had been there for the past 18 years.
“We swapped out to a 10-tonne vessel and within a couple of hours they were back in full operation without any down time.”

Another growing part of the company’s business is providing mixed gases for the dispensing of beverages in hotels and pubs throughout the state.

“It is often a mixed combination of CO2 and nitrogen,” said Lee. “It is the gas that pumps the beer through to the glass. As with the brewing process, it is inert so doesn’t affect the quality or the taste of the beer.”

Another reason Lee believes Air Liquide is making inroads into the market is that it supports the industry in other ways other than just providing gases.

“Air Liquide supports WABA – the Western Australian Brewing Association,” he said. “We try and support a lot of the brewers who start a business. Although some would argue gas is a small part of the process, it is a very important part. We offer cost-effective safe solutions and are able to provide the right product, at the right time and the right price,” he said.

“We’ve got fantastic aftersales service and logistics solutions to provide any type of gas delivery – whether it be in cylinders, skid tanks, mini-bulk or bulk vessels. All ALIGAL products we supply to breweries and wineries are of food-grade quality and our CO2 is FSSC 22000-certified, guaranteeing maximum quality and food safety.”

The right brew for beverage and distillery flooring

The craft beer and distillery market in Australia is worth in excess of $4 billion and growing. Although currently dominated by North American brands, more exciting new craft brewers and distilleries are setting up rapidly throughout the country, with up to 600 brands now being available.

The Independent Brewers Association (IBA) estimates that there will be double-digit growth of 24.2 per cent for local craft beer through the liquor stores over the next 12 months, proving Australia has a growing appetite for quality beer and spirits. Wealthy investors and bankers also view the market as a key opportunity with the likes of Gerry Harvey recently investing $20 million to build Australia’s largest whisky company.

Similar to the building and construction of a winery, breweries and distilleries have parallel challenges in getting the floor coating just right.

The brewing process is subject to constant wear and tear and spills. This is driven by steam and boiling water creating a large swing in temperatures that the flooring needs to withstand. Following on from the production process, forklifts and pallet jacks are used to transport ingredients and finished brews to delivery trucks. This constant traffic movement can cause the floor to crack and peel and result in dangerous trip hazards, as well as a build-up in bacteria. A seamless heavy-duty, non-slip epoxy floor from a company like Roxset Health and Safety Flooring will protect from accidents and inhibit growth of bacteria and provide ease of cleaning.

READ MORE: Flooring meets strict food code requirements

Another key consideration with the final coating is erosion. Sugar solutions used in wine making and brewing rapidly erode concrete, which can leave the surface pitted and damaged resulting in expensive downtime and repairs. It also creates a hazardous working environment for workers.

Breweries, distilleries and wineries have a lot of rules and regulations they are required to follow, not just in terms of how they run overall, but their set-up, too.

Important requirements they must meet include:
• A brewery floor needs to be made of non-porous material, with no cracks and gaps.
• Flooring must have anti-microbial properties to prevent collection of bacteria and other harmful organisms and meet HACCP Compliance.
• Floor coating must be moisture and chemical resistant and not degrade quickly due to repeated exposure.
• Floor coating must work well in both wet and dry conditions.
• Floor coating should be non-slip and have low environmental impact.

The SE Floor Coating Solution from Roxset is a specialised tailored system to suit high impact wet areas for the food and beverage industry. Key clients over the past 30 years include, Ned’s Whisky, Capital Brewing, Vasse Felix Winery and Voyager Estate.

For consumers, breweries and distilleries are a cool place to hang out and see how the beverage is made and to sample offerings. But what they do not realise is the level of detail, which goes into every choice made. From the brewing of equipment to the flooring, everything needs careful consideration.

Roxset has the expertise and history to make sure all hygienic and safety concerns are met in distilleries, wineries and breweries. It works with clients so it can find a solution that will mean the floor surface meets strict Australian standards and makes for a safe and healthy workplace for employees.

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