Wine Australia gets broader powers to protect the nation’s wine reputation

New regulations, effective this week, give the nation’s wine export regulator Wine Australia broader powers to protect the reputation of the country’s wine exports.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said that the new regulations included a number of changes, the most important being the capacity to assess whether an exporter was ‘fit and proper person’.

‘Australia’s wine exports continue to climb and our reputation for delivering on quality is a very important part of that growth’, Mr Clark said.

‘These new regulations will extend Wine Australia’s power to do more to protect Australian wine’s reputation overseas by ensuring the bona fides of potential and existing exporters.

‘Unfortunately, it’s a fact of life that copycats and counterfeiters can move in when they can leverage somebody else’s good reputation to make a buck – left unchecked the damage accrues not just to an individual brand but to the reputation of the nation targeted and its other brands’, Mr Clark said.

Wine cannot be exported from Australia without approval from Wine Australia and Mr Clark said that the new regulations gave Wine Australia the authority to deny the approval of shipments where a product could not be lawfully sold in the country to which it would be exported. This could include preventing the export of a wine from Australia that infringed intellectual property-related laws in the destination country.

Additionally, exporters will no longer be able to export on behalf of companies or individuals that are not themselves eligible to hold an export licence (such as where a licence has been cancelled).

Other aspects of the regulations will be liberalised. For example, to cut red tape for exporters there will no longer be a prohibition on placing a vintage indication on innovative wine products such as flavoured wines.

The regulations have also been modified to allow the continued use of grape varieties that are also geographical indications.

Big Australian presence at China’s largest wine fair

China’s largest and oldest wine trade fair – the China Food and Drinks Fair (CFDF) in Chengdu – held from 18 to 24 March, was marked by an amplified Australian presence with 60 wine brands and 20 wine regions exhibiting under the Wine Australia banner thanks to the support of the $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package.

Established in 1955, the CFDF attracts more than 100,000 wine importers and buyers from China’s regional cities, and is widely regarded as the leading Chinese trade fair in the wine sector.

Located in Sichuan Province – the economic powerhouse of western China – the fair saw a queue of thousands gather outside the CFDF entrance to sample some of the best wines from around the world.

Attendees were treated to Australian wine tastings and master classes, along with networking opportunities and a thought-provoking seminar to generate excitement about Australian wine.

Wine Australia’s Regional General Manager, China, David Lucas, said the Chengdu Fair was one of the largest platforms in the region for showcasing wine.

“That’s why, with the package’s funding support, we organised events and activities to reach an even greater audience,” he said.

Lucas said importantly a number of the Australian exhibitors had achieved their objective of meeting potential new distributors through their presence at the show.

The regions represented at Chengdu included: Barossa Valley, Blackwood Valley, Coonawarra, Clare Valley, Grampians, Heathcote, Henty, Hunter Valley, Hilltops, Langhorne Creek, Limestone Coast, Margaret River, McLaren Vale, Nagambie Lakes, Padthaway, Riverland, Southern Highlands, Yarra Valley and Tasmania.

Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Treasury Wine Estates embrace online retail

Global wine companies, Baron Philippe de Rothschild (BPhR) and Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) have announced a new e-commerce collaboration and partnership with leading online retail platform, Tmall, to enhance brand building, supply chain efficiencies and consumer experiences in premium wine.

Celebrated at a launch event and press conference on March 8 in Shanghai, the event was attended by Chairman of the Supervisory Board of BPhR, Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, TWE Chief Executive Officer Michael Clarke, Tmall President Jet Jing, and Maggie Zhou, Managing Director of Alibaba, Australia and New Zealand.

As part of the agreement, wine brands from the BPhR portfolio including Mouton Cadet and Escudo Rojo will become available on TWE’s flagship Tmall store, enabling exclusive distribution and marketing of its premium French and Chilean brand wines in Mainland China.

“Our partnership with TWE, one of the world’s leading wine companies, as well as Tmall, China’s most influential e-commerce platform, will go a long way to help us grow in one of the most dynamic markets in the world – China. Working hand in hand with TWE, our joint efforts are underpinned by shared value of excellence and commitment. Together, we underline our intention to continue to expand on a fast-growing strategic market,” said Philippe Sereys de Rothschild.

As the latest agreement in Alibaba’s pursuit to help brands capitalise on the ‘new retail’ opportunity in China, the strategic collaboration will also see Alibaba leverage its outstanding big data capability to bring its online ecosystem, offline.

“The cooperation between TWE, BPhR and Tmall is not only benefited from the outstanding growth trends in online consumption, but also from Alibaba’s big data capabilities, brand Omni-chain solutions and new consumer experiences created by new retail online-offline strategies,” said Tmall’s President Jet Jing.

At the event, Tmall showcased some of the innovative new retail technologies it is making available to the alcohol industry including Tmall cloud shelf and the Tmall vending machine for alcohol. Through intelligence technologies such as “Pop-up Smart Store” and “Brand Databank”, Tmall will build up a set of new retail facilities to enable TWE to accurately identify consumers’ needs, promote R&D for new products, optimise supply chain networks and improve the consumption experience for customers.

“We look forward to working closely with our partners to deploy technologies such as contactless payments, cloud shelf and Augmented Reality in the future, that will help to promote TWE wines and products under BPhR, and further realise new retail possibilities. As the consumer experience continues to improve, we also see a role for us to support with the optimisation of brand building, warehouse management and marketing costs,” said Maggie Zhou.

With proven success marketing Australian and US wines to China, TWE added a French country-of-origin portfolio to its offering in 2017, and in January 2018 commenced importing and distributing BPhR’s French and Chilean wines to help meet demand from Chinese consumers who enjoy wines from both the Old World and New World.

 

Guidelines for wine tourism grants now available

The Australian Government has released the guidelines for the $10 million Wine Tourism and Cellar Door Grant program, before applications open on 1 July 2019.

Eligible wine producers will be able to optimise visitors’ experiences at their cellar doors with an annual grant of up to $100,000, aimed at boosting the wine and tourism sectors.

The funding opportunity comes in addition to the $10 million of International Wine Tourism State and Competitive Grants, which were made available through the $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package (the $50m Package) and closed on 2 March 2018.

Total funding under the cellar door grant program will be capped at $10 million each financial year.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Anne Ruston said, “this program recognises the huge investments that wine businesses make in local communities and the value they add in attracting international tourists.

“With the growing demand for outstanding food and wine as part of the travel experience, it’s important that our wine regions maintain their competitive edge,” she said.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said “the efforts to boost our international wine tourism experiences are great for our regions.

“Research by Wine Intelligence indicates a shift among winery visitors from only tasting wines to wanting to participate in an overall experience.

“Between the $50m Package activities and the cellar door grants program, we’ll be seeing some exciting wine tourism initiatives rolled out over the next few years as regions maintain their competitive edge.”

 

The cellar door grant is part of a coordinated suite of measures developed with the Australian wine sector after extensive consultation on reforms to the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) rebate arrangements. It complements the components of the $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package, which are being delivered from 2017–18 to 2019–20.

Vinexpo New York is back – and so is Australian wine

A cast of legendary Australian wines are being showcased to more than 3,000 trade and media professionals at Vinexpo New York, 5–6 March, a two-day trade fair featuring 400 wine producers.

After an absence of more than 10 years, Vinexpo New York will channel its own ‘Oscar-like’ dynamism with major wine-producing countries around the world gathering to present their craft to some of the key players in the USA wine market.

The event features master classes from sector leaders and an extensive conference program focused on the latest trends in the wine sector.

The star-studded line-up of wines includes more than 50 Australian wine brands from 20 wine regions, with exhibitors presenting their products to the top buyers in North America.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Anne Ruston said, “the event is an opportunity to present our great Australian wines to the leading buyers and distributors in the world’s largest wine-consuming market.”

“It’s exciting to see a renewed interest in Australian wine in the US market.

“Australia’s efforts to reengage the US trade and media at events like Vinexpo are really starting to have an impact,” she said.

Australia’s presence at Vinexpo New York includes a Wine Australia pavilion, two master classes and a 90+ Tasting Bar, hosted in partnership with Wine Spectator, where attendees can taste more than 30 wines that received 90 points or higher.

Wine Australia’s involvement in the event is supported by A$360,000 of the Australian Government’s $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package (the $50m Package) – a targeted three-year plan to increase wine exports and enhance the perception of Australian wine in the USA and China.

A key objective of the $50m Package is to grow Australian wine exports to the USA by 6 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) per annum by 2019–20.

 

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.

Discovery shows wine grapes gasping for breath

University of Adelaide researchers have discovered how grapes “breathe”, and that shortage of oxygen leads to cell death in the grape.

The discovery raises many questions about the potentially significant impacts on grape and wine quality and flavour and vine management, and may lead to new ways of selecting varieties for warming climates.

“In 2008 we discovered the phenomenon of cell death in grapes, which can be implicated where there are problems with ripening. We’ve since been trying to establish what causes cell death,” says Professor Steve Tyerman, Chair of Viticulture at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus.

“Although there were hints that oxygen was involved, until now we’ve not known of the role of oxygen and how it enters the berry.”

Professor Tyerman and PhD student Zeyu Xiao from the University’s Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production have identified that during ripening, grapes suffer internal oxygen shortage. The research was in collaboration with Dr Victor Sadras, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), and Dr Suzy Rogiers, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wagga Wagga.

Published in the Journal of Experimental Botany, the researchers describe how grape berries suffer internal oxygen shortage during ripening.  With the use of a miniature oxygen measuring probe – the first time this has been done in grapes – they compared oxygen profiles across the flesh inside grapes of Chardonnay, Shiraz and Ruby Seedless table grape.

They found that the level of oxygen shortage closely correlated with cell death within the grapes. Respiration measurements indicated that this would be made worse by high temperatures during ripening – expected to happen more frequently with global warming.

“By manipulating oxygen supply we discovered that small pores on the surface of the berry stem were vital for oxygen supply, and if they were blocked this caused increased cell death within the berry of Chardonnay, essentially suffocating the berry. We also used micro X-ray computed tomography (CT) to show that air canals connect the inside of the berry with the small pores on the berry stem,” said Xiao.

“Shiraz has a much smaller area of these oxygen pores on the berry stem which probably accounts for its greater sensitivity to temperature and higher degree of cell death within the berry.”

Professor Vladimir Jiranek, Director of the University of Adelaide’s ARC Training Centre for Innovative Wine Production, said: “This breakthrough on how grapes breathe will provide the basis for further research into berry quality and cultivar selection for adapting viticulture to a warming climate.”

The study was supported by the Australian Government’s Industrial Transformation Research Program with support from Wine Australia and industry partners.

Chris Hemsworth gets a taste of Jacob’s Creek winemaking

The 2018 vintage at Jacob’s Creek got the VIP treatment, as acclaimed actor Chris Hemsworth joined the team to get an insider’s view on creating one of the world’s most unique wines, Double Barrel.

During his first visit to the Barossa, South Australia, Chris spent a few days getting to know the Jacob’s Creek winemaking team and the celebrated wine region that’s home to the winery. He experienced a firsthand insight into what it takes to bring together this exceptional wine, Double Barrel, which is finished in aged whisk(e)y barrels.

The star of Thor, The Avengers and 12 Strong, Chris recently provided his vocal talents for the new Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Two Barrels, One Soul commercial, which was released in late 2017.

Hemsworth commented that it’s been a privilege to see much of Australia and the world, but getting to the Barossa during vintage is an experience he won’t forget.

“We’ve been warmly welcomed in the Barossa by the Jacob’s Creek team who have taken us into their home and shown us what makes this place and its wines world class,” he said.

Chris summed up his thoughts on the wines in the range: “As someone who travels a lot I’m always looking for things that can remind me of home and a glass of Double Barrel does just that.”

Jacob’s Creek Chief Winemaker Ben Bryant hosted Chris at the winery, taking him on a tour of the vineyards and barrel room, tasting wines directly from the barrel, blending wine, and coopering the all-important barrels.

“Chris really has a passion for Aussie wine and was keen to meet the team behind creating Jacob’s Creek. We brought together those involved in growing the grapes and making the barrels alongside our winemakers to spend time having a chat over a harvest barbecue at our historic Jacob’s Creek Estate,” Bryant said.

The development of the Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel range has been a complex undertaking that has taken years to perfect. Following a great deal of experimentation, the winemakers discovered whisk(e)y barrels produced the best results for what they wanted to achieve. Matured in wine barrels, the wine is finished in aged whisk(e)y barrels for a richer, deeper and smoother finish.

The award-winning Double Barrel range brings to life the spirit of innovation and expertise of the Jacob’s Creek winemaking team. The range includes a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz Cabernet, alongside a new release Chardonnay – the first white wine for the range.

$11.1 million to support Australian vineyard profitability and management

Wine Australia and PIRSA’s South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) have signed a 5-year $11.1 million co-investment agreement that will support the profitability of Australian grape and wine sector through a dedicated research and development program in disease management, vineyard resilience and clonal performance.

Under the strategic partnership agreement, Wine Australia will contribute $6.5 million and SARDI $4.6 million over 5 years, allowing for longer-term strategic investments that will benefit levy payers and the whole Australian wine sector.

Key grape and wine sector priorities to be addressed under this agreement include:

  • developing new and improved management strategies to prevent and control grapevine trunk diseases
  • developing strategies to manage fungicide sprays in a way that minimises the development of resistant populations of fungi
  • developing innovative irrigation practices to overcome the difficulties in maintaining vine productivity under dry winter conditions
  • understanding the causes of vintage compression and developing vineyard management options that increase the proportion of fruit harvested at optimal maturity
  • establishing Cabernet Sauvignon trials for future evaluation of clonal response to climate and management; and
  • maintaining germplasm collection to support national viticulture projects.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said, ‘This agreement with SARDI reflects the high level of strategic alignment between our priorities for the sector and SARDI’s Strategic Plan to support the profitability of Australia’s grape and wine community.

‘Through this agreement, Australia’s growers and winemakers will benefit from more sustainable management of pests and diseases, and an excellent Australian-specific range of practical vineyard management practices to minimise the impact of climate change. It will also maintain capacity for biosecurity and future proof Australia’s grapevine germplasm collection.’

This agreement is the third in a series of bilateral partnerships between Wine Australia and major research institutions under a new research and development funding framework that aims to allow the Australian grape and wine community’s research partners to be better able to make strategic investments and plan for the future, maintain technical capabilities in key areas, and have greater flexibility to pursue promising research results within an overall agreed framework.

Australian wine excites at Australia Day Tasting, London

Australian wine was celebrated at this week’s Australia Day Tasting (ADT) in London, Wine Australia’s largest trade tasting internationally.

The tasting in London on Tuesday 23 January showcased nearly 1100 wines from 41 different regions. Over 1000 visitors attended from across the United Kingdom (UK) and European wine trade, including buyers from multiple retailers and independent specialists, sommeliers, journalists and educators.

Thirty-eight winemakers and winery owners flew over to pour their wines and meet the trade – Andrew Hardy (Petaluma), Scott McWilliam (McWilliams), Jeremy Dineen (Josef Chromy), Martin Spedding (Ten Minutes by Tractor), Robyn Pfeiffer (Pfeiffer Wines), Toby Porter (d’Arenberg), Christian Dal Zotto (Dal Zotto) and Mary Dickinson (Dickinson Estate) amongst others. Also attending from Australia was Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark who launched the ‘State of the Sector’ report.

Clark reported that in the 12 months ending December 2017, Australian wine exports globally increased by 15 per cent to A$2.56 billion, the highest growth rate since 2004.

Guests tried the latest vintages of wines from iconic brands such as Penfolds, Torbreck and Yalumba and made new discoveries like Dickinson Estate, Eccentric Wines and MÉRITE that are seeking distribution. Of the 243 wineries featured, 18 producers are not yet in market in the UK.

Visitors also participated in master classes – Margaret River presented by Sarah Ahmed and McLaren Vale presented by Richard Hemming MW – and joined a seminar on rotundone in Shiraz led by Con Simos from The Australian Wine Research Institute.

The quantity and variety of wines at ADT points to the growing interest and demand for Australian premium wines in the UK. It also echoes the findings of Wine Australia’s latest Export Report, released on 23 January, which shows that exports to the UK at A$20/L and above increased by 4.5 per cent to A$8.8 million. UK off-trade sales figures are also positive: Australia is still number one in the off-trade and value is growing; it was up 2 per cent in the 12 months to November 2017 (IRI report).

Ahead of the ADT in London, Wine Australia launched a new State of the Sector report which takes a novel approach by drawing on parallels between Australian wine and Australian music.

Clark said, “Both Australian wine and Australian music are unique expressions of a diverse Australian culture and landscape. Both are distinctly Australian while also universal. This new State of the Sector report explores the shared history of wine and music in Australia, their evolution and global appeal.”

 

Australian wine exports booming

Australian wine exports increased by 15 per cent to $2.56 billion in the 12 months ending December 2017, according to Wine Australia’s Export Report.

The 15 per cent increase in the value of exports is the highest annual growth rate since 2004 and it was also a record-breaking year for volume, with exports growing by 8 per cent to 811 million litres, a calendar year high.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer, Andreas Clark, said the positives continued with the sector achieving a 7 per cent increase in average value per litre free on board (FOB*) to $3.16, the highest level since 2009.

“Growing demand for premium Australian wine, particularly in Northeast Asia, increased the value of bottled wine exports by 17 per cent to $2.1 billion, while the average price per litre for bottled wine grew by 3 per cent to a record $5.63,” Clark said. 

Wine exported in bulk also experienced price increases, with total value increasing by 10 per cent to $440 million and average value per litre increasing by 6 per cent to $1.03, the highest average value since 2012.

Clark said it was notable that exports of wines priced above $10 per litre grew by 29 per cent to a record $738 million.

Australia’s top five markets by value in 2017 were:

  • China mainland (33 per cent of total export value)
  • United States (18 per cent)
  • United Kingdom (14 per cent)
  • Canada (7 per cent), and
  • Hong Kong (5 per cent).

Australia’s top five markets by volume in 2017 were:

  • United Kingdom (28 per cent share of total export volume)
  • United States (21 per cent)
  • China mainland (19 per cent)
  • Canada (8 per cent), and
  • Germany (5 per cent).

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Govt says Canada treating Aussie wine unfairly

The Turnbull Coalition Government has initiated formal World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement action against what it claims are Canada’s discriminatory measures affecting Australian wine.

Australia has taken the first step in commencing formal consultations with Canada regarding measures Australia believes impose arbitrary and disadvantageous restrictions on the sale of imported wine in Canadian grocery stores, inconsistent with Canada’s WTO obligations.

This step responds to concerns from the Australian wine industry regarding the Canadian measures, which negatively impact trade with Australia’s fourth largest export market for wine, currently valued at $185 million.

Australia strongly supports the multilateral trading system, with the WTO at its heart. One of the key strengths of the WTO is its disputes system, which ensures WTO Members comply fully with their commitments.

While it would have been preferable to resolve this issue bilaterally, it is appropriate to commence dispute proceedings given the lack of progress.

Australia last initiated formal WTO action in 2003.

House of Arras wins ‘Best Sparkling Trophy’ at another capital city wine show

Tasmanian label House of Arras has now scooped the ‘Best Sparkling Trophy’ at every capital city wine show in Australia this year.

Ed Carr, House of Arras Winemaker, is celebrating this clean sweep after the results of the Royal Hobart Wine Show last night where they won four trophies in total; Best Wine of Show, Best Tasmanian Sparkling, Best Tasmanian Wine and Best Sparkling for the Blanc de Blanc 2008.

“These awards have topped a superlative year for House of Arras. Such endorsement across a broad range of judges is an absolute statement of quality and the entire viticulture and winemaking team is extremely proud of this achievement.

“It is particularly pleasing to be awarded ‘the home state’ trophy for the ‘Best Tasmanian Wine’ in Hobart from a field of strong competition across many premium cold climate wine styles,” said Carr (pictured).

The seven Best Sparkling capital city trophies were split between the House of Arras Grand Vintage 2008 which took home three trophies and Blanc de Blancs 2008 which received four.

Last week, House of Arras also received the ‘Best Australian Producer’ Trophy at the prestigious International Wine & Spirit Competition. An esteemed global competition, this is the first time that the top Australian producer trophy has been awarded to a sparkling wine brand.

With these kinds of accolades under his belt, it’s no wonder that wine critics have dubbed Carr the “Godfather of Australian Sparkling”.

“It is absolutely fantastic to see our philosophy of fastidious viticulture and winemaking come to fruition and receive these awards from such discerning wine judges in recognised quality competitions both here in Australian and overseas,” said Carr.

House of Arras is part of the Accolade Wines portfolio, which features other premium brands including Grant Burge, Hardys, St Hallett and Croser.

Fruit for House of Arras is sourced across Tasmania’s premium cool climate regions, ideal for long, slow and consistent fruit development.

The entire portfolio of Arras sparkling wines is held back between 3-10 years to give them the distinction, quality and maturity they require to be world-class said Carr.

 

 

UK merchants wowed by Australian wine experience

From 2 to 11 October, a group of nine buyers from UK and Ireland independent wine merchants, plus Drinks Retailing News’ Editor Martin Green, explored the diversity and innovation of Australian wine through a series of personalised tours, tastings, master classes and winemaker dinners.

Hosted by Wine Australia’s Emma Symington MW, the program included Hunter Valley and Orange tastings in Sydney, a Barossa and Clare Valley tasting at Yalumba, and visits to Canberra, Yarra Valley, King Valley, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale.

Guests discovered Mediterranean and alternative grape varieties, learnt more about the influence of cool climates, explored sub-regionality of Barossa, and met artisan and pioneering young guns like Mac Forbes and Lark Hill’s Chris Carpenter. The group was also taken on a guided tour of The Australian Wine Research Institute where they saw how research and development supports innovation in Australian wine and took part in a faults master class.

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Alongside various wine themed activities, the visitors also participated in the Victorian Salami Festival at Dal Zotto, a Milawa Cheese tasting, toured Four Pillars Gin Distillery and enjoyed a hot air balloon experience over the King Valley.

Having explored a broad range of regions and tasted more than 400 wines during the trip, feedback was extremely positive from guests who were impressed with the quality and diversity of wines. The group also valued the commercial opportunities that the trip presented, with many talking about new listings as a result of their visit.

“It was a fantastic trip, the best I’ve ever done, which is saying something as I’ve been on a few. I’ve been to Australia three times now, but every time there’s something new to discover,” said Ruth Yates, Managing Director and Buyer of Corks Out.

“Australia forms a very big part of the Corks Out portfolio – it’s the biggest still wine category ahead of France – and I think it will continue to grow, there’s so much potential.”

 

Rochford Winery to represent Oceania at China shopping festival

Shanghai City, China is a long way from the rolling hills and vineyard sprawled landscape of the Yarra Valley, but that’s not stopping Rochford Wines Sales Manager, John Bright from delivering a speech at the Double 11 Global Shopping Festival, talking all things online shopping, wine and Alipay.

It’s a world first for Rochford to be representing Oceania at the event, which will be held in the days surrounding China’s largest online shopping day on November 11th.

Having worked with Rochford for 13 years, Bright has been involved in driving the focus on wine sales and growing Rochford’s inbound tourism profile. Bright said, “I am thrilled, excited, bewildered even, to be representing Rochford Wines and indeed ‘Australia, New Zealand and Oceania’ at the 2017 Alibaba Double 11 Global Shopping Festival in Shanghai this week.”

The festival is hosted by Alibaba Group and will include a Countdown Gala produced by Emmy-winning Oscars producer David Hill that will host a range of celebrities, performers and speakers and will be televised and streamed live across the globe to billions. The event will highlight Alipay, which is the largest cross border payment provider in Australia, bridging the gap between Australian merchants and Chinese consumers. Alipay has proved to be an essential resource for Rochford and has made it easy for Rochford to sell and deliver directly to their many Chinese visitors.

Rochford’s involvement in the festival will shine a spotlight not only on the Rochford Winery, but the Australian tourism and retail industry as a whole and will provide an amazing opportunity for Rochford to reach new global markets.

New agreement for NSW wine sector

As part of the 2017 NSW Wine Awards celebration, a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NSW Wine Industry Association and the NSW Government has been announced, signaling a positive step forward for the state’s wine industry.

The MoU has been signed by Tom Ward (pictured, right), President of the NSW Wine Industry Association, Minister Niall Blair MLC (pictured, left), Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water and Minister for Trade and Industry, and Minister Adam Marshall MP, Minister for Tourism and Major events and Assistant Minister for Skills.

Tom Ward says, “This document represents much hard work done behind the scenes and a much closer working relationship between us and the government. It is vital for an industry that not only provides regional communities with sustainable employment and boosts their economic activity but also contributes $1.6 billion to the total NSW economy and plays an important role in our state’s $38 billion tourism sector.”

Minister Blair said, “This Government knows the value of the wine industry to our state, and especially to the regional communities it supports.

“We’ve signed this MoU to ensure the NSW wine industry is in the best possible position to capitalise on trade opportunities, tourism initiatives and research and development, while growing at home and abroad.”

Under this MoU, and in partnership with industry, the NSW Government will undertake to focus on the areas of export markets development, regional wine tourism, and research and innovation.

This includes helping NSW wineries maximise the opportunities outlined in the recent Export and Regional Wine Support Package (ERWSP) announced by the federal government, finalising and releasing the NSW Food and Wine Tourism Strategy and Action Plan (2020) as soon as possible, and improving support for and promotion of inbound visitation across regional NSW, including visitation of wine regions and cellar doors.

The commitments in this MoU also cover using and promoting NSW wines at NSW Government functions and venues and showcasing NSW wine during any overseas Ministerial trade missions.

Finally, the MoU stipulates ongoing high level meetings between government and wine industry every six months at a minimum. Both the NSW Wine Industry Association and the NSW Government are committed to action the new MoU and continue to create programs and opportunities that will contribute to a strong, profitable and growing wine industry.

Australia’s small winemakers report strong growth

Australia’s small winemakers have reported strong growth in revenue and production across all sales channels for the second consecutive year, according to the findings of Wine Australia’s Small Winemaker Production and Sales Survey 2016–17 report published today. 

Both production and revenue for small winemakers (categorised as those crushing up to 500 tonnes) grew by 10 per cent in 2016–17. Small winemakers contribute an estimated 8 per cent to the total Australian winegrape crush and $1.3 billion of wine sales.

The vast majority of wine sales for Australia’s small winemakers are in the domestic market; with retailers accounting for almost half of all wine sales and cellar door nearly one third.

Cellar doors and export markets were identified by small winemakers as presenting the best business opportunities over the next five years.

Wine Australia CEO Andreas Clark said the findings of the report show that the growing enthusiasm for Australian wine in export markets and for regional wine tourism experiences has boosted the confidence of small winemakers.

‘The report shows that while export markets currently account for 14 per cent of their wine sales on average, our smaller winemakers are optimistic about the increasing sales opportunities from export markets and visits to cellar doors’, he said.

‘The Australian Government’s Export and Regional Wine Support Package will provide further opportunities for wine export growth, with applications for the Wine Export Grants anticipated to open in January 2018, and the state-based and competitive grants leading to thousands more international tourists visiting our wine regions.’ 

The report highlights that ‘cellar door’ was the fastest growing sales channel with an average six per cent growth and increased investment in other attractions and facilities for visitors, which is consistent with recent consumer research by Wine Intelligence indicating a shift among winery visitors from solely wine tasting to an overall experience.

Key insights from the report include:

  • production increase of 10 per cent on average, in line with the overall increase in the national vintage crush, to 106 million litres
  • small winemakers account for 35 per cent of domestic sales value and 10 per cent of export sales value
  • 73 per cent of small winemakers reported increased revenue, 10 per cent reported no change and 16 per cent reported a decline in sales
  • the retail channel is the largest domestic channel for small winemakers, accounting for 45 per cent of wine sales on average, with cellar door sales second at 30 per cent, and
  • other direct to consumer channels – such as own website, online retail through a third party and mail order/wine club – together account for 17 per cent of wine sales.

Awards for Chinese professionals promoting Australian wine

The top Chinese wine professionals who excel in promoting Australian wine in China have been honoured at the Wine Australia China Awards 2017.

This year, the celebration of Australian wine was amplified with the inaugural Australian Wine Fair in Shanghai, which showcased the unique and diverse styles of Australian food and wine to media, wine enthusiasts and influencers.

“The China Awards and Australian Wine Fair provide an excellent platform to celebrate those who excel in promoting Australian wine in China, as well as developing a deeper appreciation for Australia’s premium wines amongst wine influencers,” said Andreas Clark, Chief Executive Officer of Wine Australia.

“Mainland China is Australia’s most valuable export market and the continued growth we are seeing is a testament to the great work being done by the wine trade. We appreciate their dedication to promoting Australian wine and their enthusiasm to educate and encourage more people to try the wide array of premium Australian wine on offer.

“The Australian Wine Fair, a new initiative introduced as part of the Australian Government’s Export and Regional Wine Support Package, saw Australian winemakers from 10 wine regions travel to Shanghai to showcase their wines, host master classes and educate Chinese wine professionals and wine lovers about the diversity of our wines,” he said.

At the China Awards, 13 business representatives and individuals were celebrated for their outstanding contribution promoting and raising awareness of Australian wine in Australia’s most valuable export market.

Rose Scott, CEO of Summergate, one of the winners of the Best Importer category, said, “The annual Wine Australia China Awards is one of the most important events in the wine calendar in China each year. We feel honoured to be recognised and we would like to thank Wine Australia in China and our brand partners for their support and the contribution they have all provided to assist with the development of this key future global wine market.”

The China Award ceremony attracted 230 guests, including wine importers, retailers, hoteliers, sommeliers, wine education and training professionals and media, and approximately 500 guests attended the inaugural Australian Wine Fair.

2017 world wine production falls, while Aus production grows

World wine production, excluding juice and musts, is likely to reach 246.7 millions of hectolitres (mhl) in 2017, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.

This figure, an 8 per cent drop compared with 2016 and one of the lowest levels for several decades, reflects unfavourable climate conditions in the major Western European wine producing nations, Italy, France, and Spain.

Closer to home, In Oceania, 2017 Australian production reached a sustained level of 13.9 mhl, a 6 per cent increase compared with 2016. Production was on the up for the third year in a row. In New Zealand, production slightly declined in 2017 (-9 per cent), yet this was in reference to a record production the year before. It nevertheless remained high (2.9 mhl).

Italy confirmed its place as the leading world producer for the third year running in 2017 (39.3 mhl, -23 per cent/2016), followed by France (36.7 mhl, -19 per cent/2016) and Spain (33.5 mhl, – 15 per cent/2016).

This reduction was recorded in the main EU countries. Germany (8.1 mhl, -10 per cent /2016) and Greece (2.5 mhl, -10 per cent /2016) fall in line with this downward trend. Bulgaria (1.1 mhl, – 2 per cent /2016), saw a production level in keeping with its potential.

Portugal (6.6 mhl), Romania (5.3 mhl), Hungary (2.9 mhl) and Austria (2.4 mhl) were the only countries to record a rise compared with 2016. After two poor harvests, Romania returned to a high level of production.

The United States, with 23.3 mhl vinified (-1 per cent /2016), saw a high level of production for the second year running. One doubt remains: the estimated wine production is based on USDA forecasts for grape production, relating especially to wine grapes, from August 2017 and does not therefore take into account the potential consequences of the recent fires in California (October 2017).

In South America, wine production is likely to show quite an increase compared with 2016, despite the fairly low temperatures at the end of the 2016 year.

Argentina recorded a rise in its production with 11.8 mhl vinified in 2017 (+25 per cent/2016), after the 2016 harvest was one of the lowest in recent years.

 

 

Eric Vivian Thomson receives Victorian wine honour

Eric Vivian Thomson, fondly known as Viv Thomson amongst wine industry peers, has been announced Legend of the Vine Victoria at the annual WCA Melbourne Wine Show Awards Lunch. Thomson comes from a long line of winemakers and received ‘Legend of the Vine’ status for his service to the wine industry as one of Australia’s longest serving winemakers.

“Viv has made an outstanding contribution to the wine industry and is a highly respected figure amongst his wine peers in Australia,” said WCA National Chair Angus Barnes.

“His list of accolades, including his 2014 Order of Australia Medal, is a true reflection of where his reputation sits within the industry, and why he is recognised as Victorian’s newest Legend of the Vine.”

Thomson descends from one of Victoria’s most successful wine families dating back five generations. Born and raised in Swan Hill, Thomson moved to Great Western as a six-year-old boy where his grandfather owned Concongella Vineyards in Great Western. Winemaking has always been a part of Thomson’s family – in 1920 his grandfather purchased Best’s Great Western where Thomson has spent majority of his career managing operations and acting as chief winemaker.

A graduate of the acclaimed Roseworthy College in South Australia, Thomson spent three years studying agriculture before deciding it would be worth taking a crash-course in winery analysis. After returning from two years abroad, he joined his father Eric running the vineyard and making wine at Best’s Great Western, and managed two wineries 230 kilometres apart from each other, one at Great Western and one at Lake Boga.

Since entering the winemaking role in 1962, he has completed 51 consecutive vintages and was acknowledged for his service to the wine industry, awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the General Division as a part of the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

During the Christmas period, Thomson would close the doors of Best’s Great Western as there was no cellar door to manage. He spent a week behind closed doors examining each barrel to ensure it was meeting industry expectations and would virtually plan a 12-month program for the business before pre-harvest.

Best’s now operates across six vineyard blocks including Rhymney Vineyard, Concongella, Thomson Family Block, Nursery Block, Barts and Marcus and The Hill Block. The winery’s Concongella and Nursery Block was planted in 1868 by Henry Best, Best’s Great Western original founder.

Thomson now considers himself the elder statesman of Best’s Great Western since handing over the reins of the business to his eldest son Ben. Viv has been recognised by the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival as a “legend” for his services to the wine industry and was also President of the Victorian Wine Industry Association for many years.