Australia’s First Families of Wine heading back to US

As part of its continued commitment to spruiking the quality Australian wine message at home and around the globe, this month Australia’s First Families of Wine (AFFW) is heading back to the USA for the second time in two years, as part of Wine Australia’s Spring Roadshow – Australia Up Close.

AFFW is made up of twelve of this country’s oldest multi-generational, family owned wineries who between them share 1380 years of collective winemaking experience across 50 generations and 16 regions around Australia.

Following on from this month’s budget announcement of the allocation of a $50 million Export and Regional Wine Support Package over four years to grow the value of wine exports and wine tourism at home and abroad, it appears that AFFW is ahead of the curve.

Launching in 2009, AFFW has already independently funded launches in the UK; Canada, twice; top tier cities in China and Hong Kong and they are heading back to the USA later this month, to educate media, trade and consumers about quality Aussie wine.

This announcement is a boon to the Australian industry overall.  And it plays to what AFFW stands for: rich history, provenance, quality and as the custodians of some of the most iconic vineyards in the land, AFFW is perfectly positioned to tell their tales of the past and point to their innovation for the future.

Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resource in the Turnbull Government, has long been a champion of the Australian wine industry and is delighted to have been instrumental in securing the $50 million funding for the next four years, to focus Wine Australia’s efforts in export markets and consolidate success at home.

Senator the Hon Anne Ruston said, “It’s been great to work with the wine industry to secure this funding and help put more Australian wine on dinner tables around the world. We’re an exporting nation – we’re not going to get rich selling to ourselves. The commitment of Australia’s First Families of Wine to this effort is a stellar example of the industry moving quickly and decisively to leverage the opportunity this funding represents.”

 

Vic Govt confirms support for Victorian Liquor Subsidy

Wine Victoria has welcomed confirmation from the Victorian Government that the Victorian Liquor Subsidy (VLS – also known as the Cellar Door rebate) will remain intact and unchanged.

Wine Victoria Chair, Damien Sheehan said Victoria was now the only state with this level of industry support and was just another demonstration of how the Government was supporting Victorian winemakers and making sure Victoria was the best place to do business.

“Wine Victoria took a proactive role in engaging with Members of Parliament (MPs) and responsible departments on this issue,” Sheehan said.

“We wanted to make sure MP’s clearly understood how the rebate was being invested and the significant knock-on economic impacts – particularly in regional areas,” he said.

When reviewing the VLS, Wine Victoria engaged expert assistance to examine the subsidy and evaluate how the rebate was being used.

They found that subsidy recipients generated $680 million in gross state product annually and supported almost 5,000 ongoing full-time equivalent jobs (direct and indirect).

“This ongoing investment into cellar doors is so important – the Victorian visitor experience is often focused on big natural icons, but for a strong economic impact to be realised, providing access to value-add experiences such as an exceptional cellar doors is key,” Sheehan said.

“With the continuation of this subsidy, the Victorian wine industry looks forward to working in partnership with the Government on their tourism objectives by delivering first class wine experiences.”

Chinese winemaking students flock to Adelaide

Scores of Chinese students are heading to South Australia to study winemaking to fuel China’s huge domestic wine industry.

The University of Adelaide has seen an almost three-fold increase in Chinese enrolments in the past five years in its winemaking courses, which are the most comprehensive university courses for viticulture and oenology in Australia.

The university in the South Australian capital offers a four-year Bachelor degree in Viticulture and Oenology as well as a postgraduate Diploma and Masters courses.

It has about 280 students across the three courses, 41 per cent of whom are Chinese. In 2016 there were 114 students from China studying Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Adelaide compared with just 44 in 2013. Numbers for 2017 are yet to be finalised because of the upcoming mid-year intake.

“That’s a significant change in five years,” School of Agriculture, Food and Wine Associate Professor Paul Grbin said.

“About 90 per cent of our international students now are from China and that’s primarily in our post graduate programs but we have a reasonable percentage in our undergraduate programs too.

“Our numbers have grown overall as well so we are not getting fewer international students from our traditional markets such as the United States, Canada, South Africa, South America and a few Europeans.”

According to the Organisation of Vine and Wine Australia was the fifth largest wine-producing nation, making close to 1.3 billion litres. China was sixth with an estimated 1.15 billion litres.

China last year overtook the United States to become the biggest buyer of Australian wine following a 40 per cent growth in sales for 2016. Exports of wine to mainland China rose from AU$370 million in 2015 to $520 million in 2016.

Despite the huge size of the imported wine market in China, about 80 per cent of the wine consumed there is produced domestically.

“The local industry now has a bigger vineyard area than Australia and they are striving to improve and part of that is a thirst for knowledge so they’re moving to countries like Australia to learn best practice,” Assoc Prof Grbin said.

“There’s definitely a sense when I talk to the (Chinese) students that there’s excitement around the development of the industry in China and there are plenty of good opportunities for them when they graduate to work not only in China but in the international wine trade.

“There’s certainly a recognition in China that wine has become an important business proposition so it’s on the strength of that that we have seen an increase in students coming not only for us in oenology and viticulture but also in the wine business program.”

Post graduate student Huiyi Hu came to Adelaide to gain more practical winemaking experience.

“I studied winemaking for four years in China from 2010 but I didn’t learn how to make real wine,” she said.

“I wanted to know more about winemaking so I came here where the course is good.

“Here I make my wine in a winery and solve any problems with group discussions, rather than just following instructions.”

In December, the University of Adelaide revealed preliminary plans to expand its teaching and research winery to cater for growing demand.

The university has also had remarkable success with a free online MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses), World of Wine: From Grape to Glass, which has been studied by almost 80,000 students from more than 160 countries.

The course, originally offered on the edX platform and also affectionately known as Wine101x, has been translated into Chinese in partnership with Chinese MOOC platform XuetangX.

In China, more than 4600 students enrolled in the first six-week course and another 14,300 have enrolled in the ongoing self-paced course.

“It’s not a direct marketing ploy to increase the number of students coming to the university to study wine but it certainly does raise the university’s profile in China,” Assoc Prof Grbin said.

“It’s also about providing a service – certainly as China develops its wine culture there’s a real desire to understand wine a bit more and this MOOC is a pretty straight forward and simple approach to develop a solid understanding of how grapes are grown and wine is made.

“I can only envisage that it will more and more popular as it becomes more widely known that it’s there.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production and 75 per cent of its premium wine. The state is home to world-renowned regions such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale and iconic brands including as Penfolds Grange, Jacob’s Creek , Hardys and Wolf Blass.

Chinese students accounted for almost 40 per cent of the 32,000 in international students who studied in Adelaide in 2015.

Greece’s best wines coming to Australia

For the third year in a row, Greece’s leading winemakers and educators return to Australia 19 – 26 June 2017 to showcase up to 80 of the country’s best and latest wines.

First-time visiting winemakers will join wineries from previous tours at a series of trade and consumer tastings in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide including the most in-depth masterclasses ever on Greek wines led by Greece’s second-only and newest Master of Wine, Yiannis Karakasis MW.

Up to 20 winemakers will show a huge range of wines including Greek indigenous varieties such as xinomavro, agiorgitiko and mavrotragano plus new-wave wines from the next generation of winemakers emerging from oldest culture of wine in the world. With one of the world most diverse micro-climates and vast array of indigenous varieties, Greece produces wines with a true sense of place and is finally earning recognition across the world for wines that are truly unique.

Consumers will also have the opportunity to taste and meet the people behind the wines at two events, the Greek wine extravaganza, Oinofilia, at Melbourne’s Meat Market on Saturday, 24 June (held by the team behind Pinot Palooza and Game of Rhones) and at Georges on Waymouth in Adelaide on 21 June.

Wines of Greece President, Vangelis Argyris said the winemakers were looking forward to returning to Australia for the third time.

“There is unprecedented demand for Greek wines with a 30 per cent increase in sales in Australia over the last two years. Our native grape varieties are leading this demand and we’re hoping to bring some new varieties in June that haven’t been widely seen in Australia before.

“We are thrilled Australia has fell in love with Greek wines and so excited for this third tour in as many years.”

Wines of Greece is also running private masterclasses for retailers, distributors, hotels and restaurant groups throughout their time in the country.

New wine distribution company for Australia

Société Jacques Bollinger (SJB), Henschke and Villa Maria have come together to create House of Fine Wine, an Australian distribution company that will offer nationwide supply of premium wines from a single, focused portfolio.

The new company was established after the sale of Fine Wine Partners to Accolade earlier this year. The three family-owned wineries – who all had seats on the advisory board of Fine Wine Partners – are bringing together a customer-focused model that will offer the Australian market premium wines from the three well- known wine brands.

Etienne Bizot, sixth generation of the family and great-nephew of Lily Bollinger, oversees the family’s estates as President and Chairman of Société Jacques Bollinger.

“Represented in the Australian marketplace now for over 100 years, our houses Champagne Bollinger, Champagne Ayala and Cognac Delamain are delighted to continue their close working relationship of a quarter of a century with the Henschke family and more recently Villa Maria’s Fistonich family in the House of Fine Wine,” Bizot said.

The new producer and customer-focused distribution model is unique in that it will allow the three wineries to build their brands through a tightly configured portfolio that places quality at the core of the business. In addition, they’ll dedicate a large percentage of their efforts to the fine wine retail and on-premise side of the business.

The new company will officially launch on 1 June 2017 and will build upon the existing infrastructure developed by Villa Maria with a dedicated sales and marketing team, customer services, supply chain and operational support.

South Australian wine makes it to Eurovision Song Contest

Graham Norton’s Own range of wines, made with New Zealand’s Invivo Wines, has been named as the official partner of Eurovision 2017.  The range includes Graham Norton’s Own South Australian Shiraz, a blend of grapes from the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek, creating a big red that perfectly captures the Aussie spirit.

This is the first time that Eurovision has chosen a wine brand as a partner.

The range also includes the Graham Norton’s Own Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and the Graham Norton’s Own “Pink By Design” Rosé, which is a fresh and lively combination of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris grapes, also from the Marlborough region.

The Graham Norton’s Own brand has grown way beyond expectation, from a limited launch of just 12,000 bottles in 2014 to an expected 1.5 million bottles this year and now sold in 5 countries worldwide.  Recently, Norton’s Shiraz and Rosé won gold medals at the Sydney International Wine Competition. Norton blends his wine every year with guidance from the Invivo team and he is also a part owner of the winery.

“Eurovision is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously, just like our values here at Invivo. We’re the ideal wine to go with crazy hair, outrageous dresses, way too many wind machines and more white suits than should be legal without a prescription,” said Invivo’s cofounder.

Chinese trade reps immerse themselves in Australian wine

Sixteen influential wine trade and educators from the China mainland have wrapped up an immersive Australian wine experience hosted by Wine Australia as part of the China Trade Group Visit from 16 to 25 April.

The 10-day visit was designed to give guests insight to the unique characteristics of each region through winemaker dinners, winery tours, tastings, master classes and informal education sessions with regional experts.

Guests also experienced vintage first-hand with a full immersion into grape harvesting and winemaking at wineries in the Margaret River (WA), Great Southern (WA), McLaren Vale (SA), and Barossa (SA).

All the guests have already demonstrated an on-going commitment to promoting Australian wine in China and many of them were winners at the 2016 Wine Australia China Awards.

Jassie Dong, Deputy General Manager of Shanghai Pran Wines was one of the guests who took part in the experience.

“I was also very happy to join the trip with so many influential wine industry insiders. I learned a lot from them and found this trip very rewarding,” said Dong.

“Wine Australia has done a terrific job on promoting premium Australian wine culture! I will continue to recommend more excellent wineries to the China market, and I believe the next three years will be a golden time for premium Australian wine soaring in China.”

Seppeltsfield to welcome Marco Pierre White

Seppeltsfield is preparing for Marco Pierre White to visit the estate this month, as part of the 2017 Tasting Australia festival, which runs from Sunday 30th April – 7th May.

Pierre White will be joined by estate residents Owen Andrews (Seppeltsfield events executive chef) and David Swain (FINO Seppeltsfield) to lead an Italian feast – one of the opening events of Tasting Australia.

To be held in Seppeltsfield’s 1920s Vintage Cellar, in which a production and full service function kitchen was recently added, the Italian feast will also welcome Mitch Orr (ACME, Sydney), Jock Zonfrillo (Restaurant Orana, Adelaide) and Matteo Carboni (Casa Carboni, Barossa) as feature chefs. The event sold out just hours after having been announced.

Touted as the world’s first ‘celebrity chef’, Pierre White, who will headline a new television series Hell’s Kitchen Australia this year, famously became the youngest person to be awarded 3 Michelin stars (at 33 years). Gordon Ramsay and Curtis Stone are among the now-household gastronomic names who were mentored by Pierre White.

Whilst details of the event’s menu are being tightly held, Tasting Australia ambassador and FINO Seppeltsfield Proprietor Sharon Romeo said that guests would be in for an Italian feast of “generosity and authenticity”.

“Our entire kitchen and front of house team are excited to work alongside Marco for this event – he has been an inspiration to so many chefs who have gone on to be culinary legends of their own”, said Ms Romeo. “We feel so thrilled to have him in our home here at Seppeltsfield.

Clare Valley Shiraz named ‘2016 Wine of the Year’

Taylors Wines has received the ‘2016 Wine of the Year’ award for its 2012 Taylors St Andrews Shiraz from the World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists (WAWWJ).

The 2012 St Andrews Shiraz was ranked highest by WAWWJ for the wine’s award wins during 2015, including Best Shiraz at the Shanghai International Wine Challenge, Double Gold at the Tasters Guild International, and Gold at the Decanter International Wine Challenge.

Since its release in 2014, the wine has tallied an impressive 25 gold medals and one trophy from wine shows both in Australia and abroad.

In addition to the ‘Wine of the Year’ recognition, Taylors is the only Australian winery to hold its position as one of the five most awarded wineries in the world, an honour it has claimed four years running. Out of the Top 100 most awarded wines in the world, Taylors has more wines than any other Australian winery, amassing a total of four wines on the list.

The ranking comes as Taylors Wines celebrates a milestone of achieving its 200th Gold Medal win for the 2016-17 financial year, recently claiming two Double Gold and one Gold at the Berlin International Wine Competition and Gold at the Great American International Wine Competition.

Commenting on this year’s report, Taylors Wines third-generation Managing Director Mitchell Taylor said: “We’re honoured and humbled to be recognised yet again by the WAWWJ. To not only remain as one of the top five most awarded wine producers, but to take the top spot as most awarded wine in the world is an exciting accomplishment for our small team.”

“The 2012 St Andrews Shiraz is a significant wine in our history, going on to be one of the most awarded wines we’ve ever made.”

Other Australian wineries landing in the Top 100 Wineries of the World for 2016 include Jacob’s Creek (10), McGuigan Wines (19), Wolf Blass Wines (25), Hardys Wines (29), Gatt Wines (32), De Bortoli Wines (43), McWilliam’s Wines (46), Penfolds (66), Fox Creek Wines (89), Mr. Riggs (91), and Shingleback (92).

The World Ranking Wines and Spirits (WRWS) is commissioned and evaluated by the WAWWJ every year with the purpose to develop an internationally recognised ranking system for the numerous wine shows and competitions held around the world. First founded in 1996, today the WAWWJ consists of 13,500 wine journalists, bloggers and judges representing 80 different countries.

 

Wine exporters looking to consolidate on a stellar year

The year 2016 was a great one for Australian wine exports. Matthew McDonald takes a look at what was behind this success and what exporters need to do to keep the wine flowing.

Beginning in the mid 2000s, the Australian wine industry entered a difficult period. The combination of low grape prices and the entry of a lot of new producers resulted in a grape oversupply and poor results.

But last year things turned around.

“There’s definitely a strong degree of positive news that’s coming through for the wine sector, especially compared to what’s happened in the last 10 years or so,” Andreas Clark, CEO of Wine Australia told Food & Beverage Industry News.

According to Wine Australia, in 2016 the value of Australian wine exports grew by 7 per cent to $2.22 billion and volume increased by 1 per cent to 750 million litres. In addition, the average value of exports grew by 6 per cent to $2.96 per litre, the highest level since 2009.

The strongest growth came from the most expensive wines – those priced $10 per litre or above free on board (FOB) – which were up 19 per cent to a record $574 million.

So who is buying all this wine?

China is buying more and more of it. Exports to the nation were up 40 per cent to $520 million in 2016. “China’s now our number one market by value overall. It surpassed the US during the course of last year,” said Clark.

Of course, he added, there were exports to other countries too.

“We have seen strong growth in other parts of Asia as well. Free trade agreements have given a bit of a boost into markets like Japan and Korea, and other parts of South East Asia as well have had some strong growth,” he said.

The results in traditional markets, the US and the UK, were mixed.

“The US has been hard for many years but we returned to 3 per cent growth there last year,” said Clark. “So we’re starting to get some traction back there, but it’s a hard market and there’s a long way to go. We starting to see a lot of the media commentary coming through that’s a lot more favourable and talking up the Australian offer so that’s really good.”

The result in the UK was less positive. While it remains the number one European destination for Australian exports by volume, in 2016, the value of exports to the UK declined by 5 per cent to $355 million while volume dropped by 5 per cent to 236 million litres.

According to Clark, the “headwind of Brexit” affected this result.

“…that’s taken a hit in the short term. Long term, hopefully that will all wash through and we can return to some normalised trading there. But when you’re an exporter you’ve got to deal with the vagaries of the global economy,” he said.

Varieties

As the graphic (below) illustrates, in 2016 export success was varied among the wine varieties.

“We’ve had difficulties with Shiraz in the US recently. People are looking at other opportunities there such as Cabernet or Chardonnay which are strong… or looking at red blends: not so much a varietal descriptor but the red blend category has been strong in the US recently,” said Clark.

“People like the flavour of Shiraz but it’s had a bit of adverse publicity over the past few years so you need to come at that from different ways to make sure you’re meeting consumer need.

“On the other hand Shiraz is very popular in China, so it’s a matter of understanding what’s happening in the market and meeting the needs of the market appropriately.

“It’s taste or just consumer preferences. It can be a combination of taste and how you present the wine as well.”

Export Report_YEDec 2016

China

According to Clark, there are a number of factors behind the success in China.

“Fundamentally Australia’s well positioned as a food and beverage provider,” he said. “Our products are held in high regard. There’s a strong reputation for our ‘clean and green’ credentials.

“They like the taste profile of Australian wine and the free trade agreement has certainly given that some impetus.”

Tariffs on Australian wine imports to China, which were as high as 14 per cent, are now down to 5.6 per cent and will be removed completely in a few years.

The rise and expansion of China’s middle class is also crucial. Indeed, when metrics like population size and current per capita consumption of alcohol are considered, the potential for growth in wine exports to the world’s most populous country is huge.

Clark chooses not to get carried away with the possibilities.

“Some exporters have had great success there, some have found the market challenging and haven’t got any traction,” he said. “There is a strong growth story there. It’s exciting and all the fundamentals indicate it should continue to occur, but it’s not a uniform golden outcome for all.

“You can’t have all your eggs in the China basket. We need to cultivate other key markets as well and support them because in the long run that will put us in a much healthier and more sustainable position.

“At the same time it is a hard market to do business in. You have to get regularly into the market to understand their routes to market and partners and understand their brand proposition so they can have success there.”

What now?

Clark often returned to this theme of the continued need for hard work. If Australian wine makers want to take full advantage of the current success, he stressed, they can’t afford to slacken off now.

“What we need to consistently do is be out there working the shoe leather and putting those messages into the market,” he said.

“Others have got a bit of a head start on us in recent years or jumped ahead of us and we’ve got to give them a compelling reason to come back to Australian wine if they’ve deserted it in previous years.”

Keeping up such efforts can be difficult, especially for smaller players. The Australian wine industry is quite fragmented and has a lot of small producers, so the situation is not ideal.

However, as Clark pointed out, this diversity is also a strength.

“What that large spread of producers provides is a real interest and diversity to the Australian offering. It’s not monolithic,” he said. “We have 65 wine regions and a wide range varieties and styles.”

“Once people start unravelling that they are blown away. It opens up a whole new world to them.”

Australian War Memorial selects wine partner

The Australian War Memorial has appointed Canberra District based winery Shaw Vineyard Estate as its wine partner.

Memorial Director Brendan Nelson said he was extremely pleased to have a local wine maker of the calibre of Shaw as the exclusive wine sponsor.

“The Australian War Memorial endeavours to ensure every visitor to this place walks away with an experience they will never forget. Excellence in the visitor experience extends beyond those who wander the galleries and reflect on the artefacts on display, to those who choose the Memorial as a place for their corporate function or event,” Dr Nelson said.

“Shaw Vineyard Estate has an excellent reputation for quality, which befits the status of what the Australian War Memorial represents.”

Shaw Vineyard Estate Owner/Winemaker Graeme Shaw commented, “To be offered a partnership with such an Honoured and Dignified institution as the Australian War Memorial is something that makes me and my family incredibly proud.”

“The Memorial is a manifestation of the Australian character and we believe our wines, that are full of Canberra character, will be an ideal fit.”

 

Australian wine goes west to the Chengdu Fair

The Wine Australia pavilion saw first-hand the growing interest in premium Australian wine at the Chengdu Fair, one of the largest food and wine fairs in China.

It’s estimated that 100,000 people visited the Fair this year, making it one of the most important commercial opportunities for exporters in what is now Australia’s most valuable wine export market.

With a pavilion that was a third larger than last year, 21 exhibitors showed more than 50 brands from more than 20 wine regions across 5 states, highlighting the high quality and diversity of Australian wine.

On-site tastings hosted by certified Australian wine educators Terry Xu and Noel Chi attracted large crowds.

A networking dinner with local trade and media helped exhibitors build and strengthen relationships beyond the Fair.

“Australia is the fifth largest wine exporting country in the world. We have the best Shiraz in the world. When you hold a glass of Australian wine, you are holding a glass of Australian terroir,” said Christopher Lim, Australian Consulate General in Chengdu, who was a guest at the Fair.

The Wine Republic was one of the exhibitors at the Wine Australia booth.

“The Wine Republic is delighted to be here, at the Wine Australia booth. I think it’s just another of the many great activities organised by Wine Australia in China. Out here in China’s west, for us it is really a valuable experience and a way to reach people in the wine business in many other cities; not just the major eastern cities of China, but across a large part of China,” said Campbell Thompson, CEO of The Wine Republic.

 

Leading Aussie winemaker becomes global ambassador

The man behind Australia’s most famous wine has been given the task of promoting premium wines from his home state to the world.

Penfolds’ chief winemaker Peter Gago has today been appointed South Australia’s inaugural Great Wine Capitals Global Ambassador a year after South Australia joined the international organisation.

The Ambassador Program will see the appointment of wine and tourism leaders from each member city, opening the possibilities for collaboration and boosting the profile of the network.

Home to iconic brands such as Penfolds, Hardys, Jacobs Creek and Wolf Blass, South Australia is the country’s leading wine state, producing 50 per cent of all bottled wine and almost 80 per cent of premium wine.

Gago said Adelaide’s Great Wine Capital membership presented many exciting possibilities for its wine regions.

“Elevating the state’s wine profile on an international stage increases the exposure for our premium wine labels and raises the bar for us as a wine capital – we’re now benchmarking against regions like Bordeaux and this gives us the opportunity to learn from their experience and insights,” he said.

Last year, the Royal Institution of Australia awarded Gago a prestigious Bragg Membership for his contributions to the science of winemaking.

Penfolds produces Grange, the nation’s most celebrated wine.

A new partnership was also formed between the University of Adelaide and KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, France, to further accelerate wine industry education, innovation and research.

The international partnership will also extend to students, teachers and researchers with opportunities to participate in joint projects as well as study tours and overseas exchange programs with the internationally-acclaimed French wine region.

According to the Organisation of Vine and Wine, Australia was the world’s fifth largest wine-producing nation in 2016 behind Italy, France, Spain and the United States.

There are 18 wine regions in South Australia, including the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Limestone Coast and Riverland.

More than 200 cellar doors are within an hour’s drive of the city centre of Adelaide.

In 2014–15, South Australia’s wine industry generated almost $1.8 billion in revenue, with $1.2 billion of this from wine exports.

Connecting wine regions with early career researchers

Wine Australia is inviting early career researchers to apply for funding through the Incubator Initiative, a new program that will fund a series of regionally focused research projects.

The Incubator Initiative connects early career researchers with Australia’s wine regions to lead a co-funded locally-focused research project from priorities identified by Wine Australia’s Regional Program Partners.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said the program will foster stronger links between wine regions and research and development, and support emerging researchers who wish to move into the grape and wine sector.

‘Wine Australia funds research and marketing activities on behalf of the Australian wine sector and we’re passionate about getting the best people to work in our grape and wine community’, he said.

‘The Incubator Initiative is an exciting opportunity to further develop the connections between our research communities and our unique wine regions, while providing practical solutions that are locally-focused.

The Incubator Initiative is open to all early career researchers working for an Australian-based research organisation. Early career is defined as someone who has less than five years postdoctoral or post-Masters research experience.

Up to $20,000 is available to undertake projects identified by wine regions across Australia, with this funding matched by a co-contribution – cash or in-kind – from the research organisation where the researcher is employed.

The Incubator Initiative is a three-way partnership between Wine Australia, regional associations and research organisations to support our grape and wine community and encourage early career researchers.

Applications close on 18 April 2017.

Spanish saga to take centre stage at Seppeltsfield winery

A Seppelt family member’s account of Sherry yeast culture being transported in secret to Australia in the 1930s will be at the heart of a Spanish-themed food and wine event, to be held at Seppeltsfield winey.

On Thursday April 20th, as part of the 2017 Barossa Vintage Festival, Seppeltsfield will offer the next chapter of its pop-up restaurant series, unearthed@seppeltsfield. The estate’s vast Apera (Australian Sherry) collection will be celebrated, alongside a Spanish-influenced food menu.

Held in the estate’s 1882 Vinegar Haus, the event will take inspiration from fourth generation Hilton Mervyn Seppelt and his (somewhat secretive) manoeuvre to secure flor yeast culture from a Spanish bodega. Hilton’s son, Bill Seppelt will be in attendance to recall the story of his father’s enterprising efforts, which became the starting point for Seppeltsfield’s now irreplaceable Apera collection.

Seppeltsfield will complement the historic Spanish context with a modern twist – contemporary Apera-spiked cocktails will be offered alongside tapas dishes by Events Executive Chef, Owen Andrews.

Guests can expect a relaxed wine lounge atmosphere with chill-out music and special Flamenco guitar performances by Adelaide-based Spanish artist, Aloysius Leeson.

To mark 70 Years of the Barossa Vintage Festival, also on offer on the night will be an opportunity to indulge in a tasting of 1947 Seppeltsfield Para Vintage Tawny, conceived the same year as the inaugural event.

Image: Owen Andrews and Jennifer Schmidt prepare for unearthed@seppeltsfield – Vinegar Haus, as part of the 2017 Barossa Vintage Festival.

Sky is no limit for high-altitude wine blend

AN Australian winery has taken tailoring products to suit its target market to new heights.

St Hallett Wines in South Australia’s Barossa Valley has released a Shiraz blend specifically designed to be sipped in the high-altitude cabins of passenger aircrafts.

Plans are also in place to not only serve The Duo at altitude but to also blend it mid-flight for maximum effect.

The Duo, named after the neighbouring regions of Barossa Valley and Eden Valley where the shiraz grapes were sourced from, will be served exclusively on board Virgin Australiaflights in Business Class and can be sampled in Virgin Australia lounges.

St Hallett winemaker Shelley Cox said the cooler climate Eden Valley fruit was chosen for its floral and spicy aroma while the Barossa Valley grapes were more rounded and plush.

She said the creation of a specific blend was important because the cabin pressure, noise and dry air while flying dulled the senses.

“Blending the two of those together means you’ve got a full-flavoured palate but not the strong tannins so it’s nice and smooth, easy to drink and not out of balance.

“Whereas with the normal domestic wine the tannin might seem a little bit aggressive in those conditions.”

“It’s also got a nose that’s inviting and will be able to be sensed at that higher altitude.”

Cox said it was the first time she had heard of a winery customising a blend specifically to be consumed in an aircraft.

She said it was hoped The Duo would become an ongoing product as the demand for more customised products grew.

“We played around with a lot of different options to ensure the acid and texture balance was right. It was a great experience and we are confident the wine will deliver in both taste and aroma on the plane at altitude.”

“The on-board services team came over and did the blending with me and I think the plan is to do a blending session up in the air on a flight to Perth so we can get that in flight experience as well.”

South Australia is consistently responsible for about 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production and about 75 per cent of its premium wine.

The Barossa Valley produces world-renowned brands such as Penfolds Grange, Jacob’s Creek and Wolf Blass.

Virgin Australia’s General Manager In-flight Experience, Tash Tobias said the team was always searching for ways to deliver outstanding on board experiences.

“We are thrilled to bring the best of the Barossa to our guests travelling in Business Class and will continue to work with leading industry players to improve the in-flight experience,” Tobias said.

St Hallett_Bottle

This article first appeared in The Lead.

Travel bursaries available to wine industry

Wine Australia is inviting the Australian grape and wine community to apply for a travel and visiting scholar bursary by Friday 7 April 2017.

Applications are accepted for travel that commences between 1 July and 31 December 2017 and bursaries can fund travel, study tours or conferences to develop your professional knowledge and network with the international research community.

Opportunities are also available to bring international experts to Australia to participate in workshops, meetings, conferences, symposia or research projects through Wine Australia’s visiting scholar bursaries.

Wine Australia’s General Manager of Research, Development and Extension Dr Liz Waters says the bursaries provide a professional development opportunity and also encourage recipients to share the knowledge they gain with others in the grape and wine community.

“Participating in professional education programs and learning from others in the international research community is an important way to supplement existing research and develop the knowledge and skills of our sector,” she said.

“We see it as an equally important part of the experience that information gleaned by successful applicants is shared with the rest of our grape and wine community so that everyone can benefit from the latest wine sector R&D from across the world.

“Successful applicants for bursaries will be those who can highlight the opportunity for their own professional development, anticipated benefits for the sector and how the information will be widely disseminated.”

Each year, Wine Australia invests in travel bursaries and in visiting scholar bursaries with applications open every six months.

The application process gives preference to those who are currently making, or who are potentially able to make, a significant contribution to research and the travel must relate to their research interest and expertise.

Applicants are advised to consult the Australian Grape and Wine Authority Strategic Plan 2015–2020 and the guidelines for both the travel and scholar bursaries when developing their applications.

Australian wine industry ‘greats’ honoured in Adelaide

The outstanding achievements of three ‘greats’ of the Australian wine industry have been honoured at a special awards presentation held by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) in Adelaide last night.

James Halliday AM, Chris Hancock MW and Denis Horgan AM were named Life Members of the Australian Wine Industry.

Each of the recipients is a household name and their efforts in the nation’s vineyards, wineries, boardrooms and gracing the pages of the most discerning wine publications, have played a key role in creating a vibrant modern industry and brought Australian wines to the attention of consumers around the world.

“This coveted Life Member Award recognises outstanding leadership and contribution to the nation’s wine industry over and above an individual’s career achievements,” said WFA President Sandy Clark.

“Chris, Denis and James are worthy winners and take their place among other greats including Wolf Blass, d’Arry Osborn, Philip Laffer, John May, Terry Lee, Peter Barnes, Peter Wall and Bill Chambers. The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia is proud to administer this award”, he said.

Treasury Wine more than doubles first half profit

Treasury Wine Estates, maker of well-known brands like Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Wynns, has more than doubled its first half profit.

Announcing its interim 2017 financial result yesterday, the company said reported Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) for the period was $136.2m and Earnings Per Share (EPS) was 18.5 cents per share.

The good result reflects treasury’s purchase of Diageo assets in the US last year.

“I am delighted to report a strong interim 2017 financial result highlighted by further margin accretion, excellent cash conversion and outstanding EPS growth, despite the higher share base. All regions delivered double digit EBITS growth and importantly, growth was delivered sustainably,” commented TWE’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Clarke.

The company’s EBITS margin accretion was up 4.3ppts to 17.5% in 1H17 and up 2.5ppts relative to TWE’s F163 EBITS margin of 15.0%, which included 6 months of the Diageo Wine contribution.

The outlook for Treasury remains positive, with the company continuing to deliver against its strategy of transitioning from an agricultural to a brand-led, high performance organisation.

“Today’s result announcement demonstrates that we are executing on all the initiatives we have communicated to the market and importantly, that TWE is continuing to deliver sustainable value to its shareholders,” said Clarke.

Wine Australia renews partnership with Efic

Wine Australia has renewed its partnership agreement with Efic, Australia’s export credit agency.

The partnership aims to help Australian wine producers better understand how they can access the finance they need to maximise their export opportunities.

Efic provides a range of export finance solutions to Australian small and medium enterprise (SME) exporters and those in an export supply chain.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said, “With Australian wine exports and export opportunities on the rise in regions such as Northeast Asia, particularly China, it’s important that wine exporters are aware of all of their financing options.”

Under the renewed agreement, Wine Australia will continue to work with Efic to help Australian wine exporters learn how Efic’s range of loans and guarantees can help them to take advantage of new export opportunities.

“Australian wine exports play an important role in Australia’s trade. We’re pleased to continue to work with Wine Australia to ensure SME wine exporters get access to the finance they need when their bank is unable to help,” said Efic Managing Director and CEO Andrew Hunter.

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