Daily Wine News
A snapshot of wine business, research and marketing content gleaned from local and international wine media sources. Emailed Monday to Friday excluding public holidays. Click here to subscribe, for advertising inquiries, click to download our media kit.

Announcements and Suppliers

16/01/2017: Trademark Protection & Disputes?
There is little or no wine brand value without trademark protection and it’s unwise to invest in your brand without it. Protection gives you the secure right to sell your wine without interference from third parties; enables you to sell your brand rights; and stops another winery from selling wine under your name. With infringement enforcement you should consider the legal issues, prospects of success and likely legal costs. So advice from 30-year specialist wine sector lawyer Mark Hamilton will save time and cost by cutting to the real issues quickly and cost efficiently. Call Mark on 0412 842 359 mhamilton@gropehamiltonlawyers.com.au

16/01/2017: Give a Boost to Your Brand in US market. Become an Exhibitor at 2017 USA Trade Tasting and Grow Your Brand.
If you are looking to grow your distribution in US market, USATT is the perfect platform to help you connect with state distributors, importers and retailers of USA. Book your exhibitor spot by January 20 and get 2 free conference tickets included. (Only Few Spots Left).

16/01/2017: From Ashton Adelaide Hills Grapes—Italian Varieties
GI Piccadilly Valley: Barbera approx 3 tonnes; Dolcetto approx 3 tonnes; Cortese approx 3 tonnes; Pinot grigio approx 3 tonnes (sold). All hand picked in half tonne bins; Price $3,000 .00 per tonne ex vine yard. Also Adelaide Plains shiraz available--$1200.00 per tonne (Approx 30 tonnes) Adelaide Plains merlot available--$1000.00 per tonne (Approx 30 tonnes) All prices Ex Vineyard; Fruit picked into buyers bins. Call Joe 0418844663

4/01/2017: USA Trade Tasting sets global stage to showcase innovative and unique products in New York
USA Trade Tasting adds a new area at the show called ‘Unique and Innovative Products Pavilion’ (UIPP). The Unique and Innovative Products Pavilion will showcase unique and innovative products from all over the world to US Buyers.

Australian Wine Industry News

20/01/2017: Wine grape harvest: Harvest delayed as fruit hangs on
THE wine grape harvest is two to four weeks behind last year across most of Australia. Viticulturists blame the cold, wet spring and summer for the delay. Last year’s harvest was early across most of Victoria after a hot, dry season. Warramunda Estate’s Robert Magdziarz said the vintage would start in early March at the Coldstream, Yarra Valley, winery after a cold and wet start to the growing year. “We would normally start picking mid-February but I believe this year will be three weeks behind,” Mr Magd­ziarz said. “The weather has been cool prior to Christmas with a lot of rain."

20/01/2017: Riverland grants available – DON’T self-assess
Riverland hailstorm recovery assistance grants, of up to $10,000, are available to help affected primary producers with the clean-up and recovery from the hail storms of November 11. The assistance will be jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State governments under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). The grants will be made to primary producers whose properties were damaged by the storm event in the Berri-Barmera, Loxton-Waikerie and Renmark-Paringa Council districts. Consideration is being given to also including properties damaged in the Mid-Murray Council District around Cadell.

20/01/2017: 2017 price reports from Australian Vignerons and Riverland Wine
While there is positive news in regard to exports, it is extremely disappointing to hear news from warm inland regions that recent price discussions indicate a continuation of depressed pricing. There is a bright future for the Australian wine industry, but only if those producing the fruit destined for the wine that will stock the shelves of global wine stores are able to make a solid living, re-invest in their businesses and continue to improve. Things are more positive in cool temperate regions, with recent positive news stories relating the success of businesses in McLaren Vale and Tasmania reaping the rewards of a high value Chinese market.

20/01/2017: Woodlands Wines Wins International Judges Trophy
Established in 1973 by David and Heather Watson, Woodland Wines was one of the first five wineries to be established in Margaret River. The vineyard has recently been awarded the prestigious International Judges Trophy at Langton’s Margaret River Wine Show for their 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Matthew’. Proving to be a top Margaret River winery, Woodlands Wines is finding acclaim as an industry leader. The Woodlands vineyard is dry grown and maintained by hand using traditional methods. Woodlands Wines has grown considerably since its inception, with the original block planted in 1973 and the remainder planted in 1998.

20/01/2017: Flood brings Riverland wine conservation site to life
Banrock Station is expecting a surge of visitors to its cellar door and wetland in the coming weeks following a flood that has sparked a flurry of wildlife activity. The conservation site is situated on the River Murray floodplain immediately downstream of Kingston on Murray in South Australia’s Riverland wine region. The water levels at the wetland reached their highest point since 2011 on December 20, flooding boardwalks and providing regeneration for the conservation site’s diverse flora and fauna. The flood has now receded, allowing staff at the Accolade Wines funded site to re-open the network of boardwalks.

19/01/2017: Shiraz research on how regions influence character of wine
Wine Australia is hoping a better understanding of shiraz terroirs will help the nation's wine regions better compete in the global market. The word 'terroir' refers to environmental factors that influence the make-up of wine grapes, including climate, soil and topography. Wine Australia is investing $5.3 million into research and development projects in a bid to shed light on the relationship between where vines are grown and the eventual style and taste of Australian shiraz. While terroir is a common word used in the wine industry, it seems many want a greater understanding of how it can impact wine.

19/01/2017: Dogrock Wines at Crowlands keeps things simple
Living off-the-grid is one thing, producing award-­winning wine and running a cellar door without a permanent source of electricity is ­another matter entirely. Allen and Andrea Hart, of Dogrock Wines, at Crowlands in Victoria’s Pyrenees region, are doing just that though, producing wine that has kept them consistently in the medals at the handful of wine shows they enter each year. Problems that could have been game changers were averted in the design stages of building their home and winery, and when they need to, they work around their power limits according to the ­weather, as they would do with jobs in the vineyard.

19/01/2017: Xi Jinping preaching trade, but China's opening up has slowed
To be sure, at least with respect to trade, China has continued to meaningfully open its economy on a bilateral basis. China now has free trade agreements with 10 countries, including Australia, as well as one with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which came into force at the end of 2015, provides numerous examples of loosened trade. Since the beginning of this year, Australian wine has entered China with a tariff of just 5.6%. Wine exporters from other countries are hit with 14%. In just two more years Australian wine will enter China duty-free. It’s perhaps no surprise then that Australian wine exports to China leapt by 55% last year.

19/01/2017: Limerick man on a quest to bring Buckfast to Australia
Irish people living in Australia now have access to many of the comforts of home (potato waffles and curry cheese chips, for example) but one thing has been consistently out of reach: Buckfast. Yes, the beloved tonic wine is not sold in Australia, except in a few random shops and off licenses – a Facebook group for people seeking out Buckfast down under has been on the go since 2008, with members keeping it updated with information on stockists. Seeing the great desire for Bucky in the country Limerick man JP Tucker, who has been living in Sydney for six years now, decided to do something about it once and for all.

19/01/2017: State of the Climate 2016
The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO play an important role in monitoring, analysing and communicating observed changes in Australia's climate. This fourth, biennial State of the Climate report draws on the latest monitoring, science and projection information to describe variability and changes in Australia's climate, and how it is likely to change in the future. Observations and climate modelling paint a consistent picture of ongoing, long-term climate change interacting with underlying natural variability. These changes affect many Australians, particularly changes associated with increases in the frequency or intensity of heat events, fire weather and drought. Australia will need to plan for and adapt to some level of climate change.

18/01/2017: New data reveals Australia’s beverage trends
Beverage purchase data from pubs and bars across major Australian cities has revealed beer is Australia’s favourite beverage and is mainly consumed at lunchtime and in the afternoons. Spirits are our second favourite – and is the number one category among women, surpassing wine purchases – mostly consumed late at night. The data, from mobile-payment and deals app Clipp, compares beverage purchases across four categories: beer, wine, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks.

18/01/2017: Liquor is quicker. Pot is not
“Alcohol and marijuana, if used in moderation, plus loud, usually low-class music, make stress and boredom infinitely more bearable,” Kurt Vonnegut. So quotes the top of the page of the California-based Wine Industry Network’s (WIN) announcement that it will host an intensive one-day Wine and Weed Symposium in August at Santa Rosa in Sonoma. The meeting is “dedicated to the legalisation of cannabis and the impact on the wine industry”. California’s a touch ahead of South Australia in the cannabis business, but we’re wending, as they say, our way along.

18/01/2017: Putting the focus back on Australian Sauvignon Blanc
For almost eight years, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc has dominated the Australian white wine market, leaving local winemakers searching for a way to dethrone the top-selling Kiwi brands. For Burch Family Wines, this means adjusting the production techniques used on their Margaret River and Great Southern vineyards. Natalie Burch, Operations Manager and Director for Howard Park Wines, says that the key to creating a worthy opponent to our rival across the Tasman isn’t in imitation, but distinction.

18/01/2017: Enduring innovative spirit
Notable by still being in the hands of its founding family, the 163-year-old Drayton’s wine operation has a history of novel projects – the latest being its blue wine. The Draytons were Hunter trail blazers in producing the bulk tank-fermented Hunter Pearl bubbly and they still make the high-octane Dr Jurd’s Jungle Juice fortified. In aid of the Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance, their Pokolbin winery has produced red and white wines labelled “Have You Had Your Little Prick?”

18/01/2017: Fortifieds surge in popularity as local estate awarded
Margaret River winery Gralyn Estate has long been a stalwart of the South West wine industry since creating the area’s first vintage port in 1978. Owners Merilyn and Graham Hutton planted a small vineyard in 1975 to diversify their Wilyabrup beef farm, with wine sales limited to cellar door and online sales. Today, son Bradley is vineyard manager and winemaker and has inherited his parents’ love of fortified wines, which has been rewarded with the latest win at the Winestate Wine of the Year Awards in Adelaide. Mr and Mrs Hutton attended the gala awards ceremony, where their Museum Muscat won the Fortified Wine of the Year Trophy.

17/01/2017: $5.3 million Wine Australia research for Shiraz terroir
Australia’s unique terroirs and how they influence wine style and quality is the centrepiece of a six-year, $5.3 million investment in new research and development (R&D) projects announced today by Wine Australia. Dr Brian Croser AO, Deputy Chair of Wine Australia, said, ‘Australia makes wines of exceptional quality and finesse that reflect their provenance and terroir, but they don’t currently receive the international recognition they merit. ‘It is these wines that will most quickly elevate the image and reputation of all wines we produce. We are focused on building international recognition for our wines to increase demand and the price paid for all Australian wines.

17/01/2017: Puffing out grape smoke taint
Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) and Wine Tasmania have banded together to address the problem of smoke-taint in vineyards during the bushfire season. Wine Tasmania chief executive Sheralee Davies outlined the issue. “Smoke can enter the leaves of the vines in the vineyards and then adhere to the sugars that grow in the berries,” Ms Davies said. “It can create unpalatable wines. These places also happen to be where some of our most highly-flammable fuels are,” Ms Whight said. TFS Fuel Reduction Unit manager Sandra Whight said grape-growing regions were particularly prone to bushfires.

17/01/2017: Researchers map out world's winegrape varieties
University of Adelaide researchers have compiled statistics from 44 countries to develop the first database of the world's winegrape varieties and regions. The new database, funded by the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC), provides an in-depth analysis of the world's wine varieties and winegrape growing nations that account for 99% of global wine production. University of Adelaide School of Economics Professor Kym Anderson says a database of this nature has been highly sought by the wine industry.

17/01/2017: Wine writer Max Allen joins the AFR
Australians are becoming more adventurous in their drinking tastes, a trend that mirrors our explosion of the nation's food culture, says wine expert Max Allen. "Australian gastronomic culture has long moved beyond a daily diet of meat-and-two-veg," Allen says. "You used to be a wine person or a beer person, or you used to be a gin or a whisky drinker. But there's a current generation of people exploring alcohol in all it forms, and they are much more likely not to tie themselves down to one brand or one kind of drink. "We're becoming so much more adventurous and curious, and that's what I'm trying to capture in my columns."

17/01/2017: Alcohol is Australia’s third biggest online purchase
A new report released today by KPMG has revealed the online spending habits of nearly 20,000 consumers from 50 countries, including Australia. The respondents were between the ages of 15 and 70, each having purchased at least one consumer product online in the past 12 months. The research investigated a number of factors related to online shopping, including consumer purchasing behaviour, the shopping decision process, attitudes and preferences, payments and delivery and customer loyalty and feedback.

16/01/2017: Grenache, the toughest grape in the world
It survives in inhospitable terrain and its wines are too often undervalued. Grape vines of all kinds can cope with the most extraordinarily difficult and extreme environments. But few varieties of this tenacious plant are as tough as grenache, aka garnacha in Spain. It can survive, even thrive, in some of the dustiest corners of the wine world, roots plunged many feet deep into inhospitable terrain seeking out moisture. The wonder of grenache is that the meagre crops of fruit produced by vines which can be anything up to 100 years old create some of the most vivacious wines around.

16/01/2017: Aussies pay the price for bad habits
Australia has been ranked the third most expensive country in the world to buy drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, according to the Bloomberg Vice Index. The same “basket” of goods — tobacco, alcohol, amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine and opioids — will cost you just $US41.40 in Laos and a staggering $US1,441.50 in Japan. The index compares the cost of the basket of goods as a share of average weekly income, with the US used as a benchmark. In the US, the goods cost almost $US400, or about one third of the average weekly income.

16/01/2017: Penfolds win an encouraging sign for Aus businesses in China
A court victory that will allow Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) to use its preferred transliteration for Penfolds in China is being seen as a landmark victory. The decision in the Beijing High People's Court found an intellectual property (IP) squatter, who had registered the "Ben Fu" trademark in 2009, failed to make genuine use of it. The court ruled the trademark be cancelled, allowing TWE to use the branding freely for its wines in China. "This decision … demonstrates China's commitment to a strong IP system and fair judiciary," David Bennett, the new IP counsellor at Beijing's Australian Embassy, said.

16/01/2017: Australia takes on South Africa in new Tri Nations Wine Challenge
On a visit to South Africa three years ago Roger Jones came up with an idea to highlight the wines from his three favourite wine countries, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Given his Michelin Star status he also decided to throw some culinary finesse into the concept. And that’s how the Tri Nations Wine Challenges was born. On Friday night the latest round was hosted at The Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town, with South Africa wining 4:2. South Africa are currently at the top of the table, the next event is being held at Craggy Range in Hawkes Bay on Tuesday 7th February and will involve South Africa and New Zealand.

16/01/2017: Bleasdale winery smashes multiple wine shows
Asking a clutch of wine industry folk to discuss the worth of wine show bling and the veracity of various judging processes is the wine biz’s equivalent of a UFC cage-fighting championship. Everyone has a strong opinion. There are so many shows, trophies and medals doing the rounds that they have decreasing impact on communicators, and arguably consumers. But when one humble Langhorne Creekwine keeps popping up in the past year at multiple trophy ceremonies across the country you have to take notice.

13/01/2017: Why grenache might be a better Aussie than shiraz
Let's kick off the new year with a little heresy, shall we? I would like to suggest that Australia's most famous red wine grape, shiraz, might not in fact be the best variety for many of our most famous warmer-climate wine regions such as the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. I would like to suggest that if you want a grape variety that most faithfully expresses terroir – that captures the unique combination of country, climate and culture in a glass – then in many cases, in many places, grenache might be a better option.

13/01/2017: Treasury Wine wins China trademark dispute
Treasury Wine Estates has won a legal dispute in Beijing over its right to use the "Ben Fu" trademark in China, a transliteration for its flagship Penfolds brand, the company said on Thursday. The judgment, handed down by Beijing High People's Court, found that a Chinese individual who had registered the Ben Fu trademark in 2009 had "failed to demonstrate any genuine use of the trademark for wine or related business activities," Treasury Wines said in a statement. "This trademark will subsequently be cancelled, allowing for TWE to claim its right to ownership of the Ben Fu trademark registration and to freely use this trademark across China."

13/01/2017: Agribusiness: Why We’re leading the way in SA
You’ve probably heard the saying that Australia was built by “riding on the sheep’s back”. This may have been true up to the 1950s, but roll forward to today and we in South Australia are still an agribusiness-driven economy, you just have to look at the numbers. South Australian wine makes up 70 per cent of Australia’s premium wine exports. Exports of differentiated and processed food and wine is to exceed $3.5b this year. This year, Adelaide joined the Great Wine Capitals Global Network adding to the state’s global reputation for premium food and wine tourism.

13/01/2017: Wine, Women and Subtle Sexism
The world of wine is still a long way from being an equal-opportunities employer. "The current estimation of women in the Australian wine industry is 8-10 percent," says Fiona Donald, senior winemaker at Seppeltsfield Wines. "How can this be when, at graduation, the gender ratio is 50:50?" Such accusations of sexism are, of course, levied at many industries, particularly in areas like engineering, aviation and the armed forces. Yet, the general perception is that wine is a "nice" or softer industry, full of passionate professionals who love their craft.

13/01/2017: Buckingham Schenk adds Kreglinger Wine Estates
Wine importer Buckingham Schenk is expanding its Antipodean portfolio by adding Kreglinger Wine Estates and its brands Pipers Brook and Norfolk Rise. Tasmanian label Pipers Brook garnered a reputation in the UK in the early nineties when its wines were distributed through a number of independents. Craig Durham, managing director at Buckingham Schenk, said: “We are really delighted to be working with Kreglinger Wine Estates who are highly respected by many in the trade. Australia has a reputation for some amazing wines and we hope these wineries from Tasmania and Mount Benson can offer a real point of difference for our customers.”

12/01/2017: Cellar door experience helps boost sales for small wineries
Small winemaking businesses generated $1 billion in wine sales revenue in 2015-16, an average increase of 12%, Wine Australia figures show. While retailers and wholesalers generated 47% of income, cellar doors have become increasingly important sales channels, accounting for 27% of revenue. With food and wine tourism on the rise, many small wineries are now also attracting consumers to their region via on-site restaurants, cafes, tours and boutique accommodation, in addition to the traditional cellar door. Garry Sweeney, owner of Mount Lofty Ranges Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills (pictured), said his business has benefited from a strong cellar door focus.

12/01/2017: Sustainable practices make good wine at Mudgee
A rare breed of sheep has been integral to the branding and sustainability of Short Sheep Micro-Winery. Owners and winemakers Sue Ridler and Tony Shadbolt purchased a block of land in 2001 and established the 4ha vineyard the following year, producing their first fruit in 2004. Initially they continued to live and work in Sydney and grew grapes and sold them to other winemakers, but in 2013 — when there was no value in selling the grapes — they made the decision to move and make their own wine rather than the other option of pulling out the vines.

12/01/2017: Australia’s Chateau Tanunda Revamps U.S. Operations
The Australian winery Chateau Tanunda has announced a ground-up restructuring of its U.S. operations. This includes setting up a joint-partnership import company and hiring a U.S.-based representative to manage marketing and distribution. “This enables us to respond quickly to an ever-changing marketplace and offer significant cost benefits to our distributors,” says winery owner John Geber. “Whilst Shiraz is the Barossa’s traditional calling card, at Château Tanunda we also believe in the world-class potential of Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon.”

12/01/2017: Austrade gets cautious after Ponzi Scandal in India
Austrade had launched in February 2016 last year what the federal government said would be a detailed ­investigation into the agency’s promoting of the now collapsed A$10 billion Pearls Group scam, ­despite Indian authorities having been investigating it for more than a decade. Funded by the government, Austrade says it conducted no due diligence on any of the Australian companies it promoted overseas, or on the foreign companies it pushed to local businesses.

12/01/2017: McWilliams’s launches cny personalized wine labels
In the run up to the Year of the Rooster, McWilliam’s Wines has teamed up with Park N Shop to design personalized wine labels with any purchase of two McWilliam’s wines. In the lead up to Chinese New Year which this year officially starts on 28 January, wine companies often cash in on the gift giving traditions with the wildly popular Penfolds recently releasing a limited edition ‘Rooster’ bottle, in honour of its former chief winemaker, Max Schubert and Massimo Ferragamo launching his top end wine, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2010 Zodiac Rooster from Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany.

11/01/2017: First wine grapes picked in Swan Valley
Western Australia's oldest wine producing region is experiencing a later start to harvest this year, but winemakers are anticipating an exceptional vintage. Duncan Harris, from Harris Organic Wines in the Swan Valley, has picked his first grapes of the season, harvesting an early variety called Madeleine, also known as Sweetwater. Mr Harris said the grapes will be turned into a Flor Fino sherry, "which these days is called Apera". His next pick will be for Chardonnay, but like the rest of the region, Mr Harris will have to wait, as the fruit continues to slowly ripen.

11/01/2017: Small winemakers see strong growth
Small winemaking businesses generated $1 billion in wine sales revenue in 2015–16, an average increase of 12 per cent, according to the Small Winemaker Production and Sales Survey 2016 results released today by Wine Australia. While retailers and wholesalers generated 47 per cent of income, cellar doors have become increasingly important sales channels, accounting for 27 per cent of revenue. With food and wine tourism on the rise, many small wineries are now also attracting consumers to their region via on-site restaurants, cafes, tours and boutique accommodation, in addition to the traditional cellar door.

11/01/2017: Shopping at Algorithm Cellars
There's no escaping algorithms, whether you're a Centrelink client, a social media user or a target of the fast-moving consumer goods sector. Some ghoulish god somewhere must know which algorithm wrote the algorithm for Centrelink. Or indeed just how many past generations of algorithms we’d have to traverse before we hit a human. Like a living being, made out of meat. The sort of thinking creature that would be driven to drink by the very notion of the algotime which Centrelink’s algorithms have conjured and imposed.

11/01/2017: Better coverage key in vine sprayer
Tasmanian vineyard, Goaty Hill has invested in new technology adding a Silvan Turbo SCRAM vineyard sprayer to its fleet. Turbo SCRAM technology delivers a range of benefits including better leaf coverage and a reduction in chemical use, according to Silvan. The company has patented the Silvan Centrifugal Remote Air Model (SCRAM) technology which was developed in conjunction with some of Australia’s major vineyards. Silvan said SCRAM provided unparalleled vine coverage with water and chemical savings and delivered high velocity air for optimum penetration and even spray coverage into the canopy.

11/01/2017: Celebrating the best in local wine with music
This year, Music SA joined forces with the Hot 100 Wines as the not-for-profit company paired local wine with music from South Australia’s wine regions through curated playlists that were played during the tastings. To do this, the team from Music SA chose music that reflected the cultural and aesthetic attributes for each region, so the Adelaide Hills’ playlist evoked folky forests and winter-like emotions while the music from the Fleurieu Peninsula featured beachy and upbeat music. The seven playlists are available to listen to on Spotify.

10/01/2017: Australian Vignerons will wind up if support fails to increase
The national advocacy body Australian Vignerons, is in danger of winding up if support fails to increase in coming months. The organisation has written to stakeholders making it clear that unless support is forthcoming the board will have no alternative but to start the wind-up process. Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) was formed more than a decade ago to provide a national voice for Australian grape growers. It has recently undergone a structural reform and change to trading name to ensure its relevance to industry stakeholders. The changes to membership, board and structure proposed in a new constitution received unanimous support when offered to members at the special general meeting in September 2016. However, this support has not been reflected in increased membership outside of South Australia and Western Australia.

10/01/2017: Future Leaders 2017 applications now open
Applications for Future Leaders 2017 are now open to those who are ready to step up and be next in leading Australia’s grape and wine community to future prosperity. Over the past decade, Future Leaders, funded by Australian Vignerons, Wine Australia and Winemakers’ Federation of Australia, has helped the Australian wine community prepare for the challenges of tomorrow by building today the capabilities of the next generation of leaders. The 91 Future Leaders alumni include winemakers, grapegrowers and viticulturists, business managers and marketers, suppliers and researchers, who have already demonstrated the strong leadership and vision required to position Australia as a fine wine leader on the global stage.

10/01/2017: Winemakers “must be active” to take advantage of FTAs
With Free Trade Agreements (FTA) seeing tariffs on imported wines being cut in many key Asian markets, the Winemakers Federation of Australia has reminded its members that they need to be active in taking advantage. The Federal Government’s Free Trade agenda has seen competitive advantages given to Australian winemakers in Japan, South Korea and China, by reducing and in some cases eliminating existing import tariffs. Last week TheShout reported that the tariff paid on Australian wine imports into China fell to 5.6 per cent, compared to the 14 per cent most other wine imports continue to pay.

10/01/2017: 2016 a good year for alcohol sales
It was a good year for grog sales. Revenue at alcohol giants Treasury Wine Estates and Carlton & United Breweries grew by 19.1 per cent and 15.7 per cent last year. The growth catapulted the two into Australia's top 10 food and drink companies for 2016, as compiled by researchers IBISWorld and trade publication Food & Drink Business. Treasury Wine Estates (whose brands include Penfolds) came in at No. 9, and CUB at No. 10. They were joined in the top 10 by Japanese alcohol giant Kirin, which makes beer brands Hahn, Boag's and XXXX, as well as dairy brands such as Pura.

10/01/2017: Beer vs wine: crowds pack breweries and wineries in WA
Visitor numbers are booming in WA’s South West as boutique breweries go head to head with the region’s wineries in a battle of the booze. Some of the biggest crowds packed the region’s breweries and wineries this week, where a tussle of the tipples was being fought. Margaret River Wine Association president Cath Oates said wineries had been doing a roaring trade amid “healthy competition” with brewers. “There is always a bit of friendly rivalry but I think the more diversity we have in the region, the better,” she said. Despite Margaret River’s wine dominance, a swag of new breweries have sprung up in the region, proving popular this week as punters quenched their thirst with a cold craft beer.

9/01/2017: Virtual vineyard gate aims to keep grape pests out
Software initially developed to safeguard the Canadian poultry industry is being trialled by Australian wineries to help keep pests and diseases out of premium vineyards. The vineyard cyber monitoring system known as Project Boundary Rider has been designed by Canadian company Be Seen Be Safe to keep South Australia’s $1.78 billion wine industry free of devastating pests and diseases such as phylloxera and Pierce’s disease. Vinehealth Australia, based in South Australia’s capital of Adelaide, is overseeing the project and has begun a six-month trial at 30 vineyards in the renowned Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale wine regions. It will include the busy vintage period, which runs from February to April, when vineyards and wineries are susceptible to pests and disease partly due to high traffic volumes in and out of properties.

9/01/2017: Australian Biodynamic Wines Paxton Comes to Guangzhou
Paxton, an Australian biodynamic wine company, has officially launched in Guangzhou. Established in 1979, Paxton is a family owned McLaren Vale wine company. Founder and owner, David Paxton is one of Australia’s most highly respected viticulturists – a reputation built on managing and growing wine grapes of exceptional quality for over 37 years. In 2004, David Paxton, under the inspiration of Rufolf Steiner’s philosophies, made the decision to convert the estate to organic and biodynamic farming principles because he felt chemicals were slowly destroying his vineyards health. David Paxton then set out on a healthy vines make better wines mission to ensure the best quality beverage.

9/01/2017: What makes a great wine festival?
It was intended as a celebration of biodynamic wines; those otherworldly in scope, made according to lunar rhythms and something aligned with what practitioners like to call “the cosmos”. The man and his wife had booked into all four sessions on the day of the Return To Terroir biodynamic wine tasting, a regular marquee event of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. By the third session, it was clear he was not going to see a fourth. Too much wine had been consumed and he was asked to leave. “The man became upset,” recalls Natalie O’Brien, CEO of the festival. “He said it wasn’t made clear to him when he booked that he should be spitting the wine out.”

9/01/2017: Branching out secures future in wine industry
The Smibert family at Coonawarra can see a positive future in the wine industry and are making their own luck. After buying a vineyard in the famous South East wine region a decade ago, the family plugged away as grape growers and sold their product to wine companies. Disenchanted with grape prices and quality judgments made by buyers, Brian said the family decided to embark on a new path four years ago. Brian and Jennifer’s son Angus, who holds an international business degree, came up with the idea to establish their own label – Whistle Post.

9/01/2017: Australia Day to put sparkling red trend to the test
After Bibendum predicted that red would be the next chapter in the ‘alternative sparkling’ story in December through analysis of its Mode data analysis tool, Wine Australia is set to present a selection of Aussie sparkling Shiraz from producers such as Dowie Doole, Gatt Wines, Peter Lehmann, Taltarni and Turkey Flat. The marketing body will invite attendees to share their thoughts on the wines and trend predictions via Twitter using the hashtag #ADTwine. As many as 1,100 wines will be available to taste at the Australia Day Tasting at Victoria House in London on 24 January, giving trade members the chance to assess not just the likelihood of a sparkling red trend, but also to explore other hot topics such as alternative grape varieties and the growing demand for premium wines.

6/01/2017: Australian wine benefits from further China tariff reduction
Australian wine exporters expect to receive a profit boost from this week, with a further reduction of tariffs to China now in effect. China is now Australia's biggest export market for wine — worth almost half a billion dollars. Gemtree vineyards in McLaren Vale, near Adelaide, is confident its 2016 shiraz is a good match for the Chinese market. The winery has a Chinese joint venture, and was one of the first to crack the market seven years ago. "The initial growth was extraordinary, our business essentially trebled in the space of two years," managing director Mike Brown said. Growth has since stabilised, but from this week exporting to China may be more profitable, with tariffs down to 5.6 per cent.

6/01/2017: Hopes End Wine launches a brand fit for the millennial
How does the millennial cope with the dashed hopes they've faced since the Great Recession? Hopes End is a new wine launching this week that taps into a psyche intrigued by the dark and mysterious, that craves escape from the mundane and wants to live for today. Hopes End is an Australian red blend wine that exemplifies the skill of one of Australia's oldest winemaking families, the Angoves, who were among the free settlers to South Australia in the 19th century. With hopes of finding a prosperous life, instead they arrived in dismal Port Misery, South Australia. Dr. William T. Angove, a young doctor, found his livelihood mixing elixirs, and soon, wine—the perfect antidote to adversity.

6/01/2017: Snapchat for your wine business
There are plenty of options for wine brands when it comes to interaction on social media – including Snapchat. In this article, Dr Rebecca Dolan from The University of Auckland Business School Department of Marketing, works through the reasons Snapchat deserves attention. Snapchat offers a glimpse into the future of mobile marketing. On the most basic level, users (such as brands and consumers) can send image or video ‘Snaps’ directly to a recipients inbox. Snapchat has over 100 million active daily users who collectively send around 400 million Snaps per day, making Snapchat one of the fastest-growing social network platforms.

6/01/2017: Wet, wild year one for history books
The rainfall in September was unprecedented in South Australia, with more than 70 weather stations recording all-time high rainfall totals for the month. Yet winemakers were unperturbed by the heavy downpours, despite some Barossa Valley vineyards spending time underwater during the spring deluge. Elderton Wines' co-managing director Allister Ashmead said these soakings are expected occasionally and even welcomed as they refresh the vines and rejuvenate the water table.

6/01/2017: Treasury Wine Estate CEO may have trick up his sleeve
Treasury Wine Estates chief executive Mike Clarke heads towards his third anniversary at the helm of the company as one of the golden boys of the Australian sharemarket. He has mused in the past about whether Treasury might be an even better business without its lower-end commercial wines, leaving Treasury with a wine business focused at the middle to top end of the market, which is where Clarke sees the best growth around the world. Simon Evans reports for the Australian Financial Review.

5/01/2017: Adelaide Hills ‘makes a Pollock painting look simple’
The diversity of different terroirs in the Australian region of the Adelaide Hills “makes a Jackson Pollock painting look simple”, according to one local producer. Adelaide Hills’ vineyards are like a patchwork quilt. Speaking to the drinks business during a recent trip to Australia, Tom Keelan, of The Pawn Wine Company, said, “If you look at a soil map of the Adelaide Hills it makes a Jackson Pollock painting look simple. We’re fine tuning our soil mapping at the moment and are starting to find our feet. Pinot used to be made like Shiraz in the Adelaide Hills – it was picked very late. There’s a new regime now and it has got stronger as a category." “Winemakers are going back to using traditional techniques, are picking a lot earlier and are using whole bunch fermentation. “There are massive changes going on in the style of Pinot being made from here, which is helping to express the terroir more. We’re not making Coca-Cola – vintage variation is part of expressing our wines.”

5/01/2017: Resolve to rediscover Aus winemakers
Once the leader of the New World wine revolution, Down Under has fallen off the radar of many aficionados as the juice of once-upon-a-time up-starts like Chile, California and, yes, even Canada has become cooler to drink. Arguably the Aussies have been their own worst enemy, with many winemakers chasing the same flavour profile and the industry as a whole struggling to tell their story to consumers whose basic knowledge of the country is still gleaned from Crocodile Dundee. While I could go on about the uniqueness of its growing regions and its innovative use of familiar grape varieties, for me the defining description of Australian wines is that they offer uncompromising value no matter how much they cost.

5/01/2017: Shiraz not run of the mill
The passage into a new year is bringing a rash of retrospection on the best- and worst-of during 2016. I have no qualms about declaring the wine bargain of the year as the $20-a-bottle Windowrie 2015 The Mill Shiraz. This is the red that last month won the NSW Wine Awards’ Wine of the Year title, as well as the trophies for the best young shiraz and the best red wine. It was made by Anthony D’Onise from grapes grown on the O’Dea family’s Canowindra vineyards, 30 kilometre north of Cowra. Anthony began his wine career in 2003 after gaining a University of Adelaide winemaking degree and joined Windowrie in 2010 after working at Charles Sturt University Wines in Wagga.

5/01/2017: Trinchero Family Estates launches Hopes End wine in US
Trinchero Family Estates has launched a wine brand aimed at Millennial consumers in the US market. Hopes End is made by Angove Family Winemakers in South Australia. The first expression is Hopes End Red Blend 2015 - a blend of Shiraz, Grenache, Malbec and Petit Verdot. The wine is aimed at 25-35 year olds, the company said. According to Trinchero the wine "taps into a psyche intrigued by the dark and mysterious". The grapes for the blend are sourced from McLaren Vale, Barossa and Murray Valley. Citing Nielsen figures, Trinchero said red blends are the third largest category in the US.

5/01/2017: The rise of gender-specific wine
Gender-based marketing is the latest buzz word in the wine world, with big players such as Constellation, Accolade and Treasury Wine Estates creating brands designed to appeal to specific sexes. Meanwhile, in Australia, Accolade Wines claims 74% of wine drinkers between 25 and 34 years old are women. So it's released a pink sauvignon blanc called Ta_Ku. Treasury Wine Estate is testing the waters too, releasing the red wine label The Stag targeting men; and Truvee for women.

5/01/2017: Tasmania exporting cool-climate wine to China
In the early 1990s Wang Shan came to visit Tasmania from Beijing. She was so taken with what she saw that she bought land north of Richmond to plant a vineyard so she could take something of what she loved about Tasmania back home to China. For her it was wine grown in a beautiful clean natural environment. Her vision was a vineyard selling Tasmanian wine into the lucrative Chinese gift market. General manager at Nocton Park, Anthony Woollams said it was hard to imagine two more different environments. "Tasmania has almost everything that Beijing doesn't — fantastic air, clean water, a product with great provenance … and all the things that Beijing really didn't have," he said.

5/01/2017: Carriageworks' huge Chinese New Year market
Following their massive 160-stall deep Christmas markets the good folk at Carriageworks have announced that they will be hosting a Chinese New Year market curated by Kylie Kwong in partnership with Sydney Festival. And the renowned chef has gone all out for her part in the market, bringing in over 50 stallholders from Neil Perry’s Eleven Bridge and the sorely missed Moon Park to the fresh Good Luck Pinbone and Mike McEnearney’s No. 1 Bent Street.

5/01/2017: The helicopter in the vineyard
Spring 2016 was the season for getting bogged in the vineyard. In some regions the access issues overlapped the important early-season spray application window. But help was available in the form of a helicopter. Nathan Gogoll reports.

4/01/2017: A new era for Hot 100
Hot 100 Wines welcomes a new chief judge and chief steward with winemaker Peter Dredge and wine distributor Mark Reginato taking the reins from Banjo Harris Plane and Trevor Maskell. Both Dredge and Reginato have history with the wine show. Dredge was a judge in 2013, when James Erskine was chief judge, while Reginato was first involved with the Hot 100 as a guest in 2010. Both men were involved in this year’s wine show, as a judge and steward respectively. Dredge, of Dr Edge and Brian Wine, is originally from South Australia but has been based in Tasmania for the last seven years.

4/01/2017: Hi, my name's Australia, and I have a drinking problem
In their 2015-16 annual report, FARE chairman Andrew Fairley AM and CEO Michael Thorn argued that alcohol's annual burden to Australian society was $36 billion, with direct costs to government nearing $10 billion, "Yet, the alcohol industry's tax contribution amounts to little more than $6 billion a year. The research showed a rational system of taxing alcohol could easily raise an additional $3 billion, contribute to 'budget repair', and cut alcohol harm by up to ten per cent." I'd raise a glass to the government and Big Alcohol getting serious about reducing harm from excessive drinking. But I wouldn't hold my breath. It's up to us to drink responsibly, to heed that half-hearted warning on the wine bottle. Because if we wait for the alcohol industry to help us, we'll be driven to drink.

4/01/2017: West Cape Howe Wines partners World Super 6 Perth
Guests and players at the inaugural ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth tournament in February will be wined and dined by one of Western Australia's best local vineyards as West Cape Howe Wines are today announced as the Official Wine Partner of the tournament. West Cape Howe WinesThe ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth will capture the attention of the world due to its unique format with West Cape Howe Wines coming on board to support and enhance this exciting tournament. "Being a local vineyard, we love supporting home grown events so it's terrific to be a part of an exciting new tournament format launching in Perth," said Gavin Berry from West Cape Howe Wines.

4/01/2017: Looking to 2017: Laura Jewell MW, Wine Australia
Highs included the Australia Day Tasting back in January. This was my first ADT since joining Wine Australia in February 2015. We set a new attendance record and feedback was excellent, with key trade figures asserting that Australia is more exciting than ever. We’re busy preparing for ADT 2017, which is set to be even bigger in a new venue, and we hope to emulate the success of 2016. Another high was partnering up with The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017, which will be held in Melbourne in April. It’s a big project, but is a fantastic opportunity to show off Australian wine – quality, diversity and versatility with food – to a global audience.

4/01/2017: Chinese winery’s plan for Australia faces delay
Chinese winery Wei Long Grape Wine’s plan to build an AU$80 million winery in Australia’s Victoria state may face a delay in construction and operation as a neighbouring winery lodged an objection concerning its potential impact on the local environment. A fellow ‘Sunraysia’ winery Zilzie filed an objection to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), complaining that the increased traffic to the proposed winery would adversely impact local roads, water and power supper supplies to other properties. “We were hoping that civil works on the site would be commencing about now; that was the initial timeline. Based upon where we are at at the moment it’s quite unclear, I suppose,” planning consultant James Golsworthy, who is responsible for the application for Wei Long, told the news site,

3/01/2017: Butterball sues Australian wine company over name
It just won’t stop when it comes to trademark disputes involving the alcohol industry. Such disputes between wine, beer, and liquor companies are legion. In such a crowded industry, it needs to be hammered home that the purpose of trademark law is not so that big companies can bully smaller companies, but rather so that customers are protected from imitation products and from being confused as to who they are buying from. The latest such dispute is between Butterball, the turkey-selling king based out of North Carolina, and a small wine company in Australia. At issue is one of McWilliam’s Wines Group’s chardonnays, which the company has branded as its Butterball Chardonnay.

3/01/2017: Winemakers Target Genders With Grapes of Math
Chardonnay alone used to be enough. Now brands are going further in appealing to the sexes. When Constellation Brands Inc. rolled out a new wine range recently, it relied on a strategy that doesn’t always mix well with consumers: gender-based marketing. The website for the Callie Collection, named after the California coast where the wine grapes are grown, shows four women in a backyard, spreading a picnic blanket on the grass near a pool. Wine varieties—Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and a red blend—were chosen because of their popularity with women. The bottle’s purple label with floral images was designed to attract female shoppers’ attention in a wine aisle dominated by dull colors.

3/01/2017: Wine and avocado dominate exports for 2016
It has been another big year for Australia’s horticulture industry with many commodities reporting increases in production and exports. In the wine sector Australia’s exports have increased by 13 per cent from April 2015 to March 2016. According to Wine Australia bottled wine exports grew by 16 per cent to $1.7 billion, the highest value in five years. Exports above $10 per litre increased 32 per cent to $492 million, which is a record level.

3/01/2017: Iconic SA winemaker turns 90
In the world according to landmark McLaren Vale winery d’Arenberg, a vivid imagination is as important as the great old vines and vineyards at the centre of the company’s huge number of wine labels. There are the mad sounding, like the Wild Pixie Shiraz or The Cenosilicaphobic Cat Sagrantino Cinsault. And the slightly naughty but scientifically correct The Noble Botryotinia Fuckeliana Sauvignon Blanc. And then there’s the more traditional and much-loved d’Arry’s Original Shiraz Grenache, a classic McLaren Vale red blend that, in an earlier version in 1967 when it was still known as “Burgundy”, won multiple trophies and scores of gold medals for close to a decade, kickstarting the d’Arenberg business to the extraordinary attraction it has become today.

3/01/2017: The Art of the Wine Label
The wine label has shaped South Australia’s design culture as it is the backbone to many studios in South Australia. A specialty not for every designer, there is an art to capturing the unique nature of the juice in the bottle, where it comes from and the creative person behind the wine, as well as designing something visually appealing and unique to the customer at the point of purchase. From early pioneers such as Wytt Morro to Barrie Tucker and Ian Kidd in the ‘80s and ‘90s through to contemporary designers such as Barbara Harkness, KSD, Parallax, Mash and Voice, these people have shaped the wine label and pushed the boundaries of design, not only in Australia, but internationally.

3/01/2017: Here’s cheers to 2016’s best-value wines
HERE’S a look back at the white wines that impressed Graeme Phillips as the best-value buys over the past six months. Most of the wines should still be available locally or online via the producer’s web page, and I hope these lists help as a value-for-money guide to happy summer drinking.

3/01/2017: Temple Bruer's sustainable efforts pay off
Creating a certified organic wine label with no additives and a long life span was fundamental for Langhorne Creek winery Temple Bruer. After going organic in 1995, winemaker, chief executive officer and chemist David Bruer said the benefits of offering organic wine with a carbon neutral footprint outweighed other factors. “When we first bought the Langhorne Creek land in 1986, the vines were crop dusted and my wife Barbara was furious so we decided to not use any foreign chemicals for the foreseeable future,” he said.

3/01/2017: Questions over MW exam in Australia
It is billed as the toughest wine exam in the world. However, the 2016 exam for budding MWs in Australia became even tougher after a major error in one question sent students – who had each paid A$5,000.00 ($3,590.00) to sit the exam - into panic. The exam was sat in early June 2016 in Sydney. On the first practical paper, one of three papers to be completed over three days, two white wines were placed before students. It was indicated that the wines were both from the same country and, it was claimed, they were both blends.

International Wine Industry News

20/01/2017: Novel New Zealand varieties find place on wine lists
New Zealand’s ‘monoculture’ of Sauvignon Blanc is being nibbled at by varieties like Albariño and Grüner Veltliner, some merchants are reporting. While quantities are tiny – Pinot Noir and Sauvignon still account for 70% and 74% of plantings respectively – ‘New Zealand is trying to show the world they are more than Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc’, as one buyer, Sergio Persi of Hallgarten Druitt & Novum told Imbibe. And distributors such as Negociants UK, Berkmann and others report considerable success with more unusual varieties.

20/01/2017: "Brexit exciting development" - NZ Winegrowers CEO
The CEO of trade organisation New Zealand Winegrowers has said that Brexit is an exciting opportunity for the wine trade. Speaking to just-drinks today, Philip Gregan said the UK's decision to leave the European Union would be a positive move in the medium- to long-term. "From a wine perspective, you're going to have the world's largest imported wine market, which is the US, and the world's second largest imported wine market, the UK, outside of the realm of the EU, which has been a dominant force in global wine trade. That's an exciting development... in the long term."

20/01/2017: Half of U.S. Wineries Might Be Sold in the Next Five Years
The Great Winery Sell-off of 2016 was just the beginning, both in the U.S. and abroad. When billionaire Stan Kroenke, owner of Napa cult winery Screaming Eagle and a slew of sports teams (including the L.A. Rams), bought a majority stake in December in iconic estate Bonneau du Martray in Burgundy, France, shock waves ricocheted around the wine world. The historic property has belonged to the le Bault de la Moriniere family since the French Revolution. Its grand cru Corton-Charlemagne is one of the planet’s great white wines. But that was only one of many high-profile wineries and vineyards to trade hands last year. In California and Oregon, more than 35 were sold.

20/01/2017: English fizz: The rise of UK sparkling wines
The bowel movements of badgers is not a common topic of wine conversation. But for Emma Rice, chief winemaker at Hattingley Valley in Hampshire and the current United Kingdom Vineyard Association Winemaker of the Year, badgers are just one of many problems that beset grape growers in southern England. "Viticulture in the UK is extreme," she tells me as we sit down over a glass of her award-winning sparkling wines. "We can get frost, wind, rain, mildew, botrytis – everything that can go wrong often does. In 2012, when we just didn't have a summer, we picked only five per cent of the grapes we normally harvest."

20/01/2017: Canadians are discriminating against foreign wine
Good luck trying to pick up a bottle of foreign wine while shopping for groceries in British Columbia. A local regulation in the Canadian province only allows the sale of local wine on grocery store shelves. The US says that this is in violation of Canadian trade obligations and has initiated a dispute at the World Trade Organization. “The discriminatory regulations implemented by British Columbia intentionally undermine free and fair competition,” Michael Froman, the US trade representative, said in a prepared statement. “Canada and all Canadian provinces, including BC, must play by the rules.”

20/01/2017: Wine industry seeing massive growth in Virginia
Virginia's wine industry contributes more than $1 billion to the Commonwealth's economy each year. Governor Terry McAuliffe says the economic impact of the industry has grown by 82 percent in the last five years. A newly released economic impact study shows Virginia's wine industry contributes more than $1.37 billion to the economy annually, and almost all of the major economic drivers looked at in the study shows double digit growth. The Virginia Wine Board commissioned the study, which is the first of the wine industry in Virginia since 2012.

20/01/2017: Wei Long winery aborts organic project in China
Chinese winery Wei Long Grape Wine Co is axing its organic wine project, less than a year after the company first announced the scheme last May. A listed company in China, Wei Long has been making organic wines in Gansu Province in western China for more than 10 years. The new project, announced last year, was expected to increase its production to 40,000 tonnes a year. Aborting the organic wine operation, according to the company’s statement, was a result of heightened competition from imported wines and a succession of natural calamities that drove it to “make sales strategy adjustments based on overall market and environment conditions”.

19/01/2017: Yealands wins at sustainable winegrowing comp
Yealands Family Wines (Yealands) are celebrating the start of 2017 with a Platinum Medal received at the International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing Competition run by The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT). BRIT honours organisations in the wine industry that are taking a leading role in implementing sustainable practices with its International Award of Excellence in Sustainable Winegrowing. The organisation looks at the implementation of innovative sustainable practices in the categories of air, water and land in both winegrowing and winemaking; social responsibility practices and the quality (taste) of the wine.

19/01/2017: Regionality and terroir: The battle for NZ Pinot Noir
Away from its Burgundian origins, Pinot Noir has found a home from home in the cool climates of New Zealand’s Marlborough, Nelson and Wairarapa regions. The popularity of the country’s second most planted grape – behind the indomitable Sauvignon Blanc - is clear. Pinot Noir accounts for 15% of New Zealand’s total wine producing hectares (5,514ha out of a total 35,463ha) and sales continue to grow in one of its key markets, the UK (imports were up 10% in 2016). In terms of geography, Marlborough produces twice as much as the next biggest production area (2,538ha to Central Otago’s 1,496ha according to New Zealand Winegrowers Report 2015).

19/01/2017: The State Of the Wine Industry: Silicon Valley Bank's Report
The making of wine is punctuated by annual, cyclical traditions, from pruning to harvest, from punch downs to stirring the lees, from bottling to laying those bottles down to age. The business of wine, too, is punctuated by certain reports, statements, and releases that, more than simply taking the pulse of the industry, also measure vital signs as well as danger warnings for what’s ahead. Today’s release of Silicon Valley Bank’s State of the Wine Industry report is one of those annual punctuation marks.

19/01/2017: Theresa May’s Brexit speech keeps wine trade guessing
Theresa May's speech on the UK's Brexit strategy filled in some blanks but left key questions unanswered for wine drinkers, workers, importers and retailers. Prime minister Theresa May confirmed this week that the UK was willing to sacrifice membership of the EU single market and customs union in order to secure greater control over immigration and leave the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. There have been warnings that the UK’s position in the global wine market could fundamentally change if the country leaves the European single market as a result of its Brexit vote.

19/01/2017: Virgin smashes Christmas target
Online retailer Virgin Wines has reported its biggest-ever Christmas, driven by increased membership, Prosecco and a stronger B2B business. Sales at the specialist wine company rose 15.4% in the nine weeks to 30 December, with total sales of £12.6m. Profits rose 35%, up £1.3m, compared to the same period last week, it said. Prosecco was again a big driver this year, shifting around 133k bottles over the festive period but Champagne sales also grew year on year, with Grower Champagnes on their own increasing 7%, and sales of premium Australian wine (costing more than £15 a bottle) up 5%.

19/01/2017: U.S. launches trade complaint against Canada wine rule
The Obama administration has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization to try to overturn one of the Christy Clark's wine reforms. United States Trade Representative Michael Froman has claimed that B.C.'s decision to allow only B.C. wines on grocery store shelves violates WTO rules. The Clark government allows foreign wines in grocery stores only if they're put in a separate store on the premises. It must have a separate entrance, a separate cash register, and be at least a kilometre away from a similar store.

18/01/2017: Marlborough wine companies prepared for average harvest
Marlborough wine companies look set to be able to handle harvest, which grape growers are describing as average or slightly below average in size. The industry suffered extensive damage in the November earthquake, which damaged tanks accounting for 20 per cent of overall storage capacity in the region. Since then, wine companies have been busy repairing and replacing tanks, as well as bringing in temporary storage and bottling early to free up space in time for harvest, in March. Wine Marlborough chairman Rhyan Wardman said the fact growers were saying it was likely to be an average-sized crop meant the industry was on track heading into harvest.

18/01/2017: The Pour Man: Kim Crawford and Nobilo
For more than three decades, New Zealand winemakers have been known for producing some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Until recently, however, the Kiwi producers haven’t been bringing home international accolades for their Pinot Noir. The country’s Burgundy-style wines are only just starting to receive high praise for having the complex qualities of their French cousins with a price tag that’s modest in comparison. The wines sold under the Kim Crawford and Nobilo labels are good examples of exceptional Pinot Noirs that are remarkable values.

18/01/2017: Life Is Unfair
When we start out with wine we all go through the same evolutionary stages. First, it's bewildering, what with these many terms such as tannins, fruitiness, finish, nose and so on. Then, as in learning a language, you begin to correlate words with experiences. Got it, you say. In our exploratory wine-buying, we all initially believe that expensive wines are better than cheap ones. After all it's largely true, up to a certain point. But true enough to seem like a pretty solid fact. But then comes a revelation of another sort: The seeming fact that expensive is always better than cheaper isn't as rock-solid as you once thought. We all arrive at this revelation only after having tasted a broad array of expensive wines, which gives us a baseline.

18/01/2017: Vinexpo Explorer targets world’s top 100 buyers
A Vinexpo initiative aimed at connecting leading buyers with wine and spirit producers is to have its first outing in Austria this September. Designed to give buyers access to producers on their home turf, Vinexpo Explorer will draw on the exhibition company’s global database to tailor trips to bring what it describes as the “buyers most appropriate to the export development objectives of the hosting wine region”. Taking in up-and-coming wine regions, with plans to roll out the initiative to include spirits producing regions, the initiative will focus on those countries and areas of production that can deliver volume, but are under-represented in the chosen buyers’ markets.

18/01/2017: Kazzit highest quarterly usership growth to date
Kazzit, the wine industry’s most all-inclusive online community, has announced a bullish end of the year in terms of company growth. The fourth quarter of 2016 showed a 30 percent increase in unique visitors over Q3, and a 400 percent increase over the previous year. These results were fueled by a recently refreshed design, enhanced content and search capabilities, the launch of the Kazzit mobile app, and international expansion into 17 new countries.

18/01/2017: Pop or twist?
The sound that stimulates associations – togetherness, distraction, pleasure, refreshment – that go far beyond just a gulp of alcohol. Thought to have originated in the 17th century, the cork and glass bottle have become synonymous with wines since then. In decades gone by, however, Australia and New Zealand have been the trendsetters for the now popular, and mostly polarising screw cap. In 2015, 93 percent of wines alone in New Zealand were sealed by screw cap. However, in Europe and the US, cork is still king.

17/01/2017: Making a connection sells Sileni
The personal touch is the most important thing for a successful cellar door, says Sileni Estate Winery cellar door assistant manager Simone McCormack-Hartley. "It is not so much bleating-on about your product as it is about interacting with people," she said. Sileni already had an excellent reputation "and that is part of it, but giving people an experience, that is more important". "Like most wineries we have more than 30 styles of wine and they are tasting such a small amount." There were six wines on the tasting table at any one time and they were changed every month.

17/01/2017: Marlborough Wine and Food Festival
The biggest party in Marlborough is less than a month away, a chance for residents and visitors alike to celebrate the wines that put the region on the map. Anticipation is building for the 33rd Marlborough Wine and Food Festival, which was name-checked by The New York Times earlier this month as one of the culinary festivals of the year. Wine Marlborough events manager Georgie Leach said ticket sales were up on last year, and she expected a capacity crowd of around 8000 at Brancott Vineyard, in Fairhall, come February 11.

17/01/2017: CRISPR-edited yeast could produce higher quality wine
Researchers working at the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Services (ACES) claim to have produced a yeast that could vastly increase the quality of wine while also reducing its hangover-inducing properties. Researchers developed what they call a “genome knife,” which allowed them to slice across multiple copies of a target gene until all the copies were cut, thereby making it impossible for any remaining genomes to correct any altered ones.

17/01/2017: How American Ownership Could Impact France's Historic Wines
A majority stake in legendary Burgundy producer Domaine Bonneau du Martray was recently sold to Enos Stanley Kroenke, owner of California’s Screaming Eagle and Jonata, and a number of professional sports teams, for an undisclosed amount. His move into the world of Burgundian wine now puts him at the helm of an estate that had previously been in the same family for approximately 200 years. Charles Curtis MW, a Master of Wine now with the fine-wine consultancy firm WineAlpha, highlighted the importance of Bonneau du Martray in an email to me.

17/01/2017: Treasury Wine Estates appoints new Canadian distributor
Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has appointed Mark Anthony Wine & Spirits to handle its wine portfolio in Canada. The partnership is part of TWE's plans to speed up its growth in the Canadian market. As per TWE president Americas Bob Spooner, Mark Anthony is the market leader in Canada for fine wines and is ideally positioned to make the most of the potential of TWE brands through a unique go-to-market strategy. Spooner added: “As fine wine producers themselves, Mark Anthony acts and thinks differently to other distributors and we are proud to have them leading our import and distribution strategy in Canada. Our Australian and American wine portfolio will be a great complement to their portfolio.”

17/01/2017: ‘Sustainable’ Sonoma wine could fetch $7-a-bottle more
U.S. wine consumers are willing to pay more for wine — up to several dollars more per bottle — produced using “sustainable” practices, according to new research presented at a Sonoma County grapegrower seminar in Santa Rosa on Thursday. Three years into a big push by Sonoma County Winegrowers to have all vineyards in the county deemed sustainable by 2019, the trade group revealed new consumer survey results strongly suggesting there could be more black than red in the return-on-investment calculation.

16/01/2017: New Zealand’s biggest wine event to hit wellington
The global wine trade will converge on New Zealand’s north island later this month for the country’s “most significant wine event” – Pinot Noir NZ 2017. Held every four years, with the Sauvignon Blanc NZ event taking place in intervening years, the three-day event attracts a wealth of winemakers, influencers and journalists to Wellington to debate and celebrate the success and future of one of New Zealand biggest exports. The sold out event includes a line-up of speakers from Japan, the United States, Australia and the UK, including Jancis Robinson MW, actor and NZ winemaker Sam Neil, the world’s only Master of Wine and Sake Ken Ohashi, and Tool frontman and winery owner Maynard James Keenan.

16/01/2017: New Zealand needs brand new story
As overseas consumers of New Zealand food become more diverse in their requirements, the need for a "NZ story" that compels them to continue eating and drinking Kiwi dairy, meat, fruit, wine and other edible exports is increasing. And this need has become more urgent as foreign competitors have ramped up their efforts to pitch their products in the same markets our primary sector supplies. Ireland's Origin Green initiative has a high profile among these rivals. Setting high standards for sustainability and animal welfare, it is achieving major buy in across the farming and processing sector and winning the hearts and minds of the Irish public along the way.

16/01/2017: This year, the wine industry should drink like the 99%
2017 is rolling in fresh and clean. Like every new year, this one brings with it that powerful urge to be off with the old trends and on with the new. What will this year bring for the wine industry? A look back over some recent trends may give us an idea. The 1990s brought us the rise of organic wine. As the USDA’s National Organic program went into effect, wine got an organic certification that consumers could look for as they began seeking out environmentally sound wine. As the organic wine movement stabilized, this trend morphed into a new one: the biodynamic wine trend. The wine world went back in time, utilizing the practices of philosopher Rudolf Steiner, father of the first organic movement ever.

16/01/2017: Wine and Weed Coming Together In Sonoma
The Wine Industry Network (WIN), in Healdsburg, CA. was created specifically to connect wine industry professionals with wine industry vendors and service providers. On January 12, 2017 WIN released a notice to the trade announcing the first ever Wine and Weed Symposium. It's a conference aimed at developing cohabitation among Calfornia wine and cannabis producers. This is a serious effort first, to recognize that wine and cannabis production have a great deal in common and second, to find out what those commonalities are and how each industry may hinder, but more importantly, help and support the other.

16/01/2017: This startup is taking the mystery out of wine pricing
Mark Tarlov, a 64-year-old winemaker, aims to do with his new venture, Alit, for wine what Everlane has done for cashmere sweaters: eliminate distributors and retailers to bring what would traditionally be a $60-100 bottle of wine to online customers for a fraction of the cost. Also like Everlane, he wants to upend the status quo by publicly declaring his input costs—crafting the story of how he spends those dollars into an accessible course in wine appreciation. “Understanding why wine costs what it costs gives you a sense of what is valuable,” says Tarlov. “The calculus is: How much pleasure do I get for how much money?”

16/01/2017: A Tour through Putin's Wine Cellar
Outside of Moldova’s capital of Chisinau lies Cricova, the second-largest wine cellar in the world. The stuff of legends, Cricova is more of an underground city than a cellar, occupying over 820,000 feet of space while extending over 75 miles. Situated 262 feet underground at it’s deepest point, the sprawling former limestone mine is a labyrinth that houses over 1.25 million bottles of wine, including its own brand of sparkling wine. Putin stores his private collection in these chalky corridors and chose the site for his 50th birthday celebration. But Putin is not the only world leader with a penchant for this wine cellar.

13/01/2017: Pinot Noir looks set to steal the limelight this January
New Zealand wine producers are gearing up for a high level of interest in their Pinot Noir wines at the annual trade tasting event in London next week, following the news that tickets for the popular Pinot Noir NZ event in Wellington, New Zealand, have already sold out. Pinot Noir NZ only takes place every four years and the organisers have announced that tickets for the three-day event have sold out, more than three weeks before it takes place.

13/01/2017: Marlborough viticulturist Ollie Davidson bound for Napa
Ollie Davidson discovered it is a difficult task to pack 30 years of living in Marlborough into 272 kilograms of air freight, destined for the United States. The viticulturist is saying goodbye to the region as he departs for a new role in the US' most famous wine region, the Napa Valley, on Friday. "It's amazing how much you accumulate after living in the same house for 10 years," he says. Following several months of planning and numerous farewell parties, he and wife Bridget said they were overwhelmed to be on the move.

13/01/2017: Wildfires Sweep Across South Africa Wine Country
Devastating wildfires are spreading throughout South Africa’s Western Cape wine region, causing extensive vineyard and property damage. The first fires began Jan. 3, threatening wineries including Vergelegen, Morgenster and Lourensford; another fire caused massive damage to wineries in the Dal Josafat region of Paarl. Unusually high winds with gusts of up to 60 miles per hour and exceptionally dry conditions have hampered firefighters’ efforts to control the blazes, with new outbreaks now reported on the Cape Peninsula, close to the wine region of Constantia.

13/01/2017: How Fine Is Wine?
Is it a luxury product, or a staple good? A bottle of 1946 Petrus can cost more money, gram for gram, than gold. At the other end of the spectrum, you can get a bottle of Spanish red for less than the price of the same volume of water. To Benjamin Franklin, wine was proof of divine love for humanity; to others, it's just grape juice that's gone off. Thanks to deep fragmentation among producers, massive market power among retailers, and a business model that's at the mercy of seasonal weather, there's just a handful of publicly traded winemakers worldwide.There are only four winemakers with market values of more than $1 billion.

13/01/2017: American’s coin new name for English sparkling
While the producers of English sparkling wine have been debating about a suitable brand name for their increasingly-popular product, the Americans have already chosen a term – and it may become protected. At the UKVA’s reception and dinner in London last night, Sam Lindo, who is chairman of the association, said that he believed consumers should decide on what to call sparkling wine from England, rather than the trade selecting a name, and then trying to get others to adopt it. Continuing, he said that one New York outlet had already coined it’s own term – ‘British Fizz’ – and, he added, it’s this brand name that English wine producers should consider using.

13/01/2017: Spain bans wine because it’s the wrong colour
When five young Spaniards came up with the idea of marketing a blue wine, it was dismissed by Spain’s traditional vintners as a gimmick that would never take off. But since launching on the market last summer, Gik has shaken up the industry and sold close to 100,000 bottles to clients in some 25 countries, becoming something of a must-have tipple among young hipsters. But now, the producers have been told they cannot market their produce as ‘wine’ because it is the wrong colour. "It is absurd because its composition is 100 percent wine," explain the entrepreneurs behind the product.

12/01/2017: New Zealand Annual Tasting coming to London
Following on from a successful 2016 when New Zealand (along with Argentina) topped the UK growth charts, the country is now keen to develop its presence in the UK market at its the annual trade tasting in London next week. New Zealand has managed to buck the trend of decline in the overall UK wine market thanks in part to the success of Sauvignon blanc, but now the country is keen to stress the diversity of its regions and grape varieties.

12/01/2017: Pinot Noir NZ 2017 attracts global leaders to Wellington
An astounding selection of global wine imbibers and influencers will descend on the nation’s capital this month for New Zealand’s most significant wine event, Pinot Noir NZ 2017. The sold out event includes a line-up of 30 speakers from Japan, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, who are tasked with sparking thought-provoking discussions among 600 Pinot Noir lovers from 20 different countries. Spearheading the line-up are the world’s most influential wine writer Jancis Robinson OBE, MW, the world’s only Master of Wine and Sake Ken Ohashi, and Tool frontman and winery owner Maynard James Keenan.

12/01/2017: Moldovans revealed as the biggest drinkers in the world
Brits may have a reputation for liking a tipple but they’re actually only the 17th booziest nation in the world, pipped to the top rankings by drinkers in a number of Eastern European countries. Moldovans are the world’s heaviest drinkers consuming the equivalent of 178 bottles of wine per person per year, shocking health data has revealed. And while Australians are the tenth most excessive drinkers, the United States doesn't even make the top 20, according to a fascinating new interactive map plotting alcohol consumption worldwide.

12/01/2017: The multinational naturalistas
Like it or not (battalions to both sides, no man’s land between), the major wine development of the century so far has been the move towards ‘natural’ wine. Shortly before Christmas, I got together with Eric Narioo and Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene, the British wine importer more closely associated with this groundswell than any other, to discuss that – and Les Caves’ strange success. Not only has it evaded the clutches of the VAT man, but Wregg and Narioo seem to have created a weird new business model based principally on “the journey”.

12/01/2017: Majestic Wine goes from £4m losses to record Christmas
Alcohol retail giant Majestic Wine has successfully navigated last year’s financial storm and posted its best ever Christmas trading period. Majestic’s turnaround plan has proven successful, posting like-for-like sales growth of 7.5 per cent in the 10 weeks to January 2, and a sales rise of 12.4 per cent on last year.The retailer now says it’s on track to meet its full year expectations and has embarked on a three-year turnaround plan, just months after reporting a £4.4 million loss in its half-year results.

12/01/2017: South Africa’s first black, female winemaker goes solo
In a country in which wine making is still predominantly a white, largely male profession, South Africa’s first black woman winemaker, Ntsiki Biyela, is a pioneer: her latest achievement, the creation of her own brand, Aslina. Biyela is no novice to wine making, having brought accolades to red wine producer Stellekaya for the past 13 years. But forging her own self-funded venture and uplifting others is her ultimate prize. Unless you really know South Africa, it would be difficult to understand the remarkability of Biyela’s journey. She grew up in Mahlabathini, a small rural village in Kwazulu-Natal, about 800 miles from South Africa’s Western Cape Winelands.

11/01/2017: From peak to peak – New Zealand’s pinot pioneer
Escaping Cold War tensions in his homeland of Switzerland in the early 1980s, Hätsch Kalberer of Marlborough’s Fromm Winery, was one of the revolutionaries responsible for making one of New Zealand’s first commercial Pinot Noirs. As the story goes, Hätsch got a job as a hose dragger at Matawhero Wines, on his arrival to the wild and woolly Southern land, where he slowly learnt the art of winemaking. As the story goes, Hätsch got a job as a hose dragger at Matawhero Wines, on his arrival to the wild and woolly Southern land, where he slowly learnt the art of winemaking.

11/01/2017: Peter Stevens: Traceability key for China trade
Food quality and food safety are huge concerns in China. New Zealand businesses must share those concerns if they are to continue growing the volume and value of their food and beverages sold to the increasingly affluent Chinese public. We might think New Zealand milk products, meat, wine, honey and so on are world-leading on quality and safety. But what actually matters is our capacity for maintaining and protecting the quality and safety of every shipment to China – and our capacity to answer the questions of consumers in that market. In short, New Zealand producers and exporters need to get really serious about the "T" word.

11/01/2017: California wine country is hit hard by storms
Wine country in Sonoma County was hit hard by recent storms, which have brought up to 13 inches of rain since Friday. Rolling hills and vineyards along the scenic route known as River Road were submerged Monday with just the tips of vines visible in completely flooded fields. The Russian River in Sonoma rose to its highest level since 2006, spilling over its banks and forcing the closure of schools and roads.

11/01/2017: 'Port sales are not in decline’ says Fells MD
Port sales are not in decline, says Steve Moody, MD at Fells – the UK importer for Symington Family Estates – in response to WSTA figures published last month recording a drop in Port sales over the past 10 years in the UK. Following a story on thedrinksbusiness.com which stated that fortified wine sales in the UK have more than halved in the past 10 years, Moody put up a strong defence of the Port market, noting that it was a “dynamic and value-generating sector” that was “not in decline”.

11/01/2017: Stellenbosch: home of cape cabernet
Stellenbosch has the wine, the people and the natural beauty to rival any wine tourism region on earth. If the district leads with any variety in particular, then it leads with Cabernet Sauvignon but are global wine drinkers really aware of it and its wines? For one thing, Stellenbosch hasn’t been making benchmark Cabernet Sauvignon for very long, not when compared to Bordeaux, the traditional home of the variety. Kevin Arnold of Waterford situated on one of Stellenbosch’s most significant mountains called the Helderberg suggests that the 1960s and 1970s were a pivotal time in the establishment of the variety in the area.

11/01/2017: Prosecco fuels Aldi’s Christmas
Sales of Prosecco fueled a record Christmas for discounter Aldi in the UK, as it revealed it sold more than 13.5m bottles of wine during December. The discounter reported overall sales up 15% across its branches during the Christmas period, but highlighted in particular the strength of its BWS category, although no like-for-like sales have been released. More than 2 million bottles of the Italian sparkler were sold by the discounter during December – estimated at 69,000 each day across the month, with 13.5m bottles of sparkling and still wine over the month.

10/01/2017: John Saker: Up next, Kiwi martinis
Kiwi gins are everywhere. We also now make excellent tonic water in this country. Where to next? In a wine-producing country such as ours, the signposts all pointed to vermouth. That destination has duly been reached with the arrival on the market of two New Zealand dry white vermouths. The age of the all-Kiwi gin martini is upon us. Vermouth – wine stiffened with added spirit and laced with interesting botanical flavours – is nearly as old as wine itself. Variations have popped up in different places at different times. The big invariable though, if the drink is to be called vermouth, is the presence of wormwood.

10/01/2017: An urban Vino
It’s somewhat fitting that a historian should want to set up shop in Dunedin’s historic precinct. However Brendan Seal isn’t establishing a bookbinders, art gallery or even a whiskey distillery, his vision for an urban winery is now a reality. Historically, Seal has been connected to the wine industry for the best part of two decades. After talking his way into a vintage at Villa Maria in 1997 and then heading offshore to Oregon, Seal landed back in Dunedin where he wrote his Masters’ thesis on the wine industry.

10/01/2017: Spain’s top women winemakers
From fearless bullfighters to its World Cup-winning football team, Spain is a country that celebrates the traditionally masculine qualities of physical strength, courage, assertiveness and confidence. For a woman, getting to the top of your game in the male-dominated wine world is hard enough – doing so in a macho country such as Spain is all the more impressive. While a number of the women on our list, including María José López de Heredia and Mireia Torres, were born into famous wine families and have worked hard to emerge from their fathers’ shadows, others have entered the game out of a pure passion for wine, rising to the top through sheer determination and true grit.

10/01/2017: Wine skips from officials to public as market re-emerges
China’s wine market is emerging from a recent state of flux to offer cheer to the growing number of wine businesses that are invested in one of the world’s biggest import markets. According to a newly released report, the evolution in tastes and wealth of wine’s Chinese consumer base has been central to a recent turnaround in demand for imports. Marc Soccio, Rabobank senior analyst and author of the report, said the Chinese market had substantially changed in terms of how wine is being marketed, bought and enjoyed. Until recently, imports of wine were traditionally used to cater for demand mostly from government officials and corporate high-flyers.

10/01/2017: ProWein highlights innovation and inspiration
ProWein, one of the wine industry’s biggest trade shows, will once again open its doors in Düsseldorf, Germany, from March 19–21. More than 6,300 exhibitors from 60 countries are scheduled to attend the event, topping last year’s record count of 6,200 from 59 countries. Ecuador, Poland, Indonesia and Myanmar (formerly Burma) will present wines for the first time this year. While wine is ProWein’s predominant focus, approximately 400 spirits exhibitors are also expected. Both the Champagne Lounge and Organic World are slated to return, while the FIZZZ Lounge—a creative space dedicated to mixology, craft beer and even coffee—seeks to push its boundaries.

10/01/2017: Health nannies waging war on moderate drinking
January marks the 98th anniversary of the ratification of the 18th Amendment, more commonly known as Prohibition. While Prohibition is remembered as one of America’s greatest failed experiments, today we’re seeing something of a revival of prohibitionist thinking among the public health community who have begun to attack even moderate alcohol consumption in earnest. There is long-standing consensus about the negative health and social impacts of excessive alcohol consumption. But for decades there has also been widespread agreement about the health benefits from a regular glass or two of your favorite beer, wine or spirit.

9/01/2017: FTA boosting exports to Korea
The start of 2017 saw two thirds of New Zealand’s exports to Korea become duty free, up from 46% in 2016. Trade Minister Todd McClay says more local food businesses looking to expand into Korea will benefit from the latest round of tariff reductions under the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement, signed December 2015. New Zealand has experienced strong results particularly in the food and beverage sector where exports to Korea have increased by over 16%. While New Zealand is ranked as Korea’s 10th-largest wine importer, we are emerging as a source of high quality wine among early adopters in the market.

9/01/2017: New head winemaker at La Crema winery
La Crema winery in Windsor, which was purchased by Santa-Rosa’s Jackson Family Wines in 1993, has announced the promotion of Craig McAllister to the position of head winemaker. McAllister joined La Crema as the harvest enologist in 2007. Announcing the move, the winery stated McAllister helped to further develop La Crema’s collection of single vineyard chardonnay and pinot noir wines in his most recent post as associate winemaker. McAllister has also made wine for Wild Ridge, crafting pinot noir from vineyards on the rugged Sonoma Coast.

9/01/2017: The Wine Stories That Will Shape 2017
This coming era is going to be crazy and sometimes painful. I’m talking politics, but our cultural choices, including wine, are at an inflection point, too. Drinking is often a political act, even when we don’t intend it to be, and today we face more complexity than ever: How natural is natural wine? What farming is actually sustainable, and what’s just lip service? Am I giving my money to a small producer or to a big company? Are we elevating once-obscure places, or just shoving them into the crush of globalism?

9/01/2017: Wine Stories: Mexico’s Wine Renaissance
The Mexican wine industry is simultaneously the birthplace of North American wine and its newest frontier. It boasts the oldest winery in the New World and it is one of the largest growers of grapes in the Americas, but paradoxically makes only a tiny 20 million liters of wine a year. By comparison, the United States produces three billion liters. Mexico has over 100,000 acres of vineyards, but most of these are devoted to brandy production. Mexico, incidentally, is the third largest producer of brandy in the world. The origins of Mexico’s wine industry go back to 1521 and the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire.

9/01/2017: It's wine o'clock but there's a shortage
Dire predictions of future wine shortages make for good copy. The media needs a constant stream of stories and tales of hailstorms, late frosts, flooding and other random acts of nature help fill pages, online and off. A year or so ago, it was northeast Italy. I certainly haven’t noticed a great Prosecco shortage in our wine bars, or any massive price increases. If anything the opposite seems the case. As well as providing news, such scaremongering may help producers push their prices up a little. Generally I ignore these tales of alarm.

9/01/2017: Falcons, Drones, Data: A Winery Battles Climate Change
On a misty autumn morning in Sonoma County, Calif., Katie Jackson headed into the vineyards to assess the harvest. It was late in the season, and an army of field workers was rushing to pick the grapes before the first rains, however faint, began falling. But on this day, Ms. Jackson, the vice president for sustainability and external affairs at Jackson Family Wines, was not just minding the usual haul of cabernet, chardonnay and merlot grapes. She also checked on the sophisticated network of systems she had put in place to help crops adapt to a changing climate.

6/01/2017: O'Dwyers Creek Vineyard finds niche with kosher wines
Making kosher wine can be a logistical challenge, but one Marlborough wine company has found its niche meeting the dietary requirements of observant Jews. O'Dwyers Creek Vineyard owner Lindsay Dahlberg was the first person to start making kosher wine in the region after Jewish friends told him there was demand for kosher sauvignon blanc. The former Oyster Bay grapegrower, who owns an 8-hectare vineyard in Rapaura, teamed up with contract winery Marlborough Vintners for the first kosher vintage in 2010. To make wine kosher, every stage of the winemaking process has to be handled by a mashgiach, an observant Jew who oversees the production of kosher products.

6/01/2017: Millennials, Women and China are Disrupting the Wine Industry
The wine industry, much like the financial services industry, is being disrupted by demographic shifts. A recent study performed by Tiburon Strategic Advisors indicates that the wine industry is set to grow steadily over the next five years, making it potentially attractive space for investors. Chip Roame, Managing Partner at Tiburon, discussed this expected growth in a recent call and noted, “I can’t find a single metric that would suggest otherwise.” The research attributes its bullish sentiment largely to many of the same key demographics that are driving changes in financial services markets as a whole. In short, Millennials, women and Asians all really like wine.

6/01/2017: Irish tasters pick top wines for Australia Day Tasting
Wine Australia has asked eight members of the Irish wine trade to pick out the Australian wines, which have inspired them the most for the line-up of the Australia Day Tasting in Dublin on 30 January. In advance of the Australia Day Tasting, eight members of the Irish wine trade who have visited Australia over the last few years were asked to nominate two favourite Australian wines. The group includes: Liam Campbell (wine writer and educator), Martin Moran MW (wine writer and broadcaster), Gavin Ryan (owner of The Black Pig in Kinsale), Colm McCan (consultant sommelier and wine lecturer at Ballymaloe House) and Harriet Tindal (Tindal Wine Merchants) amongst others. Covering still, sparkling, sweet and fortified, the wines selected demonstrate the variety of contemporary Australian wine. The line-up will include wines from cool climate regions, alternative varieties and the line-up will also challenge the traditional assumptions of Australian wine.

6/01/2017: India to prove troublesome in 2017 for drinks MNCs
A combination of increased taxation and alcohol sales restrictions – and the withdrawal of high-value notes – will make India a major headache for Diageo and Pernod Ricard in the year ahead. Diageo and Pernod Ricard, respectively the world’s two largest premium beverage alcohol groups, have just drawn the lines under their figures for the six months that ended on New Year’s Eve. When they announce those results in about four week’s time, both are expected by analysts to show continuing progress growing in organic sales and profits, confirming their previous guidance.

6/01/2017: Grace Vineyard partners with ASC for China market expansion
China’s leading boutique family winery, Grace Vineyard, has officially parted ways with its long time distributor Torres and partnered with ASC Fine Wines to distribute its wines in mainland China, citing differences in “development directions” as the main reason for ending relations with Torres. “Torres had been a great partner and we really appreciate everything they have done to help build Grace Vineyard. However, our development directions no longer aligned with each other. It seems to be the time for us to go our separate ways,” Judy Chan, president and CEO of Grace Vineyard, told dbHK in an email reply. Torres first started distributing Grace Vineyard wines in 2004. “ASC Fine Wines is China’s leading wine importer and distributor. We hope the cooperation will expand our market presence in mainland China.”

6/01/2017: La Crema promotion for Craig McAllister
Acclaimed artisan winery La Crema today announced the promotion of Craig McAllister to the position of Head Winemaker. McAllister, who first joined La Crema as the harvest enologist in 2007, has been a passionate steward of La Crema's Monterey program and played a vital role in elevating the winery's Sonoma Coast portfolio throughout his tenure. In addition, he has helped to further develop La Crema's esteemed collection of single vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. In his new role, McAllister, who has most recently served as associate winemaker, will gain increased responsibility for the oversight of all winemaking operations.

6/01/2017: Jancis Robinson donates personal papers to UC Davis
British author Jancis Robinson, called “the most respected wine critic and journalist in the world” by Decanter magazine, has donated her archive from over four decades of wine writing to the library at the University of California, Davis. “I feel extremely honored that all my papers, notebooks, tasting notes and professional photographs have found a home in a part of the world that has been so important to me and my life’s work in wine,” Robinson said. “It is a particular pleasure to be in the company of such towering figures in the world of wine as Hugh Johnson, Robert Mondavi and Maynard Amerine in the famous UC Davis Library.”

6/01/2017: Wine grape industry continues hot growth
September U.S. wine sales rose from $3.3 billion to $3.7 billion, helping set an annual pace to boost the industry’s overall retail value for the 11th consecutive year, Yakima Valley College agriculture professor Trent Ball said at the annual meeting of the Washington Grape Society in mid-November in Grandview, Washington. Red blends led the surge with 18 percent growth in off-site sales, he said, while Cabernet Sauvignon increased in sales across nearly all price points.

6/01/2017: The secret history of blending wines
Unlike much of what goes on in today’s wine industry, blends weren’t the result of a fad, a catchy PR campaign, a TV show, or a Top 40 song. The tradition of blending dates back millennia, to times when mixed vineyards served as an insurance policy against Mother Nature’s wrath, and a reliable harvest trumped flavor nuances. Like a band of superheroes bonded together for the common good of mankind, a good blend can bring out the extraordinary qualities of ordinary grape varieties.

5/01/2017: Wines from New Zealand named the biggest winners of 2016
Brits’ love of New World wine accelerated in 2016, with New Zealand and Argentina showing the biggest sales growth in the 12 months to November 2016. New Zealand, led by Sauvignon Blanc, racked up £546m worth of sales in UK shops, bars and restaurants (WSTA figures) – an increase of 14% on 2015. Australian wine is still top when it comes to wine sold in UK supermarkets, shops and off licences, but the growth of New Zealand and Argentinian wine is the most impressive overall. Despite being on average more expensive per bottle than any other top ten country in UK stores, sales of New Zealand wine continues to grow.

5/01/2017: Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco is tasting her way around Nelson
Nelson has been hit with a big bang after Kaley Cuoco and her boyfriend Karl Cook were spotted tasting fine wine and dining out for breakfast. The Big Bang Theory actor visited The Cellar Door restaurant in Richmond around 11am on Friday for breakfast. Seventeen-year-old Richmond resident Sam McKenzie said he was having breakfast in the restaurant when Cuoco and Cook walked in. "We assumed it was someone else just having breakfast and then I looked over and thought, 'is that who I think it is?'," he said. Cuoco also visited Nelson's Brightwater Vineyards tasting room on Thursday morning with Cook and his family of about seven people.

5/01/2017: As 2017 Begins, Brexit's Impact on Wine Remains Cloudy
The United Kingdom, one of the world's largest wine markets, faces an uncertain future as it leaves the European Union and negotiates new trade deals. It was one of 2016's biggest news stories: the United Kingdom's vote for Brexit. And as 2017 begins, the government has just started the complex process of leaving the European Union. For wine, some effects of last June's referendum are being seen, but the long-term consequences are still hazy. "We have indeed felt a bit of a reduction in the shipments to the U.K. since the Brexit referendum," said Joao Machete Pereira, export director of Marqués de Murrieta in Rioja. In the immediate aftermath of the decision, "several players froze and decided to put on hold their scheduled shipments." Then, he says, shipments again slowed as the pound began losing value.

5/01/2017: Battle of the bulk: The world’s biggest exporters
n 2015, global bulk wine exports reached a record 36.3 million hectolitres – a 3% increase on 2014 – but dropped in value by 13.7% to US$3.1 billion, according to Italy’s Il Corriere Vinicola. While high volumes kept prices relatively low for buyers in 2015, 2016 has, to some extent, seen the pendulum swing in the opposite direction, with a smaller harvest and less supply driving prices up. In Europe, severe hailstorms in France hit the bulk wine region of the Languedoc, while drought across much of Europe has driven down yields, with France recently reporting on its smallest harvest in 30 years. In the southern hemisphere, 2016 harvests in Chile and Argentina dropped by 30% and 25% respectively, due largely to the effects of El Nino. Here, the rising price of bulk wine has left international buyers grappling with fluctuations in price and limited supply.

5/01/2017: Uncorked: Emma Gao of Silver Heights
Emma Gao, the formidable winemaker behind China’s leading boutique winery Silver Heights in northern China, is one of the forefront vintners revolutionising consumers’ attitude towards Chinese wines. A certified oenologist trained in Bordeaux, Gao studied oenology at Bordeaux University and later honed her winemaking skills at Château Calon-Ségur, where she met her husband Thierry Courtade, winemaker at the estate. Her first vintage, 2007, was greeted with applause from domestic and international wine experts. Her 100% Cabernet Sauvignon ‘Emma’s Reserve’ and a Bordeaux blend ‘The Summit’ are among the most prized China produced reds.

5/01/2017: Berlin’s Secret Cold War-Era Vineyard
Mention the word “vineyard” and most people will think of rolling green hillsides or sweeping valley views. Yet few of them would expect to find one right in the heart of one of Berlin’s hippest districts, Kreuzberg. A true relic from the Cold War era, this tiny urban vineyard is one of the German capital’s best kept secrets. The vineyard covers a tenth of a hectare and it produces about 350 bottles of wine yearly, called Kreuz-Neroberger. Grapes for the rare wine are grown at the very birthplace of the first programmable computer in the world, which only adds to its mystique. It is notoriously hard to obtain. Over the last couple of years the secret vineyard has been overseen by Daniel Mayer, a jolly 44-year master oenologist and winemaker.

5/01/2017: Scientists disprove ‘fruit/root day’ differences
A team of scientists in New Zealand has published a report they say disproves there is any difference in ‘Fruit’ and ‘Root’ days in the biodynamic tasting calendar. In a paper entitled: “Expectation or sensorial reality? An Empirical Investigation of the Biodynamic Calendar for Wine Drinkers”, the authors (Wendy Parr, Dominique Valentin, Phil Reedman, Claire Grose and James Green) asked 19 wine professionals in New Zealand – including a number of oenologists who work in organic and biodynamic ways – to try 12 different Pinot Noirs (from various regions) on both ‘fruit’ and ‘root’ days as determined by the biodynamic calendar.

5/01/2017: $300 Chinese wine arrives in America
If you pay even casual attention to the wine world you’ll be aware that China has recently emerged as a major player – it's estimated consumption has been rising 15% annually – but most people, bemused by headlines of the fantastic auction prices big-name Bordeaux has fetched in Hong Kong, and amused by the often ludicrous attempts of counterfeiters to pass off Chateau Lafight and Chateau Lafete as the real thing, focus on China as a market for other country’s wines.

5/01/2017: Clos Rougeard sold to billionaire
“Winery X, in family for generations, sold to billionaire” is a headline that would normally barely raise an eyebrow. But the winery in today’s news is Clos Rougeard from the Loire. Located in Saumur, Clos Rougeard is the Bentley of the Loire. The wines, almost all red, are expensive, rare and of exceptional quality–the kind of wines that can turn haters of Cabernet Franc into ambassadors.

4/01/2017: Geoff Thorpe honoured for contribution to wine industry
Riversun director Geoff Thorpe had to have a sit down, then said nothing for five minutes as the contents of the letter he had just opened sank in. Overwhelmed and totally stunned were the first reactions, he said. After five minutes he turned to look at his wife Anna and asked, “did you know about this? Maybe,” she said. Since then, the couple have kept the news under their hats until today. Mr Thorpe has been made an Officer of The New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in the New Year Honours list for 2017 for services to the wine industry.

4/01/2017: Attention to detail vital for wine
Creating wine is an age old process. But the key to creating award winning wine is attention to detail and consistency, says John Coney, owner of The Wine Portfolio, which has rebranded its winery on the outskirts of Katikati to Leveret Estate. The company notched up a gold award at the Hawkes Bay Wine Awards for its Leveret Reserve Chardonnay and two golds at the premier Air NZ Wine Awards for its Leveret Chardonnay and Leveret Viognier. Its Leveret Reserve Merlot Cabernet is now in Air NZ business class. John bought what was Morton Estate in 1995. Since 1978 the estate has been a place where wine making is seen as an art, and not just a business.

4/01/2017: 25 ways to leave your wine love
This got me to thinking about an equally simplistic way to combat the epidemic of wine complacency. Such a diagnosis was offered by Charles Chambless, who manages a wine shop in Ohio. In my last Drinking Out Loud column, "The Greatest Gift," Mr. Chambless commented: "I manage a wine shop. I can tell you that I love esoteric wines. I carry many … including Lagreins, Teroldegos, Moschofileros, Bonardas and many more. The only people who buy these wines are the wine geeks like me. The general population isn't interested. When I do tastings with such wines, people are amazed. But they go right back to their usual suspects: the 25 or so wine types that are familiar when they do their shopping." That's it, isn't it? "The 25 or so wine types that are familiar when they do their shopping."Can anyone doubt the truth of Mr. Chambless' assertion?

4/01/2017: Institute of Masters of Wine moves into new HQ
The Institute of Masters of Wine has moved into new headquarters in London’s Riverlight Quay development by the Thames in Vauxhall. The office, which is within a recently-completed riverfront residential development in the Nine Elms area, has been bought by the Institute (IMW), giving the educational body a permanent place in London – it was leasing offices in Fitzrovia before the move. The new space gives the IMW an events space large enough for seated tastings for 45 people, a wine storage and preparation area, and a separate meeting room for Masters of Wine.

4/01/2017: Argentina tops UK off-trade growth in 2016
Argentine wine saw the biggest growth in UK off-trade sales during 2016, followed by New Zealand, according to figures released by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) in its Q4 end of year Market Report. Argentina-Mendoza-Vineyard-with-Mountain-View. Argentina saw the biggest growth in terms of UK sales in 2016, driven by demand for Malbec. While the WSTA said Australia remains the biggest-selling wine producing country in terms of UK sales, Argentina and New Zealand wines showed the most growth in the 12 months to 5 November 2016. UK off-trade volume sales of Argentine wine reached 20 million litres in volume, the equivalent of almost 27 million bottles – up 32% on the same period last year. By value, off-trade sales of Argentine wines reached £155m during the same period – up 31% on the same period last year.

4/01/2017: Tmall unveils its top 10 wines of 2016
China’s leading e-tailer, Tmall.com, has unveiled its top 10 wines of 2016 based on consumers’ order volumes, repeat orders and wineries’ brand appeal, with Chinese favourites such as Penfolds and Bordeaux reds making the rounds. But surprises include the top prize winners, a relatively unknown Chinese Cabernet and a Canadian ice wine. A Chinese red won the top prize. “The biggest surprise” as the retailer described it was the 2013 Niya Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Red from CITIC Guo’an group in Shandong province in eastern China. The wine won the ‘Gold Prize’ outranking Penfolds and several Bordeaux reds after a panel of judges headed by Taiwan-based Mark Pygott MW blind tasted all wines on the top 10 list selected by Tmall to decide their respective rankings. None of the wineries from China’s Ningxia or Xinjiang such as Silver Heights, Tiansai Vineyard made the list however.

3/01/2017: NZ savvy top tipple for UK wine buffs
Despite Brexit, New Zealand sauvignon blanc continues to set the pace for sales of wine varieties in the United Kingdom, showing the strongest growth this year. Only Argentina malbec came close to equalling New Zealand sauvignon growth of 15 per cent on 2015, according to the UK Wine & Spirit Trade Association's (WSTA) end of year report. Concern has sometimes been raised among analysts that New Zealand is too dependent on the variety, which accounts for 85 per cent of exports, worth in total $1.6 billion a year.

3/01/2017: Wine dream bears fruit
Consistent yields had been a struggle for vineyards in the tiny wine-producing region since viticulture began there in 2003, keeping away investors.‘‘We are the latest in New Zealand — I think we probably are — to harvest. We are right at the end of the spectrum, but the quality of wines that have come out of here are outstanding. And that’s what’s kept us in it. "That’s what got me hooked. I always believed it would work — but certain sites are better than others."

3/01/2017: Britain’s sparkling wine exports post new record
Britain last year exported sparkling wines to a record number of countries as the industry seeks a 10-fold increase in exports by 2020. As New Year’s Eve revelers worldwide prepared to raise a glass to see out 2016, the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the nation exported sparkling wines to 27 countries last year, up from 19 a year earlier. Sales of English fizz also boomed domestically, with Marks and Spencer Group PLC doubling sales in its stores.

3/01/2017: Organic wine tastes better, study of 74,000 bottles shows
Organic wine has divided experts for decades, with some claiming the natural process damages taste while others argue grapes contain so many natural pesticides that it makes a mockery of the label. But a new study shows it really is worth going natural. Researchers from the University of California trawled through the expert reviews for more than 74,000 wines which appeared in the three of the world’s best wine-rating magazines. They discovered that organic wines - which are labelled as ‘ecocertified' in the US - scored an average of 4.1 points higher than their non-organic counterparts, our of a score of 100. The academics speculate that adopting organic practices and banishing pesticides allows microbes in the soil to flourish, which enhances the flavour of grapes and give a truer representation of the ‘terroir’ or the natural environment of the vine.

3/01/2017: Women of the Vine & Spirits Global Symposium Sells Out
Women of the Vine & Spirits opened and closed registration for a record 700 attendees to its annual Global Symposium in just 24 hours. The Symposium, the largest gathering of women in the alcohol beverage industry, takes place March 13-15, 2017 at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, California. “It is an incredible achievement and we should all be very proud. To think that, two years ago, I was praying someone would show up – I’m speechless,” said Women of the Vine & Spirits Founder and President, Deborah Brenner. “Based on overwhelming demand, it’s clearer than ever that we have started a movement and together, we can change the face of the alcohol beverage industry.”

3/01/2017: Bordeaux wine mart recovers on weak pound
The Bordeaux wine market confirmed its recovery in 2016 after five years of declines that cut prices of the region’s leading wines by more than 40 percent from their 2011 peak, according to a review from the London-based Liv-ex exchange. The Liv-ex Fine Wine 50, which comprises 10 recent vintages of Bordeaux first-growth wines including Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Chateau Latour, climbed about 26 percent for the year, and was heading for its 13th straight monthly gain in December, according to Liv-ex data.

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