Winebiz - Australia's Wine Industry Portal By Winetitles

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

21/02/2017: Adelaide Hills winemaker seeks distributor(s)
Anvers Estate vineyard and cellar door is nestled near Kangarilla in the Adelaide Hills where 16 hectares are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. The wines produced are beautifully-made, elegant and mid-weight examples that have received excellent reviews, both here at home and abroad. The winery is currently seeking to engage Victorian and New South Wales distributors.

21/02/2017: New energy efficiency schemes set to benefit grapegrowers and wine producers
If your business struggles with high energy usage and you are keen to reduce your environmental footprint as well as your power bills, then call AWRI Commercial Services and speak to an environmental advisor. Services are available to help you implement energy saving solutions such as more effective vineyard irrigation or more efficient refrigeration in the winery.

21/02/2017: Wine business and grape growing disputes?
Wine companies and grape growers, who become embroiled in commercial disputes, will save time and costs by consulting an experienced, specialist wine sector lawyer. This negates the need for a lawyer to learn on the job (at the client’s expense), and ensures all relevant matters are carefully considered, and informed advice is given.

21/02/2017: Building customer loyalty locally
The Retail Chain Hack: Whole Foods is a store that knows how to introduce new and exciting products and make them a success. We look at the techniques they use to do this well, repeatedly.

13/02/2017: Langhorne Creek Wines put to the test
Entries are now open for the 2017 Langhorne Creek wine show, supported by William Buck. Heading towards the 4th official wine show, Langhorne Creek is once again excited to be calling for entries in all classes, including the multi-regional blends class. Nick Ryan is back on board this year to Chair the show and is joined by David Brookes and Sue Bell.

13/02/2017: Exploring the Bulk Route to Boost your Winery’s Sales
Like many wineries, if your sales numbers have been stagnant over the past few years, there is a new approach that you must explore. Make your winery profitable again by delving into how bulk wine can help sales thrive and ways to get started […] Continue reading.

Australian Wine Industry News

24/02/2017: On an elevated stage: The Granite Belt
There are some misconceptions about the Granite Belt that need to be addressed. They don’t grow pineapples and bananas at the end of the vine rows. Far from it. In fact, the region is well known for its apple, vegetable and stone fruit crops. It’s probably a hot and humid region. Actually, the Granite Belt is the coldest region in Queensland, and the locals refer to winter as ‘brass monkey’ season. It doesn’t get to wear an official ‘cool climate’ tag as the MJT is 21.5°C (Mean January Temperature). However, there are some vineyards planted at more than 1000m elevation.

24/02/2017: Penalty rate decision
There will be “no immediate operational impact” for the grape and wine community from the recent Fair Work Commission decision on weekend penalty rates in the hospitality and retail industries. The decision handed down by the Fair Work Commission has no application for employers and employees covered by the Wine Industry Award 2010.

24/02/2017: Swan Valley counts flood costs
Catastrophic floods are estimated to have cost Western Australia’s Swan Valley wine region millions of dollars in fruit losses right at the climax of this year’s growing season. The region, which has been declared a ‘natural disaster zone’ by government officials, received an unprecedented deluge of rain this month. Water burst the banks of the Swan River and flooded many of the low lying vineyards in the vicinity. While nearby Sandalford Wines had picked most of the whites prior to the rains, chief executive Grant Brinklow said there was no time to save the Chenin Blanc or Semillon.

24/02/2017: Hands-on experience at Adelaide’s Cellar Door Fest
Squishing red grapes between your toes is one feel-good activity that will “help make people’s lives better” this weekend. So says the man behind one of the most creative interactive attractions of the Cellar Door Fest which runs from Friday until Sunday. Attendees will be invited to join in the grape-stomping between educational sessions, says Vinteloper owner/winemaker David Bowley. “You can take off your shoes and touch the grapes with your feet and hands, and get a real feeling for the process.”

24/02/2017: Drayton South mine expansion rejected again
A major Hunter Valley mine expansion has been rejected for the fourth time, amid concerns it poses too many risks to the environment. Mining giant Anglo American had proposed its Drayton South project several years ago, but it was rejected three times, ahead of its latest assessment. The independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) today said there were too many risks in relation to noise, air quality and other impacts.

23/02/2017: New era of winemaking at Charles Sturt University
The clink of glass on the bottling line will mark the beginning of a new era of winemaking at Charles Sturt University (CSU) this week. Chardonnay will be one of the first of the new wines produced under CSU's boutique brand to be bottled today. Campbell Meeks, CSU winemaker, said the new brand will also showcase the unique characteristics of premium NSW winegrowing regions.

23/02/2017: The art of wine storytelling
Stories sell – which is why storytelling is marketing’s hottest new trend. Anyone who’s been to a wine conference lately will certainly have heard the cry go up for the wine trade to ‘tell its stories’. But what is ‘storytelling’, and how can the wine trade do it effectively? New research has uncovered some surprising answers.

23/02/2017: Harvest starts at Terindah Estate
THE phrase ‘fruits of my labour­’ epitomises what harvest is to Tim Byrne. The Terindah Estate winemaker and vineyard manager said harvest was about celebrating­ the connection between­ the land and what it produces. “Globally, harvest is a really important date for the community, but so far in Australia it hasn’t been recognised as much,” Mr Byrne said.

23/02/2017: Clare Riesling: The Penna Finally Drops
Back-label blurbs love to hype the notion of tradition, often where none exists. But for Clare Valley vigneron Peter Treloar and his Penna Lane label, tradition is no idle marketing ploy – it breathes down his neck at every vintage. Francis Treloar, Peter’s direct ancestor, was one of the Clare Valley’s earliest winemakers. The vineyards of Treloar’s Prospect at Watervale were established in 1865 and Francis sold his early wines from the barrel in the Watervale Hotel.

22/02/2017: Penfolds’ legal battle in China
Less than six weeks after Treasury Wine Estates won a landmark legal battle over the Chinese name for Penfolds, it is once again under siege from a local company looking to leverage off its brand. The latest challenge comes from Ben Fu International Trade, which last week listed on the Shanghai Equity Exchange, an over-the-counter stock market. Ben Fu roughly translates as "chasing prosperity" and is the Chinese name, under which Treasury distributes Penfolds, including its prestigious Grange.

22/02/2017: Clare producer strikes gold at China awards
Taylors Wines has taken out a record number of awards for the winery at the 2017 China Wine and Spirits Best Value Awards. This is the fourth year running Taylors has received a trophy at the awards, bringing home the Clare Valley Wine of Year for its 2016 Taylors Estate Chardonnay. The trophy was accompanied by 10 double gold medals and 10 gold medals awarded across the winery’s portfolio.

22/02/2017: Winetitles Media to launch App and digital editions
Australia’s major wine industry publisher Winetitles Media has partnered with PressReader, a world leading digital magazine and newspaper content distributor, and will soon launch complete digital editions of the Australian and New Zealand Grapegrower and Winemaker and Wine and Viticulture Journal. This new service will enable grapegrowers and winemakers to access the journals in a format they are familiar with – via smartphone, tablet or desktop device.

22/02/2017: Stand out like a purple cow
There are a number of reasons why grapegrowers, businesses and people in general want to be part of the brown herd. Basically a herd provides comfort and safety, but the trade-off is that it is difficult to stand out and be noticed when part of a herd. The essential ingredient behind building a meaningful brand is to stand out and be noticed, meaning comfort and safety needs to be risked… so being part of a herd is not the best place to be to establish a successful and lasting brand.

22/02/2017: Beef town could become wine country
Wingham, north of Newcastle in NSW, is well known for being a beef town but within a few months it could also be known as wine country. Wingham’s new vineyard, Jacaranda Estate has just harvested 2.5 tonnes of grapes for a yield of 1300 litres of wine. The fruit was hand basket pressed on site using 100-year-old presses and delivered to wine maker Will Rickard-Bell at Chill Wine Co in Orange. Business owners Mark and Belinda Smith will harvest a total of around eight tonnes this month which will produce more than 7000 bottles.

22/02/2017: #V17 tip #4
#V17 tip #4: Restrict access to your property with fences and gates. #Vinehealth

21/02/2017: Vintage slowly picking up speed
The grape harvest is about three weeks behind schedule this year due to an extended winter that slowed growth last year. While wineries had been receiving grapes for about two weeks, vintage was a whopping 125,000 tonnes behind this time last year, with only 11,000 tonnes picked so far. Bruno Brombal, Riverina Wine Grapes Marketing Board chairman, said “it’s slow ripening, but excellent.” “What comes out the other end will be very good wine, although with a low dollar and strong export market I thought prices might be higher.”

21/02/2017: Yalumba goes on a Grenache crusade
Grenache has been on a slow-burning, upward swing of interest in the last three to five years in Australia, gaining traction among the more savvy restaurants, wine bars and wine merchants around the country. It also coincides with the shift in winemaking that Kevin Glastonbury references — more sensitivity in the expression of each variety and not a one-size-fits-all, bold approach for red wine. This itself, of course, answers a global taste for lighter, fresher yet nevertheless flavoursome wine.

21/02/2017: Can you make Coonawarra sexy?
How do you make a wine region sexy? Or does a wine region need to be ‘sexy’ in the first place? That’s a question I’ve been pondering since a recent trip to Coonawarra – the South Australian wine location which, curiously, seems as fashionable as a politician in a pair of Speedos. Of course, what’s in fashion doesn’t always dictate what sells, and much of Coonawarra’s wines seem to move by themselves. Indeed, Coonawarra’s appeal to full-flavoured red wine loving men is unparalleled.

21/02/2017: Registrations now open for ‘Aussie wine month’
The biggest celebration of Australian wine, Aussie Wine Month, will return this May to showcase the exceptional quality and diversity of wine produced in our own backyard. Aussie Wine Month gives everyone across the country the chance to learn more and get excited about Australian wine, experience new and legendary Australian wines and discover the stories that make them unique. Registrations are now open for restaurants, bars, cellar doors, retail stores and wine brands to take part in the month long celebration by organising an event or promotion that focuses on Australian wine.

21/02/2017: Ambitious ‘Barossa cellar’ project
Conceptual plans for a $4.5 million wine museum to be built on a lush site in Vine Vale were unveiled during a Barons of the Barossa function at the weekend. The ambitious Barossa Cellar project, which would store the region’s most valuable wine collection, has been approved by The Barossa Council with construction hoped to begin later this year. However the project’s success was dependent on the ability to reach an ambitious fundraising target of $3.5 million, after the Barons of Barossa pledged $1 million towards the initiative.

21/02/2017: #V17 tip #3
#V17 tip #3: Provide training for all vineyard staff, including contract and casual labour, on hygiene protocols. #Vinehealth

20/02/2017: Wine expert's $300,000 wine heist
Wine expert Lak Quach was renowned in the hospitality industry for his "exceptional palate" and vast knowledge. He graduated dux at the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial in 2013 and became a reviewer for the prestigious Halliday Wine Companion, considered the Bible of Australian wine. The former sommelier and vintner is under investigation by his employer, Melbourne wholesaler Cellarhand, over claims he stole up to $300,000 worth of wine while working as a specialist buyer.

20/02/2017: Most prized wine grapes on the South Coast
The day of the year the South Coast’s pioneering vigneron always looks forward to happened on Friday when Coolangatta Gold was harvested at Shoalhaven Heads. The Semillon grown at Coolangatta Estate for 20 years now is one of the most awarded wines in Australia. Two blocks of the variety have won more wine show gold than most vineyards could even dream of. But with that comes great pressure. Which is why industry pioneer Greg Bishop and son-in-law Ben Wallis were so relieved to get fine weather to harvest the first block and they hope it holds for the second Semillon pick next week.

20/02/2017: Wine buyers head off the beaten track
Independent wine buyers from Britain toured the State’s wine regions last week as part of the 10-day trip. Organised by Wines of WA, buyers visited boutique vineyards in the Geographe, Margaret River and Southern Forests appellations and were on a tour through Whicher Ridge Wines’ sensory garden when the Times caught up with them. Wines of WA chief executive Larry Jorgensen said Britain was in the top five markets and always had been, and independent buyers — different from major distributors such as supermarket chain Tesco — were what WA producers needed to be looking to.

20/02/2017: Tap a Future Leader on the shoulder
Do you know someone with the potential to be a future leader for the Australian wine community, contributing to its long-term success? Then as a current leader of the sector, we ask you to ‘tap them on the shoulder’ and encourage them to apply for Future Leaders 17, Australian grape and wine’s leadership development program.

20/02/2017: Hot summer days: Top picking
The Hunter Valley Vintage 2017 is all but over with vignerons forecasting it will produce red and white wines of outstanding quality. Robert McLeish, of McLeish Estate, said drier conditions with only minimal rainfall and had given his company high harvest tonnages and superb quality grapes. “The harvest this year is shaping up to be the best one yet,” Mr McLeish said.

17/02/2017: Sustainability requires a united approach
Matt Pooley went looking for a sustainability ‘silver bullet’, but came back with a much better idea of how to do without one. And the key is a common approach and sense of purpose. As the 2013 Wine Australia Nuffield Scholar, the viticulturist for Tasmania’s Pooley Wines spent a year examining sustainability programs in Australia, the United States and New Zealand, assessing the value of environmental assurance to small wine producers, and identifying emerging technologies and practices Australia could and should embrace. He was largely heartened by what he saw and heard.

17/02/2017: SA Riverland: Half way there
It was way back in January of 2010; a discussion paper was tabled for consideration by the Riverland Winegrape Growers Association. The members liked it. They set about spreading the word. The paper was written to encourage thoughtfulness about how the region could pull itself up by the bootstraps. The challenges of markets and climate had taken a toll. Major producers were in ‘withdrawal mode’. Gross margins were increasingly hard to find at all levels. Spirits were low and some had no option but to grab an exit and bail-out before ‘losing the lot’. Things were grim for sure. BUT the region had been down there before. Collectively, the growers and value adders knew that if they could find the energy to pull hard on the bootstraps and to do so in unison they would prevail.

17/02/2017: Vintage 2017: Mia Mia sparkles
Innovation has always been at the heart of Pamela and Norbert Baumgartner’s success. They change their Mia Valley Estate wines and styles every year to suit the way their grapes have performed. “There are no boundaries really — you just have to keep experimenting,” Norbert said. “We like to try alternative things with the grapes we’ve got.” Last year they decided to make the Heathcote wine ­region’s first sparkling Riesling — one of only a few such wines in the country. Using the methode tra­ditionnelle winemaking practice used for Champagne, the wine is hand-made from picking to pressing and bottling.

17/02/2017: True believers in Sagrantino
Trevor March, from Heathvale Wines in the Eden Valley, first came across Sagrantino at a tasting in 1986. It’s a variety that hails from Umbria in central Italy, primarily round the village of Montefalco. Sourcing cuttings from those great champions of ‘appropriate’ grape varieties, the Chalmers family in Merbein, it was 13 years until the first vintage was released in 2010 (due to quarantine restrictions and restriction of only being able to import two vines from Umbria).

17/02/2017: New website for Canberra District wines
There is a new website for information on the 48 wineries and attractions in the Canberra Wine District, packed full of all the information visitors need to visit the regions’ vineyards, restaurants and events. The new site is the initiative of the Canberra District Wine Industry Association, and showcases their members and partners. The site targets visitors to the region from Canberra and further afield and aims to educate, inspire and provide information in a user-friendly format.

16/02/2017: London calling Women in Wine
The Australian Women in Wine Awards will partner with Wine Australia to take the 2017 awards to a new ‘Women in Wine’ event set to be held in London in September. The advisory board of the Australian Women in Wine Awards (AWIWA) has confirmed the partnership will result in an exciting new direction for the awards this year. A tasting event at Australia House London will take place on Tuesday 26 September to demonstrate the quality and diversity of Australian wines made by female winemakers and wine brands owned by women.

16/02/2017: Disaster zone for Swan Valley
Swan Valley grape growers are continuing to count the cost of unseasonal wet weather. As water levels along the Swan River subsided yesterday, growers said the excess moisture could cause the fruit to split and rot, even in cases where crops had not gone under water. Sittella Wines senior winemaker Colby Quirk said they had tried to pick as much fruit as they could before the rain hit but had not been able to save any shiraz grapes. “We've got $100,000-$300,000 worth of fruit that can’t be turned into wine,” he said.

16/02/2017: Is 12-1 Possible?
Two significant and recent developments indicate that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could survive the US withdrawal. First, it was recently reported that in March 2017, the remaining 11 TPP members will meet in Chile to discuss the status of the TPP and the possibility of making minor changes to the text of the agreement to allow it to move forward. Specifically, Article 30.5 could be altered so that the agreement may enter into force without the United States.

16/02/2017: Finding her feet after the storm
When Rachel Steer arrived at Chapel Hill as the viticulturist it was like she entered the industry from a hole in the clouds; coming down from the clam and clear sky right before the storm. “I came into the wine industry when it was really booming and rode the wave right to the bottom… Which wasn’t really the way I planned it,” Steer said. “When I was completing high school the wine industry was really booming. Living in the Adelaide Hills it was easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm.”

16/02/2017: Writing about Australian wines
Although I’m completely aware that what I do for a living isn’t exactly breaking rocks under the sun, there are, indeed, days that can be quite exhausting. The times I find most draining—yet get the least sympathy for (not that I’m looking for any, really)—are when I’m travelling for work. As an example, when I was on a trip with Wine Australia a few weeks back—visiting dozens of wineries and attending many events over nine days—it proved quite challenging.

15/02/2017: Record half-year global profits but Brexit costs
Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) is on its way to exceeding its 2016 full-year profit, having reached 75% of last year’s full-year profit after tax while only half way through the year. In its interim results released this morning, TWE’s chief executive officer Michael Clarke said it was a strong result, with double-digit earnings growth in all geographical markets. For the six months to December 31, the company posted $136.2 million (AUD) net profit after tax for the first half of the financial year, the equivalent of 75% of last year’s full-year profit after tax of $179.4 million.

15/02/2017: Searching for the new Australia
I am halfway into my back-to-the-future tour of Australian wine amidst a constant blast of hits from the 1980s—a decade that still seems to hold Australia in its thrall. Much of the attention for the New Australia focuses on formerly unknown regions like the Adelaide Hills, where you find all the elements of today’s contemporary wine world: nuanced flavors, naturalist winemaking, previously unheralded grapes. But I had thought it important during my recent travels to immerse myself in some of the country’s more established corners for wine.

15/02/2017: Top end wines defy extreme weather
The top end wines from the 2017 vintage in the Hunter Valley in NSW and the Barossa Valley in South Australia are set to be good quality even though companies have had to contend with extreme weather conditions. Bruce Tyrrell, managing director of Tyrrell's Wines in the Hunter Valley, said he expected the 2017 breed of wines from the NSW region to be in the top tier of vintages when drinkers look back through history and compare them with previous years. "I think it will be in the top 20 per cent of vintages," he said. "We're pretty happy with where we are."

15/02/2017: Jack Rabbit Vineyard local bounty
Jack Rabbit Vineyard is set to showcase the Bellarine’s rich and diverse bounty of fresh, local produce by hosting a very special event, The 10K Gourmet, a five course degustation complete with matched wines on Friday, April 7. The event forms part of the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival Regional program for 2017. Every morsel of food - and every drop of wine - will be grown or crafted within 10km of Jack Rabbit Vineyard, located on the picturesque Bellarine.

15/02/2017: Wine exports set record
US exports of wine — the bulk of it from California — set a record in 2016 despite having to fight a strong dollar, subsidies and barriers in other countries and a tight water and labor supply at home, according to the Wine Institute. The $1.62 billion in foreign trade revenue for 2016 bested the previous year’s record of $1.49 billion by a slim margin through steadily strong sales in the top market, the European Union, and sharp growth increases in China and Britain.

15/02/2017: Dry weather, great vintage
SOUTH Burnett wineries are in the middle of vintage and the dry weather has guaranteed a fantastic season for grape-growers. Owner and winemaker at Moffatdale Ridge Winery, Jason Kinsella, said it had been a fantastic season for grapes even though other crops had done poorly with the hot, dry weather. "With the lack of rain, we've been able to keep our fruit hanging there until it's perfect to pick,” Mr Kinsella said.

15/02/2017: Hunter harvest wraps up
As the 2017 Hunter wine harvest this week moves towards a successful end, vignerons have had to contend with an uncommon threat – marauding birds. Drought, torrential rain, hail and mould are the usual things that blight Hunter vintages, but this year flocks of Indian mynas, crows and nectar-loving rainbow lorikeets have forced vineyards to protect their grapes with netting and to deploy bird-scaring gas guns.

14/02/2017: Natural disaster declared over Swan Valley
Perth's wine producing region, the Swan Valley, has been declared a natural disaster zone — along with areas from the Pilbara to the Goldfields-Esperance region — following severe flooding over the weekend. Unprecedented rains and floods caused widespread damage to towns along the Avon River catchment, with some Swan Valley wine producers inundated. Premier Colin Barnett said declaring the area a natural disaster meant funds were available to those in need.

14/02/2017: Barringwood expects to harvest vintage in May
Owners of the award-winning Barringwood Vineyard expect the 2017 vintage to begin to be harvested at the start of May – a month later than last season. However, Lower Barrington vigneron Vanessa Bagot said it meant the grape harvest was back to normal. “Last year all our grapes were off by April 20 – but that was really early,” Mrs Bagot said. “Normally for us it’s the first week of May. We expect it to be around then for this vintage, it is a little slow but this vintage is more normal than last year.”

14/02/2017: Treasury Wine posts record half-year profit
Australia's Treasury Wine Estates Ltd, the world's biggest listed stand-alone wine company, posted a record half-year profit as it catered to China's thirst for mid-range product and benefited from a United States purchase. Net profit for the owner of the Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Rosemount wine labels more than doubled to A$136.2 million ($104.1 million) for the six months to Dec. 31, helped by an earnings contribution from the recently acquired U.S. wine business of Diageo Plc.

14/02/2017: Funding available to help boost trade to China
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources is seeking applications from Australian farm businesses and organisations looking to undertake projects and trade missions to boost the agricultural trading relationship between Australia and China in 2017. Australia’s $12.7 billion two-way agricultural trade relationship with China is set to be further strengthened, with applications now open for funding through the Australia-China Agricultural Cooperation Agreement (ACACA) programme.

14/02/2017: Yellow Tail campaign targets ‘wine snobbery’
Just one week after Casella Family Brands launched its Yellow Tail Super Bowl ad across 85% of the United States, the brand has launched its Australian campaign, focusing similarly on the idea of ‘fun.’ Created by CommonVentures, the new ads feature different household objects such as a BBQ, a chair and a wooden spoon, being described in long sentences using complex adjectives, poking fun at traditional wine brand ads.

14/02/2017: #V17 tip
#3: Provide training for all vineyard staff, including contract and casual labour, on hygiene protocols. #Vinehealth

13/02/2017: Wine industry looking forward to strong vintage
SOUTH Australia’s sweltering heatwave has grape growers thanking the weather gods. The hot, dry weather helped dry out vine canopies and grape bunches, which have suffered from the earlier unusually high rainfall and cooler temperatures. The unseasonal weather has delayed grape harvests across the state by three weeks and provided suitable conditions for disease to flourish. GrowCare plant pathologist Peter Magarey said last week’s scorching temperatures, while painful for most, was “good news” for viticulturists.

13/02/2017: Sustainability requires a united approach
Matt Pooley went looking for a sustainability ‘silver bullet’, but came back with a much better idea of how to do without one. And the key is a common approach and sense of purpose. As the 2013 Wine Australia Nuffield Scholar, the viticulturist for Tasmania’s Pooley Wines spent a year examining sustainability programs in Australia, the United States (US) and New Zealand, assessing the value of environmental assurance to small wine producers, and identifying emerging technologies and practices Australia could and should embrace. He was largely heartened by what he saw and heard.

13/02/2017: How Australian wines breached China
Chinese drinkers are showing an increasing thirst for Australian wines, making them the toast of exporters whose businesses are benefitting from the discerning palates of the country’s growing middle class and a multitude of buying options. Australian wine exports to China grew 51 per cent in the 12 months up to September last year, making Australia the top exporter to China by value and second by volume, after France. China in turn is Australia’s top market, surpassing the United States last year. China’s growing middle class, its varied and increasingly sophisticated market and a wealth of online buying options are driving the growth.

13/02/2017: Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 25
POP the champagne and let them eat cake — the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is turning 25. Restaurateur and MasterChef Australia judge Gary Mehigan is celebrating the milestone, having been involved with the event since its inception in the early ‘90s. “I go back with the festival to about 1993 with the various restaurants I’ve been involved with,” he said. “It’s been interesting to see how it’s snowballed into one of the world’s best food festivals."

13/02/2017: New factsheet helps tackle the scourge of gazanias
Celebrity gardeners aren’t joking when they describe gazanias as hardy plants suited to a range of tough environments. Unfortunately, that’s not such good news when you’re trying to get rid of them. Gazanias have become such a problem to some grapegrowers in the Riverland that the Riverland Wine Viticulture Technical Group (RWVTG) organised a comprehensive two-year trial to work out how best to eradicate them.‘They are virtually indestructible and don’t need any water so they are either a great plant or an awful weed’, said Riverland Wine’s Chris Bennett.

10/02/2017: Future Leaders 2017 applications now open
Applications for the Future Leaders 2017 program are open till early March, to members of the grape and wine community who are early to mid-career and demonstrating leadership potential. Funded by the sector and coordinated by Wine Australia, Future Leaders is a unique leadership program that’s been specifically designed for the needs of the Australian grape and wine sector. The program is an opportunity to bring together emerging leaders from the sector right along the value chain and help them develop the skills to work collaboratively and creatively toward a common goal for long-term prosperity.

10/02/2017: How will we impress the World's 50 Best judges?
Wine Australia, Official Wine Partner of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, will also invite 50 of the best sommeliers in the world to discover Australia’s wine offering in April. The group will include sommeliers from The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the Best Sommelier in the World competition and top sommeliers in New Zealand and Australia. Wine Australia has also selected a panel of renowned Australian wine experts to choose the wines being served across the official program of events.

10/02/2017: Compelling evidence
The new Loxton Research Centre (LRC) adds another volume of compelling evidence of the power of the Riverland and Mallee community when shoulders are put to the wheel and the gifts of imagination, energy and passion are combined with attitudes of open mindedness, co-operation and ‘can do’. The vision began more than seven years ago in 2009 when it was blindingly obvious the old LRC had run its race. It had run out of puff. Research activities and scientists had been syphoned off as programs and projects were consolidated and absorbed into larger research institutions including AWRI, CSIRO and universities around the nation where true ‘Centre of Excellence’ could be established and strengthened.

10/02/2017: Australia Day Tasting in UK
With more exhibitors, new wineries, product launches and a new venue in London, the 2017 Australia Day Tastings (ADT) in the UK and Ireland had some of the region’s most influential wine professionals heralding the quality and finesse of Australian fine wine. Almost 1200 people attended the event series that took place in London (B1 Victoria House), Dublin (Royal Hibernian Academy) and Edinburgh (Balmoral Hotel). There were 58 wineries exhibiting at the ADT for the first time among the 230 that participated this year.

10/02/2017: Life lines: Wine, women and work
I’m writing this column with a glass of wine beside me. That means I’m one of the millennial women who are drinking more, a fact that has spurred countless articles. I’ve seen friends sharing and commenting on stories about how women are drinking to cope with stress, how frightening these numbers are. These numbers came from a study done by the University of New South Wales in Australia and Columbia University. The results, which ran in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, plotted the drinking habits of men and women, separated into different age blocks, from the turn of the century through 2000.

9/02/2017: Scorching weather helps manage disease
A typical Riverland summer is dry and often scorching hot. But until now, the region has been experiencing more tropical conditions thanks to South Australia's wetter and cooler than average summer. The unseasonable weather has pushed the wine grape harvest back by about two weeks, and in some areas has allowed diseases to flourish. Cooltong wine grape grower Jack Papageorgiou said it had been one of the most unusual seasons he had seen in his 44 years in the industry. "Every year in the industry is different — this is very different," he said.

9/02/2017: Hot summer could hurt ACT wine region vintage
Canberra's winemakers are hoping for an end to summer's extended hot streak, warning it could lead to a poor vintage. While last year's wet winter and late spring paved the way for a tasty vintage, this could be undone by a hot or humid summer. John Leyshon of the Canberra District Wine Association said too much hot weather could make the grapes taste more bitter. "The problem with the heat is that the vines just shut down anything over 27-28 degrees and the vines just stop working so you're not going to get your grapes ripening," Mr Leyshon said.

9/02/2017: Australia’s new philosophy of freshness
A new generation of Australian winemakers are turning their backs on the big, beefy styles that made the country’s reputation, preferring to make lighter, fruitier expressions in response to demand from restaurants and consumers. It’s mid afternoon on a crisp spring day in Adelaide. As if teasing us, the sun flits in an out of the clouds, forcing us into a comical routine – our jumpers come off and sunglasses go on when the sun comes out, and vice versa when it disappears behind the clouds again. We’re sitting outside a church that has been converted into a wood-fired pizza restaurant called Lost in a Forest.

9/02/2017: Meet Contentious Character
It's the sort of statement that's often bantered about amongst friends, particularly after a few glasses vino. As you swirl your shiraz around the glass, you announce, "one day, I'd love to buy a vineyard", to murmurs of agreement around the table. It's a dream that has become a reality for Tony Mansfield, Ben Jarrett, Jeremy Wilson and Ross Appleton who have bought the previous Lambert Vineyards at Wamboin. While the four have a keen interest in food and wine, none have a specific wine background - Mansfield's background is advertising and marketing, Appleton's is operations and finance, Wilson's is retail operations and Jarrett's is in sales.

9/02/2017: The wonder from down under
Universally delicious Australian wines made a surprising splash at the International Pinot Noir Celebration. When we think of Australian wine, our thoughts immediately drift toward big, bold, ripe shiraz, the style of syrah that made winemakers Down Under both famous and ubiquitous among American and European wine drinkers. In fact, Australia’s laser focus on shiraz has helped raise it to No. 8 amid the top wine-producing nations in the world. So imagine my surprise when Australia was the featured nation at last summer’s International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Ore.

9/02/2017: Biosecurity tips for #V17
#V17 tip #2: Make sure you understand the regulations and documentation required for the movement of grapes, must, unfiltered juice, marc, machinery, equipment, diagnostic samples, soil, grapevine cuttings, rootlings and potted vines, within and between states. #Vinehealth

8/02/2017: Chinese taste for Valley wines
The Hunter Valley exported 407,000 litres of wine worth $A3.62million in 2016 and 231,000 litres of it, worth $A1.72million, was sold to China. These Wine Australia Export Report figures mirror last year’s total Australian wine exports to China that rose 40 per cent to a record value of $A520million. China accounted for 23 per cent of the value of Australian wine exports, the US 21 per cent and Britain 21 per cent, but the UK topped the volume of exports with 31 per cent followed by the US (21 per cent) and China (13 per cent).

8/02/2017: Man dead at Barossa wine packing centre
A man has died at a wine packing centre in South Australia's Barossa Valley during an arrest on Tuesday night. Patrols were called to an area on Breakneck Hill Road, Penrice, about 10pm after reports of property damage at winemaking facility Vinpac International. A 35-year-old Barossa Valley man was found in the Angaston area where he was arrested. "After the man was arrested he suffered a medical episode and subsequently died," police said in a statement. Police officers are at the scene investigating the incident this morning.

8/02/2017: Unexpected 'sensory thunderbolt' French wine
It seems nothing will stand in the way of a producer looking for the best wine to complement his food. For oyster grower Steve Feletti that has meant introducing a new grape variety to Australian soil. He described bottling the first of his piquepoul blanc as a "bit of a very personal milestone" after an eight-year quest to first procure the vines from France and finally convince a winery to emulate the glass he first tried at a fish market. "It's been a fantastic journey," the Moonlight Flats Oysters owner said.

8/02/2017: Old Noarlunga barn into a boutique winery
WINEMAKER Alan Varney is looking to make his business mark with an Old Noarlunga barn he’s been eyeing off for years. Mr Varney, 36, has driven past the old barn at 62 Victor Harbor Rd twice a day on his travel to d’Arenberg Winery. “I’ve always had a look at it and to me it is the gateway to McLaren Vale,” Mr Varney said. “You catch the first glimpse of the grapevines on the horizon and you sort of feel like you are leaving it behind and entering the rural McLaren Vale scene.” Under plans lodged to Onkaparinga Council, Mr Varney wants to convert the 1870s barn into a “boutique” winery, kitchen, brewery and cellar door called Victor’s Place.

8/02/2017: 2017 Top Italian wines roadshow by Gambero Rosso
Now celebrating 30 years of success, Gambero Rosso’s best-known tour, the Top Italian Wines Roadshow, is in its tenth edition. Over 60 wineries come together annually bringing knowledge of Italy’s unmatchable grape patrimony to new generations of consumers. From 2007 (the year of the tours first edition) to 2015, exports of Italian wine have grown from 3.45 to 5.4 billion euros. The Sydney event is the last on the Asian tour, which includes Taipei, Osaka, Cape Town, Hanoi and Singapore.

7/02/2017: Premium wines drives resurgence in North America
SALES of premium wines from Down Under are heading north as American drinkers discover there is more to the Australian story than kangaroos peddling Yellow Tail. Australian wine exports to the United States increased 3 percent in 2016, to AU$458 million. This was led by premium wines as exports above AU$10 per liter FOB grew by 23 per cent, to AU$41 million and the number of individual wines retailing at more than US$12 per bottle increased by 59 percent. It is a similar story in Canada, with exports of premium Australian wines (A$10 and above FOB) growing 9 per cent to C$26 million in 2016.

7/02/2017: Yellow Tail's Super Bowl ad 'humiliates' Australia
Thirty-second spot features an oddly muscular kangaroo, a ‘fun’ guy in a yellow suit and Ellie Gonsalves in a white bikini. The wine brand Yellow Tail has been accused of embarrassing Australia on the international stage with its Super Bowl advertisement featuring a woman in a bikini and a kangaroo in an apron. The Australian company’s 30-second spot in the first half of the Super Bowl introduced an estimated audience of 120 million viewers to a muscular, wine-slugging kangaroo: “If you see a roo at a party, it’s a good party.”

7/02/2017: Vintage looms in ironstone country
Yangarra's Ironheart Vineyard Shiraz (which grows just across Philip White's front fence in the McLaren Vale region) is well into veraison, or colouring, and looking very healthy, in spite of the warm, wet and humid summer. These biodynamic/organic vines have been hand-plucked three times this season to remove extraneous leaf so the bunches get dappled light and plenty of breeze. This breeze dries the bunches and bark during humid spells, so reducing the requirement for fungicide spray.

7/02/2017: Shottesbrooke Vineyards eyes expansion
McLaren Vale winery, Shottesbrooke Vineyards, is expanding its east coast footprint after signing a distribution partnership with The Wine Company (TWC). A second-generation wine business, Shottesbrooke boasts an extensive portfolio of wines produced from McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. The company also owns a state-of-the-art winery complex which has recently undergone a major transformation. Speaking of the new partnership, Shottesbrooke General Manager and Winemaker, Hamish Maguire, said that the company had been seeking a strong distribution partner on the east coast for some time, and had approached TWC with this goal in mind.

7/02/2017: Alice Baker discovers winemaking
In a well worn pair of Birkenstocks, Alice Baker divides her time between growing cactus, cooking, and creating boutique wines. Her and partner Tom Davidson live on a 1.6 hectare block in Robe, on the edge of the Southern Ocean in South Australia, so naturally they spend a bit of time at the beach too. A weathered, multi-coloured stage adorns the hill in their front paddock where chooks scratch through crunchy grass and veggies grow in abundance. After studying a graduate diploma of oenology and viticulture, Ms Baker discovered the charm of winemaking.

6/02/2017: Tasmania now Australia’s top wine tourism region
Tasmania has long been the butt of jokes from the ‘mainlanders’, as Tasmanians refer to other Australians, but this rugged little island that started out as a prominent penal colony is fast becoming Australia’s premier wine tourism region. This has come about thanks to outstanding wines that keep getting better and better, enchanting cellar doors, stunning scenery, excellent hotels and restaurants, as well as a fine road network and zero pollution. Throw in one of the most interesting museums in the southern hemisphere in MONA, as well as Australia’s top golf links course in Barnbougle, and you have all the ingredients for a memorable visit.

6/02/2017: AnalogFolk run digital promotion of Jacobs Creek
Digital creative agency AnalogFolk Australia has been contracted by Pernod Ricard Winemakers to take control of the global digital development of Jacob’s Creek wines. The portfolio will include the brand Jacob's Creek itself, as well as other wine brands available worldwide. “AnalogFolk already has strong credentials with other global brands in the Pernod Ricard portfolio, and will work towards our goal of a data-driven, consumer-first approach to marketing,” commented Kate Whitney, global digital director of Pernod Ricard Winemakers.

6/02/2017: SA winemaker opens door to Moroccan market
Coonawarra winemaker Gavin Hogg and his business partners have established a warehouse in Morocco and are working with two local distributors before sending the first shipment in March. Hogg said the Hoggies Estate Wines shipment would be a range of wines from his three brands – Kopparossa, Hoggies and Olivia. He said he and his colleagues had invested a lot of time and effort to procure a licence to import alcohol into Morocco. “The first lot will be a container, which is 1000 cases, and that will be mixed. It’ll be a bit of a scattergun approach to show everyone what’s there and then see how the market responds,” Hogg said.

6/02/2017: San Miguel buys Australian packaging firm
San Miguel Corp. said its international packaging business, San Miguel Yamamura Packaging International Ltd., acquired all of the shares of Australian firm Portavin Holdings Pty. Ltd. Portavin is located in four key regions in Australia—New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia—and is involved in the bottling of wine, trading and distribution of packaging products. Last year, in line with its packaging arm’s bullish stance on the Australian and New Zealand markets, the San Miguel’s packaging group acquired the assets of Endeavour Glass Packaging Ltd.

6/02/2017: Aussie Wines, Culture and Yoghurt
A bit like the old Irish gags which were equally as racist, they will die out and the wine area will have made a significant contribution to the sophisticisation of Australia. Fifty years ago the idea that wine of any sort of elevated level came from Australia was laughable. One of the biggest importers of Australian, wines at the time, would have been Yates Wine Lodges, renowned in my northern home town for the pre-modern cocktail of Yates Blob (Yates sweet Australian wine, brandy, sugar lemon and hot water). It was as sophisticated as an Australian’s (or Boltonian’s) night out!

International Wine Industry News

24/02/2017: A new logistics facility in Port Nelson
PORT Nelson has a brand new 13,000-square-metre storage facility, the first major project of a $32m logistics redevelopment plan. The Patterson Logistics Centre is to serve as the hub of QuayConnect, the port’s Nelson-Marlborough integrated warehousing, transport and logistics service. Port Nelson CEO Martin Byrne said the new facility would increase the service’s capacity by 40%. “We efficiently move substantial freight between Nelson and Marlborough and manage 80% of the South Island’s wine exports and 90% of the inbound dry goods,” he said.

24/02/2017: Bringing Brancott home
Brancott Estate has launched a new look, paying homage to its brand home and coinciding with the release of their 2016 vintage wines. The new identity depicts Brancott Vineyard, site of the first Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Marlborough and the home of Brancott Estate Wines. It has been incorporated across all of the Brancott Estate ranges, uniting the entire portfolio under a brand icon designed to create an emotional connection with consumers and build Brancott Estate as an iconic New Zealand brand globally.

24/02/2017: On-trade drives real new growth for bulk wine
It is fair to say that the enormous growth and importance in bulk wine and bottling in buyers’ markets has come on the back of the power and clout of the major supermarkets. It has been their demand for wines to produce their own labels and exclusive brands that has helped drive the demand for the huge volumes of wine now being shipped ever day around the world. Just the amount of wine needed to feed their needs every month or quarter is enough for many wine producers and bulk wine brokers to make a healthy living.

24/02/2017: Ancient grape meets modern family
Covenant Winery’s Jeff and Jodie Morgan are producing kosher wine in Napa and Sonoma as well as in Israel’s Golan Heights and Galilee. The Morgans, along with their partner, Leslie Rudd, have been making Covenant wines in Northern California since 2003. "We realised, as we travelled through the Galilee and the Golan Heights, that the topography closely resembled what we know in California,” Jeff Morgan said. “It looked a lot like Napa Valley and Sonoma. And we thought, wow, maybe we could make wine in Israel, too. That was the beginning of the idea.”

24/02/2017: Cava sales fizzing in Japan
According to the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX) Japan is currently the fifth-leading consumer of cava and is the leader in Asia in terms of consumption, 7.8 million bottles were exported to Japan in 2016 – an increase of 15% from 2015. “Asia is one of the strongest global markets for cava overall,” said Roman Linert who heads up Codorniu Raventos group for Asia and is based in Singapore. “But Japan has been one of our oldest markets for Codorniu.”

24/02/2017: Thirsty vineyards revel in California rain
California's five-year drought has ended with a thundering vengeance. After two months of intermittent heavy rain, rivers are pouring over their banks onto expressways, dams are near bursting, and vacationers in one flood-stranded area of Big Sur are being evacuated by helicopter. What does it mean for wine? It's too soon to tell about quality. But this year, and even more likely in 2018, California should flood the world market with its biggest wine crops ever.

23/02/2017: Earthquake-damage shouldn’t impact vintage
With harvest less than a month away, wine companies in Marlborough are confident they have enough storage space to handle an influx of fruit. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake last November damaged tanks amounting to about 20 per cent of the total storage capacity in the region. Since the disaster, wine companies have been working with insurers and engineers to repair or replace their tanks to make sure they can handle harvest.

23/02/2017: Taste dependent on site of vineyard
There are a large number of factors that affect the way a wine tastes and the particular site, or vineyard, is high among them, reviewer Mark Henderson writes. On a macro-climate level are things such as the number of growing season daylight hours and sunshine hours a year, the average temperature, the diurnal temperature range, average rainfall and when it falls, prevailing wind and more.

23/02/2017: Raising a glass to top shelf cellar door skills
A new training assessment designed to recognise and reward high standards of customer service at New Zealand’s vineyard cellar doors will be welcomed by wineries around the country. ServiceIQ has introduced a new unit standard dedicated to cellar door sales expertise, as part of its NZ Certificate in Tourism (Visitor Experience) Level 3. The qualification can be completed on the job by staff taking care of customers at any vineyard cellar door in the country.

23/02/2017: Hot new wines out of Napa are white
Chances are, when you think of Napa Valley, you think of red wine. Well, get ready to be surprised. In this classic Cabernet territory, dozens of top-end wineries are focusing the same kind of every-detail-matters approach to whites that they’ve long lavished on their more prestigious reds.

23/02/2017: What's the big deal about high-elevation?
Unwittingly perhaps, certain wine regions, countries and even individual winemakers have developed a "mine's higher than yours" attitude when discussing vineyards' height above sea level. Wine publicists and geeks alike are lapping it up. So, it's important to go beyond the hype and find out what real high-altitude wine is.

23/02/2017: Social media’s disappointing numbers game
The fundamental question is often the one not asked very often: how much of an effect does social media have on the health of a brand? Having analysed a number of leading brands, it seems that the missing link is an honest discussion about reach and impact. In other words, how influential can a social media post, or “follow”, actually be?

23/02/2017: Wine business credit needs swell
Capitalising on growing thirst nationwide for the higher-end wine the North Coast is known for is intensifying demand for sources of capital, according to longtime local lenders. The Business Journal interviewed lending experts about the impact of growing consumer demand for wines over $15 a bottle is having on the capital needs to produce it in the North Coast.

22/02/2017: Young Viti Leadership Week kicks off
Every two years, the previous winners of the Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year competition embark on an amazing week meeting some of New Zealand’s top wine industry leaders as well as those from other industry sectors. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn from pioneers, CEO’s, Board members and this year also from a highly-acclaimed conductor.

22/02/2017: Vineyard accredited as butterfly paradise
Staff at a Marlborough winery are all a flutter after it became the first official butterfly friendly company in the country. Yealands Family Wines has been formally recognised by the Moths and Butterflies Trust of New Zealand for their efforts to protect the colourful insects. Over the last few years, gardeners at the company's Seaview Vineyard in Marlborough have created a haven known as Butterfly Gully. Complete with 200 swan plants to attract Monarch butterflies, the sunny gully also features stinging nettle plants which are to home caterpillars destined to become Admiral butterflies.

22/02/2017: Myth busted: Low yield wines aren’t always better
Wine is like art: Opinions on what is best abound, and are often entirely (or almost entirely) subjective. Like Breitbart versus The New York Times, or Duck Dynasty versus Modern Family, beliefs about wine depend largely on where you live, who you talk to, and what you taste. One of the most popular ideas in wine is that low-yielding vines — those that produce a tiny amount of grapes instead of a bumper crop — make better wines. For centuries, this myth has slowly permeated the industry, infiltrating tasting rooms and Wine Spectator, and even wine labels.

22/02/2017: UC Davis to sell wine made by students
California’s top winemaking school has previously been legally constrained to dispose of huge amounts of wine made from top Napa Valley vineyards. But the recent implementation of the Senate Bill 683 law late last year means that the students’ finished product can now be to be sold to local producers, and served by the bottle at special occasions. As the university sources grapes from key Napa Valley vineyards in Oakville, many of the bottles are expected to sell for $80 to $100 each.

22/02/2017: Winemakers to celebrate International Women's Day
International Women's Day has been celebrated worldwide since 1909 with a focus on working women's achievements and issues. Santa Barbara County has a higher percentage of winemakers who are female than just about any other winemaking region. The work is physically strenuous, and requires keen sensory skills, a knowledge of chemistry and salesmanship skills. More than a dozen wineries with female winemakers are participating in the dinner.

22/02/2017: Winery owner urges long-term thinking
Steve Ledson, an ambitious developer and fifth-generation winemaker, has long proposed to build a new winery on family property off Highway 12 on Frey Road. He sees himself as both a protector of Sonoma Valley’s culture and history and as a visionary influence on its future. “I drive down the highway and some of the recent projects that have been built don’t look like the Sonoma Valley that I’m used to. They’re not in keeping with our heritage.”

21/02/2017: Contractors face Employment Relations Authority
Three vineyard contractors are being taken to the Employment Relations Authority after breaching minimum employment standards. An investigation described as a wake-up-call for the Marlborough wine industry has resulted in a slew of enforcement actions against vineyard contractors. The joint investigation by the Labour Inspectorate, Immigration New Zealand and Inland Revenue involved random visits to 10 independent contractors last July.

21/02/2017: Winegrowers report on sustainability
New Zealand Winegrowers has released the first ever report on the wine sector's achievements in sustainability. The report presents data collected from vineyard and winery members of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand - one of the first and world-leading sustainability programmes in the international wine sector. The Sustainability Report highlights actions undertaken by the wine industry such as enhancing biodiversity, reducing and recycling by-products, optimising water and energy use, investing in people, protecting soil, and reducing agrichemical use.

21/02/2017: How do you spot a hipster wine?
What do I mean by hipster wine? How would you spot one? Well I don’t just mean wine made by hipsters, although many of the wines in the burgeoning genre I’m trying to define are made by men and women in their 20s and 30s who fit the stereotype: beards, plaid shirts, social media smarts and ease with the words “authentic” and “artisanal”.

21/02/2017: Traditional Bordeaux labels get a makeover
Traditional wine labels from the Bordeaux region of France are changing, slowly. Inspect a half-dozen labels: many include an image—drawn or photographed—of a stately country manor, often with vines planted out front. These less than exciting and hardly eye-catching images focus on the château (plural: châteaux)—the residence associated with a vineyard.

21/02/2017: Karma Vista winery adopts drone technology
Karma Vista Winery is utilising Great Lakes Drone Company to provide aerial data management and consultation for the 2017 growing season. Joe Herman, owner of Karma Vista Winery is excited about how this technology can redefine how they manage their fields this year. The data collected by regular drone overflights will provide them with real-time data to make cost effective decisions in vineyard health, disease & nutrient management and overall variable harvest decisions.

21/02/2017: The Grapevine: Petit Verdot in Virginia
Not long ago, this grape barely registered on the Virginia winemaking radar. Now, Petit Verdot is one of the state’s stalwarts and has an interesting history. Background: Petit Verdot is considered one of the classic grapes of the Bordeaux region of France, and winemakers around the world primarily use it for blending with other grapes. But in Virginia, it’s more than that: Petit Verdot's popularity has grown as a stand-alone varietal (a wine that has at least 75 percent of a particular grape in it). In fact, many connoisseurs consider Petit Verdot to be the state’s red wine grape.

20/02/2017: Flames stop just 50 metres from vineyard
Alessandro and Wilma Laryn expected to find their vineyard burned to the ground. Instead, they found "a piece of paradise". Surrounded by blackened hills, some just 50 metres away, their livelihood was intact. The couple's business, Cracroft Chase Vineyard, is on the northern edge of where wild fire ripped through Christchurch's Port Hills last week. The Laryns left their property on Wednesday night, fearing the worst.

20/02/2017: Blenheim residents oppose vineyard accommodation
A proposal to build worker accommodation on a suburban street in Blenheim has outraged residents, who have started a petition to stop it going ahead. More than 60 people on Warwick St and the surrounding area have signed the petition, arguing the development would be disruptive and devalue their property prices. However, Grapeworx Marlborough owner Mack Pouwhare said the nine self-contained houses he wanted to build on the section would improve the look of the street.

20/02/2017: Bordeaux 2016: Largest harvest since 2006
2016 was the biggest Bordeaux harvest in more a decade, according to official figures. The production of 577.2 million litres – the equivalent of a staggering 770 million bottles – was the largest since 2006, when there was 10% more vineyard area. Strong harvest figures for Bordeaux are, of course, in stark contrast to many less fortunate regions across France in 2016. It’s the third good Bordeaux vintage in a row. Red wine accounted for 85% of production in 2016, plus 4% rosé, 10% dry white and 1% sweet white.

20/02/2017: Revealed: Countries that quaff the most wine
February 18 was 'National Drink Wine Day' in America. But there are some nationalities which don't need a national day to encourage the enjoyment of a glass of wine. So which country takes the crown? Andorra. According to the Wine Institute, the country consumed 3,936,000 litres of wine in 2014 (the most recent year for which comprehensive statistics are available). Given that just 69,165 people call the Pyrenean principality home, according to the UN, that's 56.9 litres per head. Or the equivalent of 76 bottles.

20/02/2017: Central Illinois vineyard inspires new winemakers
For nearly two decades, Mackinaw Valley Vineyards in Tazewell County has been helping transform how people look at wine produced in Illinois. For vineyard founder Diane Hahn and her late husband Paul, it has always been about finding a unique approach to agriculture in the Land of Lincoln. “I think that's one thing especially that young people are looking for a career, there is a lot of diversity in agriculture. Our business is a very good example of that, we grow grapes here, we make wine here from on premise," said Diane Hahn.

20/02/2017: Costco wine buyer talks shelf strategy
How does one get their wine sold at Costco? It was the question on the minds of those in the audience at the recent Wine Conversations event in Santa Rosa, and one the general merchandise manager of Costco’s beverage alcohol division, Annette Alvarez-Peters, diplomatically answered for the crowd of mostly winemakers and other winery employees. Alvarez-Peters prefaced her remarks by saying that there are now more than 9,000 wineries in the United States (see “North America Winery Count is Now 9,872”), and the typical Costco location only carries about 235 SKUs, which also includes beer and spirits in places where regulations allow all three to be sold in the same location.

17/02/2017: Mealybugs and under vine management
Mealybugs have quickly become the bane of grape growers throughout much of New Zealand. The ability of this insect group to transmit leafroll virus from one vine to another has resulted in a large number of vines having to be removed due to this non-curable infection. Within New Zealand Winegrowers’ Vineyard Ecosystems Program, scientists are determined to discover if ground cover plants can help to reduce the adverse economic influence of grapevine leafroll virus.

17/02/2017: NZ explores ‘acoustic’ style of Sauvignon
An increasing number of winemakers experimenting with oak, bottle age and wild ferments, bringing another layer to the region’s offer, evolving away from the one-dimensional model of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. “People are starting to play with bottle ferment and extended lees contact. You like to keep the wines in tank and in bottle for an extended period of time. Some people play with wild ferment,” said Jean-Charles Van Hove, of Clos Marguerite in Marlborough. "We are getting much more interesting Sauvignon now than we had 20 years ago by far, but the undertone is always Marlborough Sauvignon, you can’t miss it.”

17/02/2017: Does South Africa have a signature red grape?
It might not have been that clear cut 20 years ago but Chenin Blanc is now pretty much established as South Africa’s signature white grape. When it comes to the signature red variety, matters are more complicated. For a long while, there was a certain faction that argued vociferously that it should be Pinotage... but most view it as regional curiosity rather than the single key to unlocking global markets. This might seem to leave Cabernet Sauvignon pitted against Shiraz.

17/02/2017: Swartland wine producers lose battle to stop sandmining
Swartland wine producers appear to have lost their legal battle to stop sandmining in Paardeberg, a move which Eben Sadie says threatens to undermine 20 years’ worth of work to establish Swartland as a prized winemaking region. Sadie, who is widely credited with having put the Swartland region on the wine map, and whose Sadie Family Wines business is based in Paardeberg, said he was “gobsmacked” at the Swartland Municipality’s decision to grant two new licences for sandmining operations.

17/02/2017: Napa County delays proposed Calistoga winery
Transforming a rural Napa Valley property with such features as warehouses and a former PG&E equipment yard into a hoped-for wine country gem is proving difficult. The proposed Flynnville winery south of Calistoga has drastically changed since a 2013 version that one critic called an “industrialisation of the ag preserve”. However, the Napa County Planning Commission voted unanimously to postpone the matter until April 5 to allow the applicant to make further refinements.

17/02/2017: High tunnels extend vineyard growing season
Mari Vineyards typically begins setting up the high tunnels over its vines in late April, as soon as vineyard manager Sean Noell thinks the last “really cold night” has passed. With the heavy plastic sheeting of the sidewalls extended fully to the ground, and the end doors open, the high-tunnel temperature can be 20 degrees warmer than the outdoor temperature. The tunnel plastic stays up until about the beginning of November and is then removed so the vines can go into hibernation.

16/02/2017: Pinot Searches Hit All-Time High
While France dominates the search numbers, interest in New World Pinot Noir is showing healthy growth. Interest in Pinot Noir is at an all-time high, according to a presentation made by Wine-Searcher's David Allen MW at the Pinot Noir NZ conference in Wellington, New Zealand, this month. In 2016, more than 13 million searches were made for wines produced from Pinot Noir on Wine-Searcher, from Richebourg to Santa Barbara to Central Otago. The vast majority of these searches – around 71 percent – were for wines from France, and overwhelmingly for wines from Burgundy.

16/02/2017: Tourism map leaves out Gisborne
A Gisborne man has been left asking why this region has missed out “again” after the city, the East Coast and the entire eastern corner of the island were left off a wall map erected at a hostel at Christchurch Airport. During a sales trip to Christchurch, earlier this week, Wright’s Winery grower Geoff Wright saw a wall map, described as “at least 10 feet tall” in the shared common room of the Jucysnooze backpackers hostel. “Gisborne is a significant historical site as the first landing site for Captain Cook, Europeans, the chardonnay capital of New Zealand, best surfing beaches and it feeds New Zealanders from our fertile soil.”

16/02/2017: Why tempranillo is star grape of Spain
This is one of those big-fish-in-a-big-pond situations. The pond is Spain, the place with more vineyard acreage than any other country on earth, and the fish is tempranillo, Spain's big red grape variety. It's actually not Spain's most widely planted wine grape; that honor belongs to the white grape variety airen. But as anglers and wine buffs know, big ponds often have more than one kind of big fish, and all big fishes are not equally rewarding to catch.

16/02/2017: Wineries to take demise of TPP in stride
After the United States' withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the trade boons is was expected to bring for Oregon wine, the owners of local wineries are saying 'c'est la vie' and do not expect much of an impact. While some said it was short-sighted, at least from an agricultural standpoint, to pull out of the deal, which would have removed obstacles and duties on wines heading to important importers like Canada and Japan, they plan to forge on without it as they have been. "Oregon makes the best pinot noir in the new world, by far," asserted Alex Sokol Blosser, winemaker and co-president of Sokol Blosser Winery in the Dundee Hills.

16/02/2017: California Wine Exports Reach $1.62 Billion
U.S. wine exports, 90% from California, reached $1.62 billion in winery revenues in 2016, a new record. Despite challenges from a strong dollar, winery revenues were up 1% from 2015. Volume was 412.7 million liters or 45.9 million cases. "California wine exports continue to reflect the trend toward premiumization with the dollar value of our wine sales outpacing volume shipments. California wines are well positioned for this trend—our vintners are offering quality, value, diverse styles and environmental stewardship in their winemaking.

16/02/2017: JC winery to sell country's only hemp-infused wine
During a trip to the Netherlands in the mid '90s, Binghamton resident James Castetter met a Dutchman in a cafe who talked about hemp-infused wine that he created. Interested in the idea, Castetter reproduced the same beverage when he came back home and sold it. Later, new laws would prohibit the sale of hemp-infused alcohol, creating a real buzzkill. Now, as views toward hemp have changed, his son, Kaelan Castetter, a student at Binghamton University, persuaded him to team up with him to run another hemp-infused wine venture. Together, they operate Innovative Bottling Inc., a winery at 116 Brown St., Johnson City that produces their wine: Sovereign Vines.

15/02/2017: Sam Neil: Living on the edge is terrifying
Majestic and picturesque with glacial-blue lakes and snow-capped mountains, it is one of the most visually alluring but viticulturally challenging regions in the world. Its semi-continental climate, with short, hot summers, make grape growing a perilous but rewarding endeavour, with winemakers frequently battling unpredictable snowfall, frost and sweeping temperatures. So extreme is its climate that a government report in the 60s concluded that it wouldn’t ever be possible to grow grapes on New Zealand’s south Island, let alone in Central Otago.

15/02/2017: Marlborough mayor welcomes sister city students
The first students to visit Marlborough from the region's sister city in China have been personally welcomed by the mayor. John Leggett wore his chain of office as he welcomed eight students from high schools in the north-central province of Ningxia?. Each student was gifted a piece of Pounamu, or greenstone, to take home with them. Welcoming the group to council chambers, Leggett said he hoped to visit the province later this year.

15/02/2017: What’s in a name?
The old art of winemaking is drawing celebrities who want to add some prestige to their self-branding. Even Queen Elizabeth is getting involved, producing a new bubbly from southern England. One of the original and best-known celebrity winemakers is Francis Ford Coppola, idolised by many as the director of the Godfather film series. In 1975, he set up one of the now iconic estates in California, Rubicon, famed for their Cabernet Sauvignon production. Coppola’s bottles are highly sought after in wine shops and restaurant wine lists alike, retailing on the Irish stage at around €150.

15/02/2017: Chinese wine pioneer, Gérard Colin, dies
Gérard Colin studied oenology at the University of Bordeaux and worked for both Château Teyssier in St-Émilion and Château Clarke in Listrac, before becoming a consultant and winemaker. During his first visit to China in the early 1990s he met CK Chan, the owner of Grace Vineyards, in the Shanxi province. Colin went on to be appointed as the consultant of Grace Vineyards in 2001 where he shared his wine knowledge and experience from time in Bordeaux.

15/02/2017: Boycotting Trump wine
A number of big-name brands, from Uber to Under Armour, Nordstrom to Neiman Marcus, have been the subject of politically charged boycotts in recent weeks. Now another company is finding itself in the crosshairs of consumers hoping to avoid Trump products as they take issue with the president's policies and divisive rhetoric: Wegmans. The regional supermarket chain with a cult following is facing calls to remove Trump Winery products from its 10 Virginia stores. Over the weekend, about 300 members of the Prince William County chapter of the National Organization for Women made plans to pressure Wegmans to stop carrying products from the Albemarle County winery.

15/02/2017: What makes celebrities jump into winemaking?
Floating a winery takes a lot of money, so it’s no wonder that celebrities and other famous people are writing some of those checks. The two more intriguing questions are, why are they writing them to wineries, and why are they, for the most part, the most visible of famous people — the actors, musicians and athletes of the world?

14/02/2017: Kiwi wineries risk with 'wine of Australia'
The Commerce Commission says New Zealand wineries putting cheap Australian wine in their bottles and selling it as theirs may not be covered legally by putting "wine of Australia" in small print on the back of the bottle. Fair Go reported more and more iconic Kiwi brands are filling their bottles with what the programme called "cheap Aussie plonk". The programme said the law is really clear on labeling, with the Fair Trading Act stating it's illegal to mislead customers.

14/02/2017: Wairarapa rebrands as Wellington wine country
Winemakers in New Zealand’s Wairarapa Valley, which includes the boutique Pinot Noir heartland of Martinborough, have collectively rebranded as Wellington Wine Country in an effort to better communicate the region and its wines. Located on the north island, east of Wellington, the Wairarapa Valley comprises the Martinborough GI, Gladstone GI and Masterton, regions connected by the Ruamahanga river. The most planted varieties across all three regions, now known as Wellington Wine Country, are Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, with smaller plantings of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Syrah.

14/02/2017: Uncorking innovation with Treasury in Napa
The ancient craft of wine making conjures romantic notions of hand-picked vines, and bare feet crushing grapes. However, wine production today is a thoroughly high-tech affair. Degree programs in viticulture and oenology, from Cornell University to UC Davis, reflect advances in the industry. Professors and courses there now focus on topics like “environmental control, and modified atmospheres,” “the genetic engineering of industrial microorganisms,” or “analytical instrumentation,” to name a few. What wine makers are going after with applied technology and science is a more profitable piece of an already sizable market.

14/02/2017: The Evolution of Lebanese Wine
If you ever need a new nose for your 1983 Mercedes 230E, Chtaura in the Bekaa Valley is the place to go. It’s full of workshops keeping Lebanon’s extraordinary range of 1970s and ‘80s European and American cars on the road. Yet, while this area looks like the last place you’d expect to find a world-class winery, at the edge of town, set back from the road, is a fine collection of 19th-century buildings that make up Domaine des Tourelles. At one point, this winery would have been somewhat isolated, but gradually the suburbs of Chtaura have engulfed it.

14/02/2017: Utah’s liquor markup among highest
Discovering a $13 bottle of wine at the liquor store may sound like a deal, until Utahns realize more than $6 of the cost goes to the state. The extra 88 percent — a combination of markup and freight— that Utah consumers pay on a single bottle of wine is the highest among all liquor-control jurisdictions in the country, according to numbers from California's Alcohol Research Group. And Utah's drinkers could be paying a few cents more if the Legislature approves a bill being drafted by House Majority Leader Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, and Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton.

14/02/2017: Gatineau sommelier to pair wines at 30,000 feet
World-renowned sommelier Véronique Rivest is rising to new heights — from her Gatineau wine bar to 30,000 feet in the sky. "That's something I'm looking forward to test a bit more," she said Monday on CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning. "You're obviously in a different environment — in a cabin up in the air, there's the altitude but I think there's, especially, the very dry environment of the cabin, which is said to really reduce our perception of fruitiness in wine and accentuate acidity and tannin."

13/02/2017: Why don’t labels show nutritional information
Ever wondered why you can't find ingredients lists or nutritional information on alcohol labelling? So have we. When a delicious "adults only" bottle of Lewis Road Creamery's new Chocolate Cream Liqueur arrived on our desks, we looked at the label, noticed the absence of information about sugar and general calorie content, and began to wonder. Why do alcohol products not list what's in them? This isn't an issue unique to booze in New Zealand – the world over, all wine, beer, and spirit products are except from the legal food standards that require nutritional information to be listed.

13/02/2017: Tumultuous start follows shaky end
I saw this great headline a few weeks back that basically summed up the weather so far this year: “2016, the hottest on record, but summer doesn’t appear to have got the memo.” How true is that? With just one month of the official summer period left, New Zealand has suffered from an avalanche of weather events. Bomb low weather systems, flooding, severe wind, near zero temperatures, sleet, hail, snow. The one thing missing has been the balmy summer days we hang out all year for. Let’s just hope the conditions calm down in time for the upcoming vintage.

13/02/2017: Oak sweeter than sugar for wine
How can wine taste sweet without any residual sugar? It might be down to an unexpected source. Have you ever tasted a white wine that seemed to have a hint of sweetness only to be told that it was completely dry? You're not alone. The phenomenon has caused many wine tasters to raise their eyebrows quizzically and question their palate when faced with a dry wine that seemed to contain a splash of sugar. However, it would appear that a spoonful of quercotriterpenosides helps this particular medicine to go down.

13/02/2017: Pink Pinot Grigio the most authentic version?
A wine merchant told me that rosé Pinot Grigio is actually the authentic, traditional Pinot Grigio of Italy and that the white is an innovation. The reason given was that Pinot Grigio has pinkish skin. I always assumed that rosé Pinot Grigio had some red wine added and was just a bit of commercial fakery. Who is right? David Gleave MW, is managing director of Liberty Wines, replies: Pinot Grigio grapes have a red (not pink) skin. Traditionally, there were wines that had a ramato (coppery) colour, which was derived from contact with the skins.

13/02/2017: The science to age whiskey in days
Over many years, the chemicals in the wooden cask mix and react with the chemicals in the spirit fraction to give the whiskey its characteristic taste. After the maturation process, the whiskey is distilled once more to get the taste just right, before it is sold to you. Each Scotch is unique because manufacturers can change so many variables in the process to create the hundreds of whiskeys marketed around the world. The longest step in the process is the maturation process, and if you are able to shorten it without losing out on the flavor then a producer could save lots of money. Researchers in Spain have tried to do that with aging brandy, which is made by distilling wine.

13/02/2017: Wine’s Japanese fling
What do we call it? Acceptance? Absorption? Adoption? Whatever word you prefer, the process is well under way: sake now seems to belong on wine lists and in wine magazines. Wine lovers revealing ignorance of or disaffection for this newly fashionable drink court opprobrium. This year’s most commented-on (and thus perhaps influential) Wine Advocate review did not cover Bordeaux 2015 or Napa 2014, but was a report written about sake by Chinese contributor Liwen (Martin) Hao, a journalist whom I have had the pleasure of tasting wine with at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards in the past.

10/02/2017: New Zealand steps up Albariño ambitions
An increasing number of New Zealand winemakers are investing in the Spanish variety Albariño, believing it to offer the acidity, salinity and softness to become an appealing, albeit small volume, alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. Native to north-west Spain and north-west Portugal, and Spain’s Rías Baixas in particular, Albariño is known for its saline, mineral character, bright acidity and aromas of citrus, apricot and peach, depending on the handling of the grape and the climate in which it is grown.

10/02/2017: Bay Area wins big in wine comp
If you want to drink well in the Bay Area, there’s plenty of stellar wine to choose from. The results of the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the nation’s largest, are out and Bay Area wineries excelled, with 64 East Bay and South Bay wineries capturing 348 best of show, double gold, gold, silver and bronze medals. Some 60 wine experts swirled, sipped and spit their way through 7,000 wines from 28 states. In the end, 11 best-of-class medals, 26 double golds and 68 gold medals went to local wineries.

10/02/2017: US wines 22 years of consecutive growth
Last year wine sales in the US achieved their 22nd consecutive year of volume growth as it ended the year up by 1.7% at 357.4m nine-litre cases. Still wine drove the addition of 4.5m nine-litre cases on a 1.4% growth rate over the previous year. Sparkling wine saw the strongest growth, up by 8.1% adding 1.6m nine-litre cases last year. Three of the top five leading brand volumes declined (Franzia, Carlo Rossi and Sutter Home) amid the trend of consumers trading up to more premium-priced (over $10.00) products.

10/02/2017: Cognac leads record French alcohol sales
France notched up record exports of wine and spirits for a second straight year in 2016 thanks to brisk sales of Cognac but the amount of wine sold declined, industry figures showed Thursday. Sales abroad rose 1.2 percent to 11.9 billion euros ($12.7 billion) last year, with spirits making up a third of the total and Cognac alone hitting an all-time export high, according to the French Federation of Exporters (FEVS). The figures showed that while the amount of wine sold declined -- France fell behind Italy as the world's biggest wine producer two years ago -- the product that was sold was of higher quality than in previous years and hence sold for a higher price.

10/02/2017: Will Chinese law change hurt purchases?
January saw the now-usual announcement of a Chinese property purchase in Bordeaux. This time it was Domaine de Bellair in Castillon Côtes de Bordeaux to Golden Field, a food and drinks company based between China and Taiwan. A few months earlier it was Domaine de Corteillac in Bordeaux Superieur to Daohe Wine and Spirits, a Chinese conglomerate with a wine and spirits subsidiary. The company that seems to be racheting up these sales, MSB Christies International Real Estate in Bordeaux, estimates that these two purchases bring the number of chateaux in the region under Chinese ownership to somewhere around 160, which seems to me either about right or slightly low.

10/02/2017: Prosecco reigns but Italian reds set for growth
Prosecco may be Brits' favourite wine, but lesser-known Italian regions are poised for greater popularity, according to a leading wine expert. Brian Howard, co-founder of analysts Wine Intelligence, told The Morning Advertiser (MA) Prosecco's popularity was unlikely to wane any time soon. He said: "It's a clear number one and I don't see it falling off the cliff, although Italy and a lot of importers are working hard at finding alternatives. It seems to take a long time - maybe five to 10 years - for a new wine region or style to become really embedded in the UK drinking culture.

9/02/2017: The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival
The Marlborough Wine and Food Festival has become a staple on many calendars across Marlborough. Kat Duggan sat down with Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens for an insight into what makes it tick. When grapes were first planted on a commercial scale in Marlborough nearly 40 years ago, so too was the seed for what would become Marlborough's biggest social event of the year. The 2017 Marlborough Wine and Food Festival will mark 33 years since its beginnings at Brancott Vineyard, one of the region's oldest. Not much has changed since the festival's beginnings, and Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens says that's a big part of its success.

9/02/2017: New Zealand pinots on the rise
The most amazing fact that came out of last week’s Pinot Noir New Zealand 2017 conference here was that just 20 years ago, the country’s most widely planted grape was Muller-Thurgau, a grape that makes boring wine. Yet it’s clear that just two decades later, New Zealand has the potential to make world-class wines from its cooler climates. A key to anyone recognizing this is allowing consumers around the world to be exposed to them. Which is beginning to happen.

9/02/2017: Wine opinions vinitaly survey
Latest survey on wine consumers in the US revealed the heavy usage of social media among the young generations in their 20s and 30s when exchanging infor-mation about wine thus showcasing the importance for wineries to be socially active in order to gain competitiveness in the US. Italian wines showed their high potential in the market ranking as the most chosen imported wine by 30%, as other countries followed with France 27%, Spain 19%, Australia 12%, Chile 11%, and were most preferred by consumers in their 30s and 40s.

9/02/2017: Italian fizz bubble continues to grow
Wine importer Buckingham Schenk is celebrating a 19% increase in annual turnover thanks to the indomitable UK favourites of Argentinian Malbec and Italian sparkling. In their end of year results released today, the importer and brand owner reported sales of 4.9m Prosecco bottles in 2016 - a 22% increase on the previous year. The wider sparkling category also drove growth, particularly Italian Spumante, through its group ownership with Schenk Italian Wineries and also Malbec.

9/02/2017: NZ, E.U. protest B.C. wine in grocery stores
Representatives of New Zealand and the European Union have notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that they intend to join the U.S. in protesting B.C.’s initiative to have only B.C. wines in the province’s grocery stores. “The measures maintained by the Canadian province of B.C. regarding the sale of wine in grocery stores may have a substantial impact on the sale and therefore on the importation of E.U. wine into B.C." the E.U. said in a statement. "The E.U. has, therefore, a substantial trade interest in these consultations.” New Zealand representatives released a similar short statement.

9/02/2017: Oil magnate builds international wine empire
Alejandro Pedro Bulgheroni, founder of the Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate, discusses his burgeoning international wine empire. He speaks with Bloomberg's Vonnie Quinn on "Bloomberg Markets." Bulgheroni is opening his 14th winery in Napa Valley to join his estates founded in countries around the globe.

8/02/2017: South Island good for wine, not dairy
A London wine expert is "appalled" with the dairy industry's impact on New Zealand's wine industry. However the head of New Zealand's main farming group says the expert's opinion is "uninformed" and "naive". Master of wine Peter McCombie? says he is shocked with the state of the environment as a result of dairy farming. "I am appalled at the degradation of the environment that dairy in the wrong place is causing New Zealand. I have no problem with Waikato and Taranaki, but Canterbury? Dairy doesn't belong."

8/02/2017: Diversity of New Zealand pinot noir
The diversity of New Zealand’s Pinot Noir came on centre stage at a SPIT workshop with Liam Steevenson MW, organized by Meiburg Wine Media. A flight of 12 Pinots from world-famous Central Otago and Sauvignon Blanc-dominated Marlborough, to rising Pinot stars including North Island’s Auckland, and South Island’s Nelson and Waipara were closely examined for their distinctive regional and terroir-driven styles at a SPIT workshop titled “Exploring New Zealand’s Pinot Noir: Latest Trends & Diversity of Terroir”. Although dwarfed by Sauvignon Blanc in terms of production and exports, New Zealand’s Pinot Noir could be the most exciting wine outside of Burgundy for its diversity and competitive retail price points.

8/02/2017: IGIS to buy Accolade Park warehouse in Bristol
South Korea’s IGIS Asset Management Co. is working on to buy Europe’s largest wine warehouse and distribution center in Bristol, U.K., from Australia-based global winery Accolade Wines in the U.K. for about 100 billion won ($87.6 million). According to the investment banking industry Monday, IGIS Asset Management has been courting local institutional investors to launch a real estate fund designed to a invest in Accolade Park, Europe’s largest wine warehouse and distribution center in Bristol commanding a space of 80,000 square meters.

8/02/2017: Working women in Japan drinking more wine
Japan’s swelling ranks of working women have grape growers 10,000 miles away cheering. Chilean vintners have emerged as the biggest beneficiary of Japan’s booming wine market. Their low-priced, fruit-driven product has found a receptive niche among women in their 40s and 50s, who have helped boost wine consumption to a new record every year since 2012. “Women drink more as their participation in the labor market is increasing, and their disposable incomes are expanding,” said Naoko Kuga, an analyst who tracks lifestyle changes at NLI Research Institute in Tokyo. “This trend works positively for wine consumption.”

8/02/2017: A wine fight brews here
On the same day I read about a wine trade war brewing between the United States and neighboring British Columbia , I also discovered the inclusivity of LaWinetech. Formed by a group of start-ups in the French wine world, LaWinetech’s website explains its mission this way: “Whether through mobile applications, web and other technology websites, our goal is to offer new solutions for discovery, choice, consumption or purchase.” They are not kidding. Another of LaWinetech’s three or four mission statements is: “ La Winetech is not only a French movement. Start-ups of all nationalities join us to create the first global coordination of digital wine companies .”

8/02/2017: US wineries see big jump in direct sales
More premium wine lovers in the US are going straight to the winery to buy their top bottles than ever before, says a new report showing record-breaking direct shipments in 2016. US wineries sent 17% more wine direct to drinkers in 2016 versus 2015, topping the five million-case barrier for the first time. Shipment value rose faster, by 18.5%, to $2.33 billion. It’s the first time direct-to-consumer sales have exceeded $2bn, said the report, compiled by trade publication Wines & Vines together with Sovos ShipCompliant.

7/02/2017: Pinot Noir takes Wellington by storm
New Zealand's capital city played host to a celebration of the country's second-most important variety, Pinot Noir. There was no Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in sight last week as 600 Pinotphiles from around the world descended upon New Zealand to discuss the famously fickle variety. The Pinot Noir NZ 2017 conference brought a host of very famous speakers to New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. The lineup included world wine authority Jancis Robinson, Japan's first Master of Wine Kenichi Ohashi, and Tool frontman (and keen winemaker), Maynard James Keenan.

7/02/2017: 'Moment of truth' for NZ agriculture in 2017
New Zealand agriculture faces a "moment of truth" in 2017, according to a report by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank. In its recently-released New Zealand Agricultural Outlook 2017 report, Rabobank says as an industry traditionally characterised by a liberal operating environment, and a key beneficiary of several decades of global shift to freer trade, agriculture faces a period of heightened regulatory uncertainty and change on both fronts. Releasing the report, Rabobank Country Banking general manager Hayley Moynihan said 2017 was ushering in a period of considerable change and uncertainty for New Zealand agriculture.

7/02/2017: English wine producers: "The world is our oyster"
Family run Black Dog Hill Vineyard in East Sussex is going global after landing a deal to supply its sparkling wines to 24 countries. Black Dog Hill Vineyard is a family business spanning three generations, with high ambitions to lead the emergence of boutique, grower-style English sparkling wines. Founded in 2007 by husband and wife team Jim and Anja Nolan, the Westmeston-based company is championing the evolution of English Sparkling wine.

7/02/2017: Rugby star becomes mud house brand ambassador
New Zealand’s Mud House Wines has appointed British rugby star George North as brand ambassador, it was announced this morning. The appointment of North as the face of the New Zealand wine further cements the position of Mud House in rugby – the brand is already the official wine sponsor of The British & Irish Lions. As a result of the tie-up announced today, North, who was one of the stars of the successful 2013 Lions Tour, will work with Mud House to build on the brand’s sponsorship of The British & Irish Lions and will feature prominently in Mud House customer marketing campaigns.

7/02/2017: The Two Wine Industries: Separate and Distinct
It is becoming abundantly clear that there exist today in the United States two very distinct and separately operating wine industries. One, the larger of the two, is dedicated to selling relatively inexpensive wine to the masses. The other is dedicated to selling relatively expensive wine to a smaller group of wine lovers. What’s interesting about these two separate industries is that there is less and less for their members to talk to each other about. Take for example the recent Unified Symposium in Sacramento and one particular seminar entitled, “Adapt or Go Extinct: Removing Barriers to Our Industry’s Success”.

7/02/2017: Great wine regions you've probably never heard of
Burgundy, Napa Valley, Marlborough, Tuscany -- true wine fans have probably already ticked the great grape regions off their lists. Thankfully, these days, there are even more wine worlds to conquer. Recent years have seen new or lesser-known vineyards produce outstanding vintages that are redrawing the wine map. From Myanmar, Canada, to Portugal, here are some hidden and beautiful wine locations ripe for exploring.

6/02/2017: Wine experts taken trip of Hawke's Bay
International wine connoisseurs sipped on Sauvignon Blanc, and celebrated Chardonnay yesterday - all while soaring through the air bound for Hawke's Bay. A unique "Wine Flight" shepherding about 60 international wine media and experts flew into Hawke's Bay yesterday afternoon for this weekend's inaugural "Classic Reds Symposium". This was the final event of a bustling fortnight, which included enjoying New Zealand wine at two consecutive wine conferences in Nelson and Wellington.

6/02/2017: I'll See Your Wild Ferment and Raise You Another
Few things more starkly divide the winemaking world than the philosophy surrounding how fermentation takes place. This is both a literal and philosophical separation. As the single most important chemical change in the context of winemaking (the conversion of the fruit's sugars to alcohol) it might be said that the method of fermentation is among the most significant ways that the winemaker can shape the final wine. In my 13 years of visiting wineries, meeting with winemakers and talking with them about their craft, few ideas are held more strongly than a winemaker's point of view on native (using yeasts found on the grapes and in the winery environment) versus inoculated (using commercially developed yeasts) fermentation.

6/02/2017: Bulgaria’s best customers are Poland and Australia
Bulgaria’s best customer for exports of its wine is – among EU countries – Poland, while among non-EU countries, the best customer is Australia. This emerges from figures for 2011 to 2015, released by Bulgaria’s National Statistical Institute (NSI). Among EU member states, Poland bought more than 70 million litres of wine from Bulgaria. Far behind, but in second place, was Romania, at about 25 million litres, followed by the Czech Republic, at about 15 million litres. Among non-EU countries, Australia imported about 65 million litres of wine from Bulgaria.

6/02/2017: Does Shiraz wine come from Iran?
Until the Islamic revolution, Iran had a tradition of wine-making which stretched back centuries. It centred on the ancient city of Shiraz - but is there a connection between the place and the wine of the same name now produced and drunk across the world? "I remember my father bringing in the grapes and putting them in a big clay vat," says California-based wine-maker Darioush Khaledi, recalling his childhood in pre-revolutionary Iran. "I would climb on top and smell and enjoy the wine." Darioush's family was from Shiraz, a fabled city in south-western Iran, whose name was once synonymous with viticulture and the poetry and culture of wine.

6/02/2017: A game changer for Canadian wine
The year 2016 was a big year for the Canadian beverage alcohol industry in Canada. We saw big changes to how the LCBO does business with the introduction of online sales. We also saw beer and wine beginning to make their way on to grocery store shelves in Ontario and B.C. One of the biggest changes, though, for now anyway, comes in the way of labelling rules and requirements. You might think that Canadian wine is just that, Canadian, but, you’d be wrong — kind of. You see, a long time ago in a winery far, far away, somebody much smarter than me figured out a way to bring bulk, inexpensive Canadian wine to market, in order to compete with inexpensive wines from California, Australia, Italy, etc.

6/02/2017: Do we need a natural wine alternative?
Can you send a ‘natural’ wine back because it’s horrible to drink, or have you implicitly accepted the possibility and committed yourself to paying when you ordered it, asks Hugh Johnson. If I go to an art gallery, the evidence is before my eyes: I can see, judge and not buy. If there’s a cork between me and the evidence, things are different. Which is why wine depends on certain assumptions (of clarity, stability and a balance between strength, sweetness and acidity) and the sort of conventions enshrined in appellation systems. ‘Natural’ doesn’t come into it; these are works of craftsmanship; even, occasionally, art. Does a winemaker, then, have the right to sell me something that ignores, or flouts, the winemaking conventions that I rely on?

Research Findings

What's On in Australia

What's On Overseas


Rowe Scientific



Internation Wine Challenge

Leeder Analytical

AB Mauri

WID 2016