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Levy to give wine industry stronger voice

Barossa grapegrowers will experience massive changes from the 2008 vintage as the industry comes together as one voice with common goals.

From September, growers will contribute $6 per tonne to the newly formed Barossa Grape and Wine Association and $1 per tonne to State and Federal Government.

All Barossa fruit processed by wineries will attract $5 per tonne or a contribution of $48,000 annually.

Approximately 180 growers heard this news on Monday night at a public meeting. The meeting was jointly organised by the Barossa Grape and Wine Association (BGWA) and Wine Grape Growers’ Australia (WGGA). While it was a chance to inform growers of the Barossa Wine Industry Management Plan (BWIMP), guest speakers gave an insight into the winegrape outlook for the next five years, a wine industry code of conduct and WGGA’s plan for the winegrape industry.

According to Alan Newton, chairman of WGGA, the aim is to recognize the full worth of the winegrape growers and lift the performance of the industry.

Mark McKenzie, executive director of WGGA, spoke of the Taking Stock and Setting Directions report, which has identified the need to improve data and analysis for commercial decision making, the need to entrench innovation and invest in research and development as well as the need for strong national grower industry body to drive policies, strategies and independent analysis. He also told growers the importance of improving relations with wine production sectors.

Methods taught internationally surrounding grapegrowing an winemaking has resulted in a more competitive market and coupled with a large buying power with supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths regional areas face challenging times.

And with growers struggling to secure the best price for their grape and wineries vying for promotion of their Barossa labels, climate change and water are other issues facing the industry.

But with the adoption of the BWIMP and growers supporting WGGA it is envisaged these issues will be delved into further and addressed.

Wine industry analyst, Stuart McGrath-Kerr explained a myriad of figures and comparisons drawing the conclusion that there is now a better understanding of the overall stock levels and they appear to not be as high as previously thought.

“The very poor vintage this year and expected poor vintage next year will not solve our industry’s underlying problems,” secretary of the BGWA, Bob Taplin said.

“If things don’t change, we will quickly return to an oversupply of grapes and all of the problems that brings. However, what the low grape yields have done and will do is give us some breathing space to address our problems and try to improve the demand for our wines.”

Both parties are now attempting to gather a database of the region’s grapegrowers. Register your details at Barossa and Light Regional Development Board on (08) 8563 3603.

Emma Moreland, The Leader, 25 July 2007

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