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6/11/2014

Rutherglen calls for State Government tourism and trade support

Rutherglen winemakers have welcomed Wine Victoria’s recently announced industry priorities ahead of the state election, including important trade and tourism recommendations.

Winemakers of Rutherglen, alongside more than 800 Victorian grapegrowers and winemakers represented by Wine Victoria, call for a stronger partnership with State Government, including funding for inbound trade activities and regional wine events.

“Partnering with State Government would help Victorian winemakers return the industry to a profitable level, whilst ensuring a flow-on of state-wide benefits, including employment, in regional Victoria,” Damien Cofield, Winemakers of Rutherglen chairman and Cofield Wines winemaker said.

Statewide, the wine industry is one of the last regionally-based manufacturing industries that value-adds, directly employing more than 2600 regional Victorians in winemaking and viticulture, and indirectly employing more than 11,500 people through tourism, hospitality and support roles.

“However, despite the wine industry’s benefits to the state, things have been tough for domestic wine sales because of the retail crunch that has driven down profit margins for our suppliers,” Cofield said.

“Winemakers of Rutherglen is calling for State Government to get behind us by funding marketing campaigns and wine focused events that would benefit Victoria’s 21 wine regions.

"A thriving regional tourism scene will help drive direct sales via visits to the cellar door.

“We also need support for exports to key and emerging markets, given that Victorian suppliers have struggled to make a profit from exports since 2007, despite wine being one of Victoria’s most valuable food exports.”

Further, the high Australian dollar and a state of oversupply have been particular barriers over this time, but Victoria’s advantage lies in its offering of premium wine with a growing popularity.

“The world is developing a taste for Victorian wine and we need to continue to build this demand,” Cofield added.

“From a trade perspective, Wine Victoria members have welcomed government support through inbound trade missions and export delegations to Asia, and have made recommendations to focus on the US, UK and Canada – also strong markets.”

Wine exports are worth $197m a year to Victoria, and 60 per cent is exported internationally to 80 countries with China, the UK, the US and Hong Kong the top four markets.

“If the incoming State Government adopts Wine Victoria’s recommendations, prosperity will be delivered to regional Victoria and beyond, making significant steps towards ending the industry’s profitability issues,” Cofield said.

“A healthy partnership between industry and government can bring back the vitality of Victoria’s wine industry while delivering real economic benefits back to the state.

“As we move closer to the election, Wine Victoria is focused on ensuring our future political leaders are well briefed on the issues of trade and export and regional tourism."

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