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Petrol price fuels decline on winery visits

The soaring costs of fuel forced many traditional visitors to the Goulburn Valley region to stay at home at the long weekend, with wineries the hardest hit.

Tahbilk Winery’s Suzanne Williams said she saw a dramatic reduction in tourist numbers compared to previous years.

“This weekend alone we have been down 30%. The crowds are not coming in the cellar door as they have in previous years,” Williams said.

“Most of our weekend business has also slipped back since the petrol rise but there is not a lot we can do.”

Michelton Wines cellar manager Sam Carnie also noticed a drop in business which she also puts down to fuel costs.

“Mondays (on public holidays) are normally really busy but it hasn’t been compared to previous years,” Carnie said.

“Our Saturday customers were also down.”

Carnie said the price of fuel was also affecting the average spend of customers.

“Those coming for the day won’t buy as much and we are seeing a trend of customers buying the less expensive varieties. People just don’t have the extra money. They are getting in their car and spending it on a tank of fuel.”

Carnie said the price of fuel meant wineries were having to look at other ways to sell wines, including expanding wine clubs and offering free shipping on orders.

“We have been looking to focus on large groups and businesses. We are also considering bus trips. People can still come out and get the same experience without it costing as much,” Carnie said.

While such plans are in the pipeline, Carnie said there was a need to promote the region as a whole, instead of relying on people driving up from Melbourne for the day.

“We need to encourage people to come for a weekend. It will give them better value,” she said.

Ben Bulmer Shepparton News Tuesday, 10 June 2008



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