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Outlook 2008 provides good platform for discussion

Katherine Lindh

More than 300 industry representatives, delegates, directors, marketers and winemakers attended the 14th Wine Industry Outlook Conference, Striking a Sustainable Balance, at Australian Technology Park at Eveleigh, Sydney, yesterday.

The conference, moderated by Michael Pascoe, addressed a number of key issues in the wine industry, including an insight into the current economic situation, details of the supply and demand challenge, discussions on water trading, exports and ‘regionality’ in Australian wine regions.

Keynote speaker, Lawrie Stanford, manager information and analysis, Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, offered the industry a range of statistical information and observations for reflection.

“The Australian wine sector currently faces extraordinary uncertainty in both supply and demand,” Stanford said. “Seasons, water availability and fledging water markets contribute to supply-side uncertainty.”

“In the face of a volumetrically smaller, but higher value market opportunity going forward, the belief that the Australian wine sector needs to downsize is becoming more and more compelling.

“Relentless pursuit of quality and cost-saving represents some of the few options for Australian winemakers to cope with these short-term conditions,” Stanford said.

The ‘on the couch’ discussion in the afternoon consisted of a panel of industry experts, including Amy Russell, director — natural resources, Winemaker’s Federation of Australia; Alister Purbrick, chief executive, Tahbilk; Christopher Findlay, Head of the School of Economics, University of Adelaide; John Grant, president of Hardy Wine Company; and Andrew Weeks, vineyard manager, Jubilee Park Vineyards, Riverland.

Further discussion regarding sustainability and future forecasts for the Australian wine industry was debated amongst the audience, led by the panel.

The 14th Wine Industry Outlook Conference, Striking a Sustainable Balance, was proudly presented by Winetitles and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia. Major sponsors included Challenger Wine Trust, Gaetjens Langley, ZORK, and Booth Global.

Full reports on the Outlook Conference will appear in the December edition of the Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine and the November/December edition of the Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal.

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