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Helm Wines shows faith in the future of Canberra Wines

Concerns about the health of the Australian wine industry and fears that the global financial crisis will affect consumer spending are not being felt at Helm Wines in Murrumbateman.

Recently released Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showing a 30% increase in the wine grape crush across Australia for 2008 have led the Wine Federation of Australia to call for a downsizing of the wine industry, amid concerns that the wine surplus may grow even further.

Helm Wines of Murrumbateman, in the Canberra District, is ignoring these warnings and planting more vines — one of the few wineries continuing to do so at a time when many other growers are mothballing or pulling out their vines.

Winemaker Ken Helm has sourced a very old Riesling clone which dates back to some of the first grapes ever grown in Australia, which were planted in 1847 at Pewsey Vale vineyard in South Australia. The vines, which are expected to bear fruit in 2012, will see the winery's Riesling production grow by 25%. Ken believes these vines will add further to the reputation Helm Wines has developed for producing high quality Rieslings.

Helm Wines is planting the vines because the demand for its wine continues to grow despite the economic climate and fears about the future of the industry.

Winemaker Ken Helm says "we are not seeing a downturn at the cellar door or in our sales to the trade — in fact it is quite the opposite in the winery at the moment. The 2008 Premium Riesling and Premium Cabernet are particularly popular with consumers. Both wines have enjoyed recent successes at major wine shows: the Premium Riesling was awarded the Trophy for Best White of Show at the Cool Climate Wine Show and took a Gold medal at the Canberra Regional Wine Show, while the Premium Cabernet took a silver medal at the London Decanter World Wine Awards and was Highly Commended by the Sydney International Wine Competition."

At a cost of over $45,000 per hectare, and with a three to four year time frame for vines to come into production, planting a vineyard is a long term investment. This new vineyard demonstrates Helm Wines' faith in the future of the Canberra Wine industry, and in the continued popularity in particular of the Riesling variety.

Contact: Ken Helm, 6227 5953

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