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News posted on Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Harvest contractor work dwindles
Wine grape harvest contractors are feeling the pinch of an exodus of growers from the industry. Grapegrower and contractor Louise Belej said so many growers in the Murray Valley had left the industry her client base had dropped from 125 to around 10 grape producers. She said growers in the region were barely breaking even and some won't be able to pay their contractors.

Hunter vintage wraps up after wet summer
Hunter Valley winemakers have been battling to get the last of their grapes off the vine after a heat wave threatened to impact the quality of the fruit. After a turbulent start to harvest with consistently wet weather, Hunter vignerons have finally wrapped up their annual pick. There was concern heavy rain in January would wipe out much of the vintage, but a spike in temperatures in February allowed some last minute ripening of the grapes.

Aldi just had its first setback in Australia
Aldi, the German discount supermarket chain that’s caused massive headaches for Australia’s supermarket duopoly of Coles and Woolworths, has suffered its first setback in 15 years of trading in Australia, announcing today that it will close its online liquor outlet in three weeks.

Five things you need to know about Woolworths’ new chief executive Brad Banducci
Woolworths has appointed Brad Banducci as chief executive and managing director after posting a $972.7 million loss in its half-year results. Banducci takes over from retiring chief executive Grant O’Brien, and was deemed the strongest internal applicant by the Woolworths’ board. This article brings you five things you need to know about the new Woolies chief executive.

Aussie drinking culture is the problem
It's ridiculous, on face value, to picture the NSW police cracking down a few weeks ago on a rogue wine list placed dangerously close to a Paddington street. That wine list was apparently a direct invitation – if not an order – for the fine citizens of Sydney's inner east to binge and go crazy, a shining beacon attracting all of the hardcore boozers like drunken moths to an alcoholic flame.

Marlborough bubbles break open harvest floodgates
Harvest time has arrived again, with the first grapes of the season picked from the vines on Monday to make sparkling wine. Nautilus Estate of Marlborough got the ball rolling, picking around 10 tonnes of Pinot Noir grapes from its Renwick vineyard. The wine company is a member of Methode Marlborough, a group of 10 wine companies in the region that produce sparkling wine using the traditional method.

Grape expectations in Gisborne
Indevin did a trial pick of the first of the region’s grape crop yesterday and signs are it could be another “stunning” vintage for Gisborne wine. The company harvested grapes from a Makauri vineyard. “As a first pick it was a fantastic result,” said Indevin production winemaker Steve Voysey. “It showed us the grapes are ripening quickly and we are ready to go with our harvest.”

Could this be Napa's earliest budbreak?
With the combination of warm temperatures and relatively little recent rain, bud break has begun in Napa Valley, marking the beginning of the winegrape growing season. “Buds on Chardonnay have begun swelling and bursting on a few vines. With this warm weather and no real rain or cold weather in the near forecast, it shouldn’t be long before everything takes off,” said Brittany Pederson, viticulturist at Silverado Farming Company and a member of the Napa Valley Grapegrowers.

Croatia's first Master of Wine
More people have been in space than there are Masters of Wine. It has been a long wait, but finally a Croatian-born Master of Wine is here. Ivan Barbic, born in Croatia and working now in Switzerland, has joined the prestigious ranks of the Institute members and can now attach the coveted letters MW after his name. After today, the Master of Wine title is held by a total of 344 wine experts from 25 countries.

The price point that divides wine buyers: $17
There has always been a line dividing the wine market in two. It’s the dollar figure between affordable and expensive, or in the minds of some, between sensible and stupid. To speak of a single line is an abstraction, of course, because it varies from person to person, and it has risen over time. But if you had to guess at an average number, where would you draw the line today?

California: Mandatory training for alcohol servers proposed
A Southern California legislator has proposed a bill that requires training for restaurant and bar workers intended to prevent the serving of alcohol to intoxicated patrons. The state-approved, four-hour training courses for bartenders, servers and managers would include “intervention techniques to prevent the service or sale of alcoholic beverages to underage or intoxicated persons,” the bill says.

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