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News posted on Monday, 3 April 2017

Casella Family Brands buys Ballast Stone
Casella Family Brands confirmed late last week it had acquired ownership of assets from Shaw Family Vintners (Ballast Stone Estate). While the financial terms of the sale are commercial in confidence, a $16million figure has been rumoured across the grape and wine community. The purchase includes 432 Hectares of vineyards across Fleurieu Peninsula comprising of 42ha at McLaren Vale and 390ha at Currency Creek.

Changes to alcohol tax and regulation urged
Ahead of the May budget, industry and health groups are pushing for a rethink of the notoriously complex tax regime for alcohol in Australia. A cross-party Senate committee, chaired by Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, has proposed sweeping changes to alcohol regulation.

Australian wine aims for world's top tables
Richard Hargreave, sommelier at momofuku in Las Vegas, says diners in his restaurant rarely think of Australian wines. "This is partly because California rules here – much like how American wine is not super popular in Australia," he said. That will hopefully change: Mr Hargreave is one of the recruits in the Australian wine industry's latest push to pour its products into the glasses of the world's most discerning drinkers and diners.

Treasury to sell Hawke's Bay vineyards
Two large vineyards in Hawke's Bay are facing an uncertain future. The properties, which are mostly planted in grapes, have been put on the market by owner Treasury Wine Estates. The Australian-owned wine company is selling the vineyards without ongoing supply contracts, so they could be converted for other uses.

Marlborough: Largest five-year GDP improvement in NZ
Marlborough is the little economy that could, outstripping major centres like Auckland and Canterbury to post the country's largest gains in gross domestic product over a five-year period. Figures from Statistics New Zealand showed between 2011 and 2016, GDP in the region climbed 32.3 per cent, the largest growth in the country.

The winemakers global roaming
An overseas vintage stint is considered to be a rite of passage in the industry and, for many, it is an affliction that cannot be easily shaken; some return to overseas wine regions every year to work the Northern Hemisphere harvest. Looking at the history books, some of Australia’s most renowned winemakers have done their time overseas.

Innocent Bystander to be distributed by Brown Brothers
Innocent Bystander brand will be distributed in Australia by parent company Brown Brothers effective 2nd June 2017. The decision to bring domestic distribution to Brown Brothers from Fine Wine Partners coincides with the purchase of the Australian Lion Wine business by Accolade Wines.

Winemakers scramble to add sparkling varieties
Everybody’s going nuts for spumante, or sparkling wine. With yet another record year for exports (foreign sales of ‘Made in Italy’ sparkling wines grew by 21.4% in 2016, versus just +4.3% for wines in general), many people are now looking to back the winning horse.

China becomes leading purchaser of Chilean wine
Chilean wine exports reached 215.9 million U.S. dollars in January and February, representing a 12.4 percent rise on 2016, with China topping the list of destinations. According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday, exports reached 68.2 million litres, 11.9 percent more than the same period last year.

Bordeaux’s Château Lynch Bages buys Haut-Batailley
In a rare deal, a notable classified-growth Bordeaux winery has changed hands. Wine Spectator has learned that the Cazes family, owners of the well-known Pauillac fifth-growth Château Lynch Bages, has purchased Château Haut-Batailley, a fellow fifth-growth also located in Pauillac. Haut-Batailley comprises 100 acres, roughly half of them planted, and produces 9,000 cases annually.

Russian wine production declines
Russian wine production declined by 10% in 2016, to 37m decalitres, according to statistics published by the Russian Ministry of Agriculture, which is one of the poorest results for the country’s winemaking in the last several years. Growth was observed only in the case of Russia’s largest wine producers, such as Massandra (in Crimea), Abrau-Durso and some others.

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WID 2017