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News posted on Monday, 4 May 2015

FEATURE: Can Australia, China match France in wine?
Friday marked the start of Aussie Wine Month, Australia’s nationwide celebration of its wine industry with tastings, tours, and festivals. On the surface, the industry seems to be prospering. Australia has seen a rise of 3.6 per cent in volume and 3.9 per cent in value of wine exports in the 12 months ending in March 2015, according to the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AG&WA). Markets in Asia are driving this growth, for both bulk wine and high-end vintages, the latter of which is particularly popular in China. But where’s the profit?

Harvest Trail turns to Tasmania’s wine industry
Fair Work Ombudsman inspectors will visit Tasmania’s Tamar Valley and Coal River wine regions next week as part of an ongoing focus on the entitlements of seasonal workers. The Agency’s Regional Services Team will conduct site visits to up to 15 randomly-selected vineyards as part of its three-year Harvest Trail project. Fair Work inspectors will speak to growers and labour-hire contractors about their obligations under federal workplace laws and encourage any employees with concerns to come forward.

Hunter Valley wine festival to join Wine and Food Month
The Hunter Valley Wine Festival will be moving from its previous October date to Saturday 20 June to join the Hunter Valley Wine and Food Month line up. The festival will be staged at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley boasting over 40 exhibiting vineyards including the Valley’s major wineries, as well as boutique producers. Beer and cider tastings from the on-site Lovedale Brewery, along with a host of food options will also be on offer.

Tassie winemakers celebrate high quality yields
Tasmania's wine industry is celebrating a solid vintage, with a larger crop expected to help bridge the gap between supply and growing demand for the state's wine. Australia's wine industry is grappling with a national grape glut, unlike Tasmania, where demand outstrips supply. Grape quality has been high across the state, with an increase in fruit tonnages in some regions welcome news after a lighter vintage in 2014.

The 2010 Henschke Hill of Grace is out this week and everyone thinks it's amazing
The 2010 vintage of one of Australia’s greatest wines, Henschke Hill of Grace, is about to be released and wine critics are already singing its praises, with several scoring it 99/100. Winemaker Stephen Henschke, the fifth generation to tend the vines at this family-owned winery in the Eden Valley, just behind the Barossa, says the wine matches the 2002 and 2005 vintages. He describes the 2010 vintage as having “radiance”.

Hat-trick of quality vintages
The Hawke's Bay wine industry looks to have scored a hat-trick of quality vintages. Many in the business are describing the almost-harvested 2015 vintage as a "great one". With more than 85 per cent of the grapes now in, there were already plenty of smiles. The 2013 and 2014 vintages across the Bay were stand-outs with several winemakers describing them as among the best over the past century, and initial indications for the latest harvest are that it will be three in a row.

Yealands plans growth as Marlborough land prices recover
Yealands Wine Group plans to expand its land holdings in New Zealand’s Marlborough region as competition for wine-growing property drives up prices, founder Peter Yealands said. New Zealand’s biggest producer of Pinot Gris owns 1,500 hectares (3,705 acres) of vineyards and Yealands said he would double the company’s acreage if he could. Apart from Marlborough’s signature Sauvignon Blanc varietal, Yealands makes wines from grapes such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir under the Yealands Estate and Peter Yealands brands.

MEPs adopt EU alcohol resolution
MEPs adopted a resolution on calorie content of alcoholic drinks yesterday, a move welcomed by industry and stakeholders across Europe who hope it will spur the Commission into legislating. Europe's previous alcohol strategy expired in 2013 and has not yet been replaced, while drinks containing more than 1.2 per cent alcohol by volume were exempt fro the food labelling laws which came into force last December.

Chinese wine associations establish first trade body
Seventeen wine associations across China have united in a bid to increase domestic wine sales and improve cooperation between the various wine regions. The first ever trade body for Chinese wine associations has been established in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, reports Decanter China. It is hoped that the China Wine Associations Alliance (CWAA) will help bring domestic wines to the market and become a contact point between wine producers and local distributors.

Scientists find wines from different terroirs have distinct 'fingerprints'
How tangible is terroir? Winemakers and wine drinkers love to discuss whether a particular patch of earth can speak through a wine. But can science actually prove such a connection? A group of researchers at the University of California at Davis tried to do just that, and found that by analysing the chemical composition of nearly identical wines from two different countries they could map distinct differences, creating a chemical fingerprint for two different terroirs. The findings not only add fuel to the terroir debate but may also provide a valuable tool for sniffing out counterfeit wines.

Women in wine: motherhood
Working mothers everywhere are all too familiar with the difficulties of balancing professional life with family life. Mothers in the wine industry face their own particular challenges, such as grape harvests that refuse to observe children’s bedtimes and frequent travel for sales trips. For Elena Walch, who started her namesake winery in Italy’s Alto Adige region, and Susana Balbo, who founded Argentina’s Dominio del Plata in Mendoza, the trying years of winemaking-plus-childrearing have paid off with what they say is the ultimate gift: Their children have joined the family business.

Aussie wine and beer in good spirits, says Owens-Illinois
Australia’s embattled wine sector, crushed in recent years by a strong Australian dollar and a glut of cheap commercial wine, could be in the early stages of a return to growth, says one of the world’s biggest suppliers of wine bottles, the US-based Owens-Illinois. Reporting the company’s first quarter earnings, Owens-Illinois chairman and chief executive Albert Stroucken, who recently visited the group’s glass bottling factories in the region, said there was also early evidence of a stabilisation of plummeting beer volumes as shoppers returned to the stores.

The right fit for your wine bottles
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