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News posted on Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hong Kong firm buys 650ha of Australian vineyards
Hong Kong's CK Life Sciences has added to its vineyard collection by acquiring three Australian vineyards owned by wine producer McWilliam's for nearly $16 million. The Hong Kong firm, which already owns thousands of hectares of vines, said it has bought the Hanwood vineyard in Griffith, New South Wales, as well as the Station and Kirkgate vineyards in South Australia. It paid $15.7m for 700ha of land, of which 650 is under vine. CK Life Sciences is a subsidiary of billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Cheung Kong Holdings.

Good Hunter vintage despite recent heavy rain
Hunter vignerons say while heavy rain in recent weeks has threatened local grape crops, they have already have produced some fantastic wines. Vigneron Bruce Tyrell says despite some grape rot due to delayed harvest, it is not all bad news. He said provided the weather forecast remains clear, this year's vintage should be a good drop. "There's been a bit of talk about disaster because it's rained," he said. "I suppose what I'm saying is, we've got some great wine in the can. But if we were to get four, five or six days of misty rain with no wind or high humidity, yeah, then we're in big trouble."

Mobile point of sale is changing the cellar door experience
Mobile POS systems let you sell where you couldn’t before. When your POS is portable - you can use it at a private tasting, out on a deck, or as you’re walking through the barrel room. If you’re at an off-site tasting event, it’s now possible to take a sale right then and there. Using a point of sale system that gets you out from behind the tasting bar and creates a more intimate experience. There are a lot of relatively simple things happening on the mobile POS that traditional systems just don't do. If a customer has an expired card on their wine club, the system will prompt the staff. If the customer has a package to pick up - the system prompts the staff. The mobile POS is definitely “smarter” than a traditional system.

Vale Phillip John
One of the greats in the Australian wine fraternity passed away this week. Born into a famous Barossa Valley cooperage family, Phillip John was destined to be in the wine industry. He started his winemaking career with Seppelt’s straight out of school, and stayed with them until 1980 when he joined Lindeman’s. This role took him to Sydney where he oversaw winemaking in the Hunter Valley as well as their growing Sunraysia operations. Phillip 'fathered' one of Australia's first successes in the US and UK, Lindeman’s Bin 65 Chardonnay, but was reluctant to carry this mantle, wanting to earn a reputation for fine wine.

Air New Zealand's wine awards sponsorship questioned
Winemakers are divided on Air New Zealand's involvement in the national wine awards following the airline's decision to appoint a single wine supplier for Koru lounges and economy cabins. Air New Zealand has held the naming rights for the country's premier wine awards for 28 years, but its exclusive deal with Villa Maria wines has raised hackles in the industry. Misha Wilkinson, director of Central Otago winery Misha's Vineyard, said it was "totally inappropriate" for Air New Zealand to continue sponsoring the awards.

NZ winemaking pioneers have one thing in common
A few New Zealand wineries recently passed the 30-vintage milestone. These companies are often called "pioneers". They were certainly among the first of the modern era to plant vines, benefiting from a burgeoning public appetite for wine that began to take hold 40-odd years ago. But New Zealand wine didn't begin in the late 1970s, any more than sexual intercourse began in 1963 (a tongue-in-cheek assertion made by British poet Philip Larkin). Some other recent winery birthdays say as much.

Top 10 most powerful fine wine brands
Taken from the 2014 Liv-ex Power 100 list, this top 10 tracks the value share of the most powerful brands traded on the exchange in the 12 months to August 31st 2014. “The fact there is nothing on the list outside of Bordeaux is worth noting,” said Liv-ex director Anthony Maxwell. “It reflects the size of the properties in Bordeaux. That’s where there is volume, quality and price, and that’s what people can get behind. All the First Growths are there, and these are the wines that are most sought after reflected in value of total trade.”

China's graft crackdown can't slow Hong Kong wine sales
Beijing's crackdown on official gift-giving and lavish banquets has failed to dampen Hong Kong's enthusiasm for vintage wine, with Sotheby's reporting that the city was its most lucrative sales venue again last year. The auction house's Hong Kong sales reached US$28.8 million (A$37m), up 13 per cent year on year and representing 44 per cent of its global sales of US$65.3m ($84m). London ranked second while New York, where takings rose 23 per cent, ranked third.

Drink blitz sees bottle of wine rise to €9 minimum
IRELAND: A bottle of wine would cost a minimum of €8.80 (A$12.90) and a can of beer at least €2.20 ($3.20) under proposals aimed at outlawing cheap alcohol sales. The move is part of Health Minister Leo Varadkar's vow to end the sale of cheap drink, which he believes is fuelling the nation's drink problem. Cigarette packet-style health warnings and calorie counts on alcohol labels would also be made compulsory under new legislation. Varadkar got Cabinet approval yesterday for the Heads of the proposed Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015, which will set a minimum price for drink sales.

New distribution for Blue Pyrenees
The Wine Company has announced a new trading partnership with Victorian winery, Blue Pyrenees Estate, effective from March 1. Established in 1963, Blue Pyrenees is most recognised for its Midnight Cuvee, crowned Australia’s Finest Sparkling Wine at the Champagne and Sparkling World Championships in 2014. Blue Pyrenees CEO and chief winemaker Andrew Koerner said the company was excited about the opportunity of partnering with TWC. “We were very impressed with the business acumen and drive of The Wine Company, and their growth plans,” he said.

Rich wine drinkers flock to Aldi and Lidl
Middle and upper-class drinkers are now just as likely as the rest of us to be buying their booze at Aldi or Lidl - especially if they drink red wine. New research shows that 45 per cent of rich ABC1 households have shopped at one of the discount supermarkets in the last three months, the same proportion as for lower-income C2DE families. And, according to analyst firm the Wilson Drinks Report (WDR), 13 per cent of people do most of their drinks shopping at Aldi or Lidl, with another 39 per cent saying they shop there some of the time. Red wine drinkers are most likely to have shopped for food or alcohol at one of the discounters – 39 per cent - while lager drinkers are the least likely.

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