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News posted on Monday, 5 December 2016

Wine community Christmas present: WET rebate update
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT has announced a revised WET rebate and eligibility package, providing clarity before Vintage 2017 begins. The previously announced cut to the cap from $500,000 down to $290,000 will be revised to $350,000 with an additional top up grant of $100,000 also set to be introduced. The revised eligibility criteria for claiming the WET rebate will become ownership of at least 85 per cent of the grapes at the crusher. The cap changes will also be deferred until 1 July 2018, but revised eligibility criteria will be brought forward to this date. There will also be a new mandatory process to ensure the tax liability has been incurred before the rebate is claimed.

Fire at McLaren Vale winery Alpha Box & Dice
Billowing black smoke filled the sky above McLaren Vale on Sunday as fire caused up to $400,000 damage to the cellar door at trendy winery Alpha Box and Dice. SA Country Fire Service commander, Brett Loughlin, said just after midday yesterday, multiple calls were made to report a commercial structure alight at the Olivers Rd winery. He said seven appliances and 40 firefighters battled the blaze for around 30 minutes to bring it under control and save the last remaining quarter of the stone building.

Make way for more female bosses in Australian wine industry
Michelle Geber has stepped up to become the boss of a 116-year-old wine company in the Barossa Valley and says many more female chief executives will follow in the wine industry around Australia as generational change accelerates. Geber, who has become general manager at Chateau Tanunda, said the wine industry, which was traditionally dominated by males, has been gradually shifting. "I think the industry is opening up more and more to women," she said. The shift will speed up, as many of Australia's family-owned or privately-owned wine producers go through generational change.

How climate change is affecting the wine we drink
Regardless of where Australian wine makers are growing — from the Hunter Valley to the Tamar Valley — climate change is making its presence felt. It’s creating big challenges for an industry already dealing with so much, including a more competitive market here and overseas. Winemakers are adapting, and consumers need to be open to changing their wine drinking habits. There is no doubt that higher temperatures will mean higher alcohol content, compressed vintages and higher risks for our winemakers.

Hungerford Hill announces new owner and winemaker
Hungerford Hill Wines, which was established in 1967, has a new owner after being purchased by Iris Capital, owned by Sam Arnaout. The purchase of Hungerford Hill is the second significant wine related investment in the Hunter Valley by Iris Capital, after the purchase of Sweetwater Estate in 2016. Arnaout and his family take over ownership of the successful and acclaimed Hunter Valley winery, vineyard and brand from James Kirby, who has successfully owned the brand since 2002.

New Zealanders remain eligible for WET rebate
New Zealand wine makers will still be able to claim the WET rebate under these reforms, to the chagrin of many Australian winemakers. But the changes will mean fewer Kiwis are eligible for the rebate, and none will have access to the new wine tourism and cellar door grant, which is available to eligible Australians who exceed the rebate cap of $350,000. "A lot of the wine that's coming into Australia from New Zealand actually is currently coming in in bulk, and that won't be eligible," Senator Ruston said. "There will be a significant number of people from New Zealand who are currently claiming the rebate who will no longer be able to."

Pinot Noir NZ announces impressive culinary program
With just 60 days until New Zealand’s most significant wine event - Pinot Noir NZ 2017, the lid has been lifted on an all-star line-up of kiwi chefs putting food on the table alongside world class New Zealand wines. Pinot Noir NZ happens just once every four years, and brings together the wines, people and places that benchmark New Zealand Pinot Noir. There will be 117 wineries bringing over 600 wines to 600 visionaries, industry leaders, influencers and lovers of Pinot Noir.

You need to have flexibility in your vineyard
Vineyards represent a great deal of work. Planning, pruning, canopy management, spraying, — all require people, time, and energy. The fashion with which these tasks are completed can be very different between a one-person operation with half an acre versus a team of people taking care of a 100-acre vineyard. However, in both these situations it can be difficult to get the work completed within a given time frame. Vineyard tasks are seasonal by nature. Late winter and spring are times for most of the canopy management jobs and autumn brings harvest season. During these busy periods in the spring and fall there are often more tasks than available time. It’s critical for a manager to prioritise duties to maximise the benefit to the operation with limited resources.

Climate change could turn Britain into major producer
Warmer temperatures in the U.K. due to man-made climate change could make the country a leading wine producer by the end of the century, according to new research. The study, commissioned by the company Laithwaite’s Wine, evaluated how rain and temperature conditions are expected to change by 2100. The study shows that conditions in central and eastern England may be ideal for Sauvignon Blanc while Scotland could produce Pinot Grigio. Britain already has a successful wine industry, with over 500 vineyards producing, among others, globally celebrated sparkling wines. But climate change could make higher elevations suitable for wine production.

Harvest report: Piedmont starts late but ends strong
Unlike other parts of Italy and northern Europe, the 2016 growing season in Piedmont was mostly dry and warm, with enough rain at the right times and ideal conditions for the region’s most important grape, Nebbiolo. Some vintners are comparing it to 2004, others to 2001, both excellent vintages. Overall, conditions were dry, but there was no drought pressure like in 2007 or 2003, and peak temperatures during the summer months did not spike as they did in 2015 or 2005, according to Giovanni Pasquero Elia, proprietor of Paitin in Neive. “All the grape [varieties] seem more consistent in quality than 2015, with less alcohol and better acidity,” he noted. “It reminds me of 1982, my first harvest.”

Oregon wines nab top spots on Wine Spectator list
Two of the top three wines of the year, as ranked by Wine Spectator magazine, come from Willamette Valley wineries. Domaine Serene's Dundee Hills Evenstad Reserve 2014 Chardonnay ranked second on Wine Spectator's yearly Top 100 list; Beaux Frères’ 2014 Pinot Noir followed as the third best of 2016. The top spot went to Napa Valley's Lewis 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine Spectator tastes more than 18,000 wines in a blind test to choose its Top 100. The full list will be released December 5. Domaine Serene's reserve is the first Oregon Chardonnay to make the Top 10. The state's wine makers have long been praised for their Pinot Noir.

Q&A with award winning vineyard manager
With more than a quarter century of scientific, technical and field experience in wine grape irrigation, Mark Greenspan is considered one of the world’s go-to consultants. Greenspan started Advanced Viticulture in 2005 and is its president and viticulturist. It’s small for a North Coast vineyard management company, farming about 180 acres for 20 clients. Yet the company has a much wider impact, consulting on hundreds more acres. The firm provides technical services for more than 30 regular clients and custom work for a number of others.

McLaren Vale grapes available
McLaren Vale grapes available: Shiraz, Mataro, Viognier, Marsanne & Cabernet Sauvignon All enquiries welcome email: [email protected] or phone: 04110 78332

When succession planning for wineries and vineyards, seek expert help
When considering succession planning for wineries and vineyards, it makes sense to consult a lawyer who fully understands the industry, so owners’ will and estate arrangements reflect the practical realities of transferring the business.

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