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News posted on Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Adelaide Hills farmers defend livestock, vineyards and orchards from bushfires
A fire burning at Samson Flat in the Adelaide Hills has caused extensive damage to vineyards, orchards and livestock. "When you see something so catastrophic in nature unfold before you, no amount of preparation can get you ready for what we saw." The South Australian government has declared the area a disaster zone, and the Insurance Council of Australia has declared the fire a catastrophe. Paul Clark, Kersbrook Hill Wines managing director, slept at his winery's cellar door on Friday night when the fire became out of control, waking up every hour to check on his property.

Australian wine code change to benefit growers and wineries this vintage
The national Wine Industry Code of Conduct has been revised to improve how winegrape price disputes are resolved. Developed jointly by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) and Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) in 2008, the updated code comes into force in time for the upcoming 2015 harvest. Paul Evans, WFA chief executive, said disagreements arose in some transactions between winemakers and winegrape growers from time to time and having disputation procedures in the code was a business safeguard for both parties.

Earlier grape harvest predicted by Barossa winemaker as grapes ripen sooner than usual
A South Australian winemaker is predicting his earliest harvest ever as his grapes are ripening weeks earlier than usual. Rick Burge, owner and director of Burge Family Wines in the Barossa, says moderate temperatures are needed for the rest of the vintage to maintain quality. He says veraison normally begins towards the end of January, but this year started around New Year's Day.

Why Australians are using sunblock to protect grape crops
Slip, slop, slap. It was a cartoon seagull wearing shorts, t-shirt and a hat that famously urged sun-loving Australians in the 1980s to protect themselves from damaging ultraviolet rays. While sunblock has shielded generations from harm, it is also being used to safeguard the health and vitality of Australian grapes as the nation reflects on another scorching year when temperature records continued to tumble.

Resveratrol…Not for heart health but to preserve wine in cans
Barokes Wines has applied to patent a process whereby beverage containers are coated with a layer including resveratrol – not to boost heart health but to better preserve wine. The company’s International Patent Application claims that glass holds a number of drawbacks as a packaging medium for beverages – including its weight, durability and its less than optimum recycling ability.

Wine industry toasts growing profitability
The New Zealand wine industry appears in good heart as increased profitability drives industry-wide optimism. The Deloitte Vintage 2014 survey tracked the financial results of wineries accounting for more than 40 per cent of the industry's export sales revenue for the 2014 financial year. For the first time since 2007, every category showed profitability before tax, ranging from 3.3 per cent to 17.6 per cent, Peter Felstead, Deloitte partner, said.

Here's the skinny on low-calorie wines
Brancott Estate’s low-calorie wine, Flight Song, has been on liquor shelves, courting calorie counters, for less than a year. It took more than 10 years to get it there. The New Zealand wine producer spent almost a decade researching how to best make low-calorie wine. Another three years went into harvesting and testing the varieties in the vineyard. The wine, which is 20 per cent lighter in calories than standard, is part of a growing trend to market low-calorie wines to a mostly female, Millennial crowd.

David Thatcher to replace Simon McMurtrie in Direct Wines role
Simon McMurtrie, Direct Wines group chief executive, is stepping down later this month to act as chairman for a number of businesses, with current UK managing director David Thatcher replacing him. Thatcher joined the group in April 2014, and will take over the role in January 19, 2015. Thatcher has worked across the media and retail industries for the past 30 years, including at senior levels at Sky, Virgin Media and as chief executive of Talk Talk and managing director of Top Up TV.

Chilean wine ‘riding a wave’ in China as import tariffs abolished
Chile will become the second country to have seen import tariffs on its wines abolished in mainland China, in a move that importers and retailers expect will maintain strong sales momentum – even retail prices are unlikely to fall significantly. China has gradually cut tariffs on bottled Chilean wine from 14 per cent to just 1.6 per cent since the two countries signed a free trade agreement in 2005. In 2015, tariffs will be abolished for both bottled and bulk wine imports from the South American country, as they were for New Zealand in 2012.

A South African wine revolution in Swartland
There's a revolution happening in South Africa's winelands where a handful of young impassioned friends are turning their backs on the very practices that have made the country's wine industry such a success. Not for them the standard locales that make up the wine tours of the region: Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Constantia — big farms with big production of big, fruity wines, all on Cape Town's doorstep. The new land of conquest is drier, healthier. The vines are thirsty for moisture and the farms empty of tourist buses. This is Swartland — the "black country," about 100 kilometres, or an hour's drive inland, north of Cape Town.

Italy’s wine production seen falling 14% after rainy summer
Italy’s wine output probably dropped 14 per cent this year after a rainy summer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s attache in Rome said, citing estimates from the Italian Association of Enologists. Production will drop to 41.6 million hectoliters, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service said. “Unfavorable weather conditions” were blamed as Sicily’s output declined 30 per cent. Italy’s own wine consumption has been falling “for decades,” partly due to anti-alcohol drinking campaigns, the Rome attache said.

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