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News posted on Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Tax wine as beer and raise $2.9 billion per year, says lobby group
Taxing wine and cider the same as beer and lifting the rate by 5 to 6¢ for a glass of beer would raise $2.9 billion a year, much of which could fund tax relief, the Treasury has been told. In its pre-budget submission, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education says if the Turnbull government adopted the recommendation of the Henry tax review and taxed all alcohol products by the volume of alcohol they contained, alcohol consumption would drop almost 10 per cent.

Bumper harvest for Granite Belt has winemakers salivating
Grapegrowers and winemakers on Queensland's Granite Belt say this year's harvest will be the best in decades. It is a dramatic turnaround on last year's pickings when many crops were decimated by severe storms. "Our fingers have just come uncrossed now," Sam Costanzo of Golden Grove Estate said. "We've got a fantastic crop out here."

Sydney Royal Wine Show changes to benefit industry
As entries draw to a close for the Sydney Royal Wine Show, the event has announced two major changes this year, with KPMG pouring in its support as the new major sponsor, while the show will be held in July for the first time. Samantha Connew, chair of Judges, said she was not only thrilled about the new sponsor but was encouraged by the show’s demand and expected to see entries reach capacity once again. “For the first time, we’re judging wine at Sydney Royal in July, which is very exciting,” Connew said.

Chinese wine industry keen to challenge perceptions at Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
It is not a region synonymous with fine wine, but producers from China are making their mark on the industry. Judy Chan is the chief executive of Grace Vineyard wines, an internationally award-winning vineyard established in the Shanxi province in 1997. "Back then most of the wine produced in China was mainly for the mass market," she said.

Assyrtiko finds a home in Oz
On holiday with family in the Greek Islands in 2007, Peter Barry became enchanted with the crisp, minerally white wine they were served as a house wine with almost every meal. On Santorini he learned it was Assyrtiko. The owner of Jim Barry Wines decided to plant some in his own vineyards in Clare, in South Australia. "I'm looking for something to stand up to heat," says Barry, who is concerned that climate change might make his current white wines lose their zip and flavor if they ripen too early.

Sacred Hill announces continued sponsorship of HK Rugby Sevens
The New Zealand wine brand, Sacred Hill has announced its on-going support and sponsorship of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, alongside its Hong Kong distributor, Jebsen Fine Wines. Now in its 11th year, Sacred Hill’s continues to sponsor the infamous Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Rugby Sevens series, this year taking place between 8-10 April.

Hawke's Bay locals 'united' over wine
NOT ONLY is Hawke's Bay one of New Zealand's oldest wine regions, it also has a "great wine community", says one local winemaker. Rod McDonald came to the region in 1993, and worked at Vidal Estate where he was awarded 2006 New Zealand Winemaker of the year before he left and started Rod McDonald Wines. He is the chairman at Hawke's Bay A&P Wine Awards and had been chairman of the Hawke's Bay Winegrowers Association for six years.

American wine drinkers cut back on butter
Fewer people are ordering big, brash Chardonnays – at least that's what somms are saying. America's love affair with buttery Chardonnay in restaurants may finally be waning, according to the latest Wine & Spirits Restaurant Poll. Chardonnay is still easily America's favorite wine in retail sales, according to Nielsen. And the number one winery on this year's Restaurant Poll, Cakebread, is best known for its Chardonnay, while second-placed Jordan makes only a Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Italy’s famed wine region a war zone
GAIOLE IN CHIANTI, Italy — Fences are rising. There is talk of a brutal and destructive insurgency, invasions and a slaughter that could include hundreds of thousands in the years ahead. If that sounds something like a war, the battlefield is the prized vineyards of Chianti, Italy’s vaunted wine region in the heart of the rolling hills of Tuscany.

U.C. researchers find vector for Red Blotch in grapes
University of California researchers recently confirmed a vector responsible for red blotch virus in grapes. Brian Bahder, a UC Davis Entomology post-doc, and Frank Zalom, a UC Davis Entomology Professor, made the exciting revelation during a recent webinar: they confirmed the three-cornered alfalfa treehopper (Spissistilus festinus) as able to transmit Red Blotch Associated Virus (RBaV) to grapevines in greenhouse tests. Their discovery is the first confirmation of a vector for RBaV.

US wine drinkers need to branch out
Genetic diversity in the variety of fruits and vegetables we consume does not just expand the palate but protects plants from succumbing to attack from pests and diseases. For instance, the vast majority of Americans buy one single variety of bananas, Cavendish. This banana is highly susceptible to the new strain of the fungal Panama Disease, Tropical Race-4, that threatens our future banana supply.

WFA rejects FARE’s tax bid
The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia has again rejected the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education’s (FARE’s) call to increase wine taxes. Federation Chief Executive Paul Evans said FARE’s claims come around like a broken record and are based on incomplete analysis on the impact a tax hike would have on regional communities. “Not only is Australian wine heavily taxed already when compared to our global competitors, in fact we are among the highest taxed in the world today, but the tax rates reflect that alcohol industries are not all the same and this continues to be missed by health lobbyists like FARE."

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