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News posted on Monday, 9 January 2017

Virtual vineyard gate aims to keep grape pests out
Software initially developed to safeguard the Canadian poultry industry is being trialled by Australian wineries to help keep pests and diseases out of premium vineyards. The vineyard cyber monitoring system known as Project Boundary Rider has been designed by Canadian company Be Seen Be Safe to keep South Australia’s $1.78 billion wine industry free of devastating pests and diseases such as phylloxera and Pierce’s disease. Vinehealth Australia, based in South Australia’s capital of Adelaide, is overseeing the project and has begun a six-month trial at 30 vineyards in the renowned Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale wine regions. It will include the busy vintage period, which runs from February to April, when vineyards and wineries are susceptible to pests and disease partly due to high traffic volumes in and out of properties.

Australian Biodynamic Wines Paxton Comes to Guangzhou
Paxton, an Australian biodynamic wine company, has officially launched in Guangzhou. Established in 1979, Paxton is a family owned McLaren Vale wine company. Founder and owner, David Paxton is one of Australia’s most highly respected viticulturists – a reputation built on managing and growing wine grapes of exceptional quality for over 37 years. In 2004, David Paxton, under the inspiration of Rufolf Steiner’s philosophies, made the decision to convert the estate to organic and biodynamic farming principles because he felt chemicals were slowly destroying his vineyards health. David Paxton then set out on a healthy vines make better wines mission to ensure the best quality beverage.

What makes a great wine festival?
It was intended as a celebration of biodynamic wines; those otherworldly in scope, made according to lunar rhythms and something aligned with what practitioners like to call “the cosmos”. The man and his wife had booked into all four sessions on the day of the Return To Terroir biodynamic wine tasting, a regular marquee event of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. By the third session, it was clear he was not going to see a fourth. Too much wine had been consumed and he was asked to leave. “The man became upset,” recalls Natalie O’Brien, CEO of the festival. “He said it wasn’t made clear to him when he booked that he should be spitting the wine out.”

Branching out secures future in wine industry
The Smibert family at Coonawarra can see a positive future in the wine industry and are making their own luck. After buying a vineyard in the famous South East wine region a decade ago, the family plugged away as grape growers and sold their product to wine companies. Disenchanted with grape prices and quality judgments made by buyers, Brian said the family decided to embark on a new path four years ago. Brian and Jennifer’s son Angus, who holds an international business degree, came up with the idea to establish their own label – Whistle Post.

FTA boosting exports to Korea
The start of 2017 saw two thirds of New Zealand’s exports to Korea become duty free, up from 46% in 2016. Trade Minister Todd McClay says more local food businesses looking to expand into Korea will benefit from the latest round of tariff reductions under the New Zealand-Korea Free Trade Agreement, signed December 2015. New Zealand has experienced strong results particularly in the food and beverage sector where exports to Korea have increased by over 16%. While New Zealand is ranked as Korea’s 10th-largest wine importer, we are emerging as a source of high quality wine among early adopters in the market.

New head winemaker at La Crema winery
La Crema winery in Windsor, which was purchased by Santa-Rosa’s Jackson Family Wines in 1993, has announced the promotion of Craig McAllister to the position of head winemaker. McAllister joined La Crema as the harvest enologist in 2007. Announcing the move, the winery stated McAllister helped to further develop La Crema’s collection of single vineyard chardonnay and pinot noir wines in his most recent post as associate winemaker. McAllister has also made wine for Wild Ridge, crafting pinot noir from vineyards on the rugged Sonoma Coast.

The Wine Stories That Will Shape 2017
This coming era is going to be crazy and sometimes painful. I’m talking politics, but our cultural choices, including wine, are at an inflection point, too. Drinking is often a political act, even when we don’t intend it to be, and today we face more complexity than ever: How natural is natural wine? What farming is actually sustainable, and what’s just lip service? Am I giving my money to a small producer or to a big company? Are we elevating once-obscure places, or just shoving them into the crush of globalism?

Wine Stories: Mexico’s Wine Renaissance
The Mexican wine industry is simultaneously the birthplace of North American wine and its newest frontier. It boasts the oldest winery in the New World and it is one of the largest growers of grapes in the Americas, but paradoxically makes only a tiny 20 million liters of wine a year. By comparison, the United States produces three billion liters. Mexico has over 100,000 acres of vineyards, but most of these are devoted to brandy production. Mexico, incidentally, is the third largest producer of brandy in the world. The origins of Mexico’s wine industry go back to 1521 and the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire.

It's wine o'clock but there's a shortage
Dire predictions of future wine shortages make for good copy. The media needs a constant stream of stories and tales of hailstorms, late frosts, flooding and other random acts of nature help fill pages, online and off. A year or so ago, it was northeast Italy. I certainly haven’t noticed a great Prosecco shortage in our wine bars, or any massive price increases. If anything the opposite seems the case. As well as providing news, such scaremongering may help producers push their prices up a little. Generally I ignore these tales of alarm.

Falcons, Drones, Data: A Winery Battles Climate Change
On a misty autumn morning in Sonoma County, Calif., Katie Jackson headed into the vineyards to assess the harvest. It was late in the season, and an army of field workers was rushing to pick the grapes before the first rains, however faint, began falling. But on this day, Ms. Jackson, the vice president for sustainability and external affairs at Jackson Family Wines, was not just minding the usual haul of cabernet, chardonnay and merlot grapes. She also checked on the sophisticated network of systems she had put in place to help crops adapt to a changing climate.

Australia Day to put sparkling red trend to the test
After Bibendum predicted that red would be the next chapter in the ‘alternative sparkling’ story in December through analysis of its Mode data analysis tool, Wine Australia is set to present a selection of Aussie sparkling Shiraz from producers such as Dowie Doole, Gatt Wines, Peter Lehmann, Taltarni and Turkey Flat. The marketing body will invite attendees to share their thoughts on the wines and trend predictions via Twitter using the hashtag #ADTwine. As many as 1,100 wines will be available to taste at the Australia Day Tasting at Victoria House in London on 24 January, giving trade members the chance to assess not just the likelihood of a sparkling red trend, but also to explore other hot topics such as alternative grape varieties and the growing demand for premium wines.

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