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News posted on Thursday, 9 April 2015

April 2015 Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine out now
The April 2015 issue of the Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine is out now – and is available online for all subscribers. The annual Top 20 countdown of Australian wine companies is featured this month in a special report written by freelance wine writer, Jeni Port. The April issue also looks at the latest in pruning; trellising and training as well as fertilisers and nutrition. We also feature an in-depth look at winemakers transitioning into the spirit industry, with several local distillery owners sharing their opinions.

Growers struggle to survive with falling grape prices
After years of low prices and spiralling debts, some of Australia's oldest grape growers are giving up. They say the price setting of the wineries is sending them broke and things must change. Some of Australia's oldest grape growers are pulling up their vines and scaling back after years of low prices and spiralling debts. In South Australia's Riverland, growers say that the cards are stacked against them and they want help competing against the big wineries. But as Alex Mann reports, even their own association thinks it may be best to give up the fight.

Quality grapes but few buyers in Coonawarra
As grape harvest nears its end in the Coonawarra region of South Australia, some growers are struggling to sell their fruit at a profit. The south east region is renowned for its Cabernet Sauvignon but Rob Mason, who manages a number of vineyards in Coonawarra and Wrattonbully, said even the popular grapes were difficult to move. Mason aims to secure fixed price contracts with wineries, but where that was not possible he was forced to accept any offer on the table.

Wirra Wirra buys Adelaide Hills star
McLaren Vale producer Wirra Wirra has stepped up its interest in the Adelaide Hills by acquiring highly regarded Pinot Noir producer Ashton Hills. Covering just three hectares of vineyard 570 metres up in the Piccadilly Valley, Ashton Hills was founded in 1982 by Stephen George, whose other interests include several decades as consulting winemaker for big name Clare Valley estate Wendouree.

NZ shop gets physical via crowdfunding
Online outlet The New Zealand Cellar has turned to crowdfunding in a bid to raise £35,000 (A$67,700) within just two weeks to enable the launch of its first shop. Established last year, the New Zealand wine specialist currently offers 200 wines from 72 producers to its customer base across the UK and Europe. Now founder Melanie Brown is looking to develop her business further by transforming an empty retail space in Brixton, south London, into a physical outlet for this portfolio.

University seeing first fruits of vine experiment
In a country known for its white wines, one New Zealand college is trying to grow against the grain. A team of professors and students from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) are in the first round of harvesting several new cold-weather reds, an anomaly in the land of Sauvignon Blanc. “The new plantings over the past three years have mainly been focused on trialing different cool climate reds,” the university said in a press released published by news site Scoop.

Bibendum PLB stengthens play for UK
The UK drinks trade needs to consolidate if it is to keep pace with where the industry is heading, according to Bibendum PLB Group’s CEO – who last year oversaw one of the largest ever mergers in the UK drinks trade. Bibendum and PLB Group announced in October its plan to merge, bringing together five trading companies; existing Bibendum trading arms The Wondering Wine Company and Instil Drinks Company, PLB, including its beer division, and Walker and Wodehouse Wines.

Bordeaux has abused the market, says Moueix
The annual debate over the pricing for the en primeur campaign has one negociant slapping his leg in frustration at his fellow producers. A number of Bordeaux estate owners have already indicated that they will be setting prices for the upcoming 2014 campaign at 2012 levels but that is a huge mistake, according to one of the region's leading players. During Bordeaux's annual en primeur tasting week, the director of Château Palmer announced the estate would be setting prices at 2012 levels.

Washington grapegrowers dodge spring frosts
Wine grape growers across Washington’s Columbia Valley are on high alert as baby leaves are emerging from their winter slumber that are being threatened by spring frosts. Bud break – the first sign of the new growing season – is 10 to 14 days early. While that bodes well for getting the vintage off to a good start, it also leaves the young leaves vulnerable to temperatures that have dropped below freezing a few times in the past week. “There’s been a little bit of frost in spots,” said Dick Boushey.

India's wine industry sees high days ahead
PUNE: India's homegrown wine industry sees a strong second wave of growth on the horizon. Industry leader Sula, which added 250 acres of vineyards last year through contract farming, plans to add another 400 next year. Damage caused by unseasonal rain to table grapes helped the wine industry increase production of port wine while the liquor ban in Kerala, which has already resulted in a three-fold increase in wine sales, is expected to give a major boost to the industry.

Senator Nick Xenophon proposes 5c a bottle levy to support SA’s struggling grapegrowers
AUSTRALIAN wine drinkers would pay up to 25 cents extra a bottle to help struggling grape growers and get the wine industry back on track, under a radical proposal by independent Senator Nick Xenophon. A temporary consumer levy would raise at least $100 million to help wine-grape growers who are failing to break even. The wine industry is suffering from a longstanding oversupply of grapes and a lack of funding to take on international competitors in key overseas markets.

Battle to produce Australia’s most expensive wine
Australia might witness a very unusual price war before long — a tussle to be the nation’s most expensive wine. The Barossa Valley’s Henschke family have decided they want their iconic Hill of Grace Shiraz, generally regarded as the second best Australian wine, to sell at a higher price point than Treasury Wine Estate’s Penfolds Grange, and thus become seen as Australia’s best. How Treasury CEO Michael Clarke and his team would respond to this is not clear: a company spokesman declined to comment yesterday, but there’s not much doubt they would respond.


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