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News posted on Thursday, 12 January 2017

Cellar door experience helps boost sales for small wineries
Small winemaking businesses generated $1 billion in wine sales revenue in 2015-16, an average increase of 12%, Wine Australia figures show. While retailers and wholesalers generated 47% of income, cellar doors have become increasingly important sales channels, accounting for 27% of revenue. With food and wine tourism on the rise, many small wineries are now also attracting consumers to their region via on-site restaurants, cafes, tours and boutique accommodation, in addition to the traditional cellar door. Garry Sweeney, owner of Mount Lofty Ranges Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills (pictured), said his business has benefited from a strong cellar door focus.

Sustainable practices make good wine at Mudgee
A rare breed of sheep has been integral to the branding and sustainability of Short Sheep Micro-Winery. Owners and winemakers Sue Ridler and Tony Shadbolt purchased a block of land in 2001 and established the 4ha vineyard the following year, producing their first fruit in 2004. Initially they continued to live and work in Sydney and grew grapes and sold them to other winemakers, but in 2013 — when there was no value in selling the grapes — they made the decision to move and make their own wine rather than the other option of pulling out the vines.

Australia’s Chateau Tanunda Revamps U.S. Operations
The Australian winery Chateau Tanunda has announced a ground-up restructuring of its U.S. operations. This includes setting up a joint-partnership import company and hiring a U.S.-based representative to manage marketing and distribution. “This enables us to respond quickly to an ever-changing marketplace and offer significant cost benefits to our distributors,” says winery owner John Geber. “Whilst Shiraz is the Barossa’s traditional calling card, at Château Tanunda we also believe in the world-class potential of Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Austrade gets cautious after Ponzi Scandal in India
Austrade had launched in February 2016 last year what the federal government said would be a detailed ­investigation into the agency’s promoting of the now collapsed A$10 billion Pearls Group scam, ­despite Indian authorities having been investigating it for more than a decade. Funded by the government, Austrade says it conducted no due diligence on any of the Australian companies it promoted overseas, or on the foreign companies it pushed to local businesses.

McWilliams’s launches cny personalized wine labels
In the run up to the Year of the Rooster, McWilliam’s Wines has teamed up with Park N Shop to design personalized wine labels with any purchase of two McWilliam’s wines. In the lead up to Chinese New Year which this year officially starts on 28 January, wine companies often cash in on the gift giving traditions with the wildly popular Penfolds recently releasing a limited edition ‘Rooster’ bottle, in honour of its former chief winemaker, Max Schubert and Massimo Ferragamo launching his top end wine, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2010 Zodiac Rooster from Castiglion del Bosco in Tuscany.

New Zealand Annual Tasting coming to London
Following on from a successful 2016 when New Zealand (along with Argentina) topped the UK growth charts, the country is now keen to develop its presence in the UK market at its the annual trade tasting in London next week. New Zealand has managed to buck the trend of decline in the overall UK wine market thanks in part to the success of Sauvignon blanc, but now the country is keen to stress the diversity of its regions and grape varieties.

Pinot Noir NZ 2017 attracts global leaders to Wellington
An astounding selection of global wine imbibers and influencers will descend on the nation’s capital this month for New Zealand’s most significant wine event, Pinot Noir NZ 2017. The sold out event includes a line-up of 30 speakers from Japan, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand, who are tasked with sparking thought-provoking discussions among 600 Pinot Noir lovers from 20 different countries. Spearheading the line-up are the world’s most influential wine writer Jancis Robinson OBE, MW, the world’s only Master of Wine and Sake Ken Ohashi, and Tool frontman and winery owner Maynard James Keenan.

Moldovans revealed as the biggest drinkers in the world
Brits may have a reputation for liking a tipple but they’re actually only the 17th booziest nation in the world, pipped to the top rankings by drinkers in a number of Eastern European countries. Moldovans are the world’s heaviest drinkers consuming the equivalent of 178 bottles of wine per person per year, shocking health data has revealed. And while Australians are the tenth most excessive drinkers, the United States doesn't even make the top 20, according to a fascinating new interactive map plotting alcohol consumption worldwide.

The multinational naturalistas
Like it or not (battalions to both sides, no man’s land between), the major wine development of the century so far has been the move towards ‘natural’ wine. Shortly before Christmas, I got together with Eric Narioo and Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene, the British wine importer more closely associated with this groundswell than any other, to discuss that – and Les Caves’ strange success. Not only has it evaded the clutches of the VAT man, but Wregg and Narioo seem to have created a weird new business model based principally on “the journey”.

Majestic Wine goes from £4m losses to record Christmas
Alcohol retail giant Majestic Wine has successfully navigated last year’s financial storm and posted its best ever Christmas trading period. Majestic’s turnaround plan has proven successful, posting like-for-like sales growth of 7.5 per cent in the 10 weeks to January 2, and a sales rise of 12.4 per cent on last year.The retailer now says it’s on track to meet its full year expectations and has embarked on a three-year turnaround plan, just months after reporting a £4.4 million loss in its half-year results.

South Africa’s first black, female winemaker goes solo
In a country in which wine making is still predominantly a white, largely male profession, South Africa’s first black woman winemaker, Ntsiki Biyela, is a pioneer: her latest achievement, the creation of her own brand, Aslina. Biyela is no novice to wine making, having brought accolades to red wine producer Stellekaya for the past 13 years. But forging her own self-funded venture and uplifting others is her ultimate prize. Unless you really know South Africa, it would be difficult to understand the remarkability of Biyela’s journey. She grew up in Mahlabathini, a small rural village in Kwazulu-Natal, about 800 miles from South Africa’s Western Cape Winelands.

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WID 2017