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News posted on Friday, 13 February 2015

Mixed fortunes for Granite Belt grapegrowers
There has been rain, hail and shine for wine grape growers on the Granite Belt this summer. The main grape harvest in the southern Queensland wine growing region is just about to start. Australian Grape and Wine Authority director Ian Henderson said many vineyards were looking good but yield and quality would be a mixed bag. "I think this has been one of the most mixed and varied seasons for such a long time, we've had rain to extreme and then lack of rain all in the same region," Mr Henderson said. "We also have growers virtually wiped out by hail and there's some people who have some absolutely stunning grapes."

Water flows to Riverland properties as exit grant conditions expire
The end of irrigation moratoriums throughout the Murray-Darling Basin has the potential to boost economic development in regions that have struggled since the drought, according to Regional Development Australia. Nearly 300 growers in the Murray-Darling Basin took Small Block Irrigator Exit Grants at the height of the drought in 2009. They were paid $150,000 to walk away from their crops and were banned from irrigating the land for five years. As growers moved away, they left a patchwork of unsightly properties many of which became havens for pests and weeds.

Wine Australia aiming to champion fine wine
Wine Australia is ramping up its focus on the UK and particularly retailers that champion fine wine, according to the generic body’s new general manager. Stuart Barclay, who previously worked at Wine Rack and Thresher before moving Down Under, told OLN: “The UK is looking very interesting again from an Australian perspective. It is our biggest market and is a trading hub, more so than in the past. We want to do more in this market. It’s strategically important to us. It sends a message to Europe as well.

Australia’s top drops announced at Sydney wine show
Yabby Lake Vineyard of the Mornington Peninsula has taken out top honours at the 2015 Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine Show, with its 2013 Single Vineyard Block Release Block 2 Pinot Noir winning the coveted Macquarie Group Perpetual Trophy best wine of show. The award follows a successful year for the vineyard, with its Pinot Noir taking home an additional five trophies, including the celebrated Fine Wine Partners Perpetual Trophy and the Champion Wine of the Show at the 2014 National Wine Show. A total of 34 trophies and 1,153 Sydney Royal medals were awarded to entrants, which came from a pool of 2,330 entries.

Red wine and chocolate, perfect for Valentine's Day and your health?
Flowers, chocolate and wine are all staples of Valentine's Day and recent studies are shedding light on the positive health benefits of the fancy confection and vino. But before you go running to grab boxes of chocolate and red wine off shelves, there are some caveats to these studies. One thing that all studies agree on is the potential power of resveratrol. Whenever you hear about how red wine is "heart healthy" or reduces cholesterol, chances are the study is looking at the benefits of resveratrol. Red wine and antioxidants found in red grapes could increase high-density lipoprotein, "good" cholesterol, and lower low-density lipoprotein, "bad" cholesterol, and could prevent blood clots, according to the Mayo Clinic. Resveratrol also could help protect against obesity and diabetes.

Kiwi company invents tiny cleansing 'sponges'
Businessman Sir James Wallace is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Waikato tech company, he believes has massive potential for New Zealand. The company, called Ligar, has developed a molecular process that extracts the bad stuff from things like contaminated water and smoke-tainted wine. In a small lab in Hamilton scientists have pioneered a technology they hope will soon be used in industries around the world, from mining to food. What looks like black powder is actually thousands of tiny polymers - specially designed molecules that can filter out good and bad particles.

Sheep help make NZ winery's grapes taste so good
A New Zealand winery, called Brancott Estate Wines, hired a group of 1,900 sheep to hang out in the vines every summer, reported Country Living. The "wooly workers" pluck leaves from the vine canopy to uncover the grapes on the vine, exposing them to sunlight. By doing this, they are enhancing the wine's taste, as pinot noir grapes produce the best flavors when paired with extra sunlight. "You'd be forgiven for thinking we're pulling the wool over your eyes," Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker at Brancott Estate, said in a pun-filled press release. "But sheep play a vital role in preparing the vineyards for harvest."

Wine shipments face delays as California port dispute escalates
Wine shipments in and out of California face further delays as the labour dispute between port workers and their employers steps up a gear with vessel operations suspended over the upcoming long weekend. The Pacific Maritime Association has said it will suspend vessel operations over Presidents’ Day weekend at ports along the West Coast in the US as it refuses to pay enhanced holiday rates to employees who are not working at full capacity. The dispute, which has been going on since last summer, is between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and PMA over renegotiated contracts.

China weighs on French wine and spirits exports
A decline in French wines and spirits exports worsened last year as China's clampdown on extravagant spending capped demand for pricy cognacs and Bordeaux wines, but producers said they banked on a weak euro to help stabilize exports this year. Shipments of French wines and spirits abroad fell 2.8 per cent to 10.8 billion euros in 2014, hurt by a 17.4 per cent fall in sales to China, the sector's federation FEVS said on Wednesday. "The year 2014 reflects the anti-ostentatious spending policy that started in 2013 in China, and whose impact was fully felt (in 2014)," FEVS said in a statement.

Global warming and wine
It has often been argued that global climate change is affecting the less fortunate more than the wealthy. Having money can insulate people from such problems as rising food prices and flooding in coastal areas. Apart from that, much wealth is generated by industries that contribute to global warming as opposed to combating it. That being said, one effect of climate change that is attracting the attention of even the super-rich is its impact on winegrapes. Rising temperatures in areas like France, Italy and Spain are affecting the flavour of certain wines. What is happening is that certain grape varieties such as Pinot Noir are growing more quickly than before.

N.J. wineries open their doors for Wine and Chocolate Trail Weekend
Three years ago, Megan Chamberlain would spend entire days at work without a single customer coming in to the Coda Rossa Winery in Franklin Township. "Now, it's nice and steady," said Chamberlain, who coordinates events for the winery. "We're just trying to spread the word about how the industry is growing." Sunday's instalment of Wine and Chocolate Trail Weekend, organized by the Garden State Wine Growers Association, was part of a state-wide event that invites patrons to visit dozens of vineyards from Sussex County to Cape May. Visitors can come in to sample chocolates and hors d'oeuvres paired specially for the wines their local vintners are producing, just in time for Valentine's Day.

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