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News posted on Friday, 13 March 2015

Communication and competition on WineTech’s agenda
Maintaining competitiveness in the retail environment will be on the agenda in Adelaide, at WineTech 2015 in July. Hosting two seminars on July 14, Wine Communicators of Australia (WCA) plan to focus on some of the options and opportunities available to wine businesses. As well as looking at what can be learned from the experiences and responses of other sectors of the food, beverage and agriculture industries, WCA will explore the growth of online retail sites and the unrelenting slashed prices that come with it.

WA vigneron gets a second flush of fruit from hail damaged vines
A Western Australian grape grower has been able to get a second crop of fruit, after a hail storm wiped out most of his vineyard. "The hail itself is what I class as severe. All the green foliage was fully defoliated," said Rod Hallett of Alkoomi Wines in Frankland River, 320 kilometres south-east of Perth. After some quick thinking and heavy pruning Hallett said he was thrilled to see some crop return, after 90 per cent of his vineyard was essentially wiped out.

Melbourne's credentials as great wine capital upheld
Melbourne used to be one of the Great Wine Capitals of the World: the network – club if you like – of wine-centric cities, established in 1996 by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce. Its members now include Bilbao (for Rioja in Spain), Cape Town (for the Cape Winelands of South Africa), Mainz (for the Rheinhessen), Porto (for the Douro in Portugal), San Francisco (for the Napa Valley in the US), Valparaiso (for the Casablanca Valley in Chile), Mendoza (Argentina), and the aforementioned Bordeaux.

Canberra wine growers and makers hail bumper grape season
Grapegrowers and winemakers in the Canberra district are hailing a bumper 2015 season, following what have been described by many as the best growing conditions in years. This year grape quality and crop volumes are excellent, according to premium Shiraz grapegrower Brian Binning from Yass. The harvest can be a lottery, but Binning said things were shaping up well for one of the best years on record. "It's very good harvest - the best we've had since we grafted our vines over to Shiraz," he said.

AGWA calls for non-executive directors
The Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) are seeking applicants for non-executive directors to join their board for a part-time term of up to three years. As the current term for each of AGWA’s seven non-executive directors nears its end, a spokesperson for the industry body said they are interested in hearing from applicants who come from a variety of career backgrounds. Supporting the national wine sector by investing in research and development, growing global demand and protecting the reputation of Australian wine, AGWA is funded by grapegrowers, winemakers and wine exporters as well as the Australian Government.

Wine helps to boost Marlborough's GDP by $213m
Marlborough's gross domestic product has increased by $213 million, thanks to the region's thriving wine industry. The latest figures from Statistics New Zealand show the region's GDP increased from $2.069 billion to $2.282b in the year ending March 2014 - the third-highest increase in the country. Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said the figures showed the region benefited when the wine sector performed well and showed profitable growth.

Wine bottling 'great business'
Morley Hewitt has loved ''every minute'' of his involvement with the Central Otago wine industry. Hewitt is managing director of VinPro, a company which had its origins as a humble mobile bottling plant. Over the past 20 years, it has grown to be one of the larger employers in Cromwell and now does the bottling for the majority of Central Otago wine producers. ''It's a great business - it's the romance, food, wine ... It's all there. I'm very proud of the Central Otago industry.”

Napa rails against Disneyland image
As visitors outnumber residents in the California wine industry's spiritual home, is Napa cooking its golden goose? What is a winery; a place to make wine, or an event center to host tastings? In grappling with that question, Napa Valley is also struggling with a bigger one – what is a paradise? Napa currently has more cars driving into and out of the county every day than it has residents. It has the nation's first agricultural preservation law, but it grants variances to that law several times a year that allow people like Philippe Melka to build closer to the road than the law supposedly allows.

Smith Haut Lafitte and Perrier sex up Sauternes
Bordeaux producer aims to revive the famous sweet wines by dressing them up for a night on the town. Château Smith Haut Lafitte has teamed up with bottled water company Perrier to release an "aperitif" Sauternes destined for the trendiest bars of Paris. Smith's owners Florence and Daniel Cathiard bought Château Bastor Lamontagne in Sauternes last year and – together with a group of as-yet-unnamed first growths of the region have made SO Sauternes, a light white designed to be mixed with Perrier.

Zachys nets $7.5M in wine auction
High-end wine merchants are seeing an uptick in their market, following an increase in interest from buyers from New York. "Hong Kong has been a strong market, but seeing the resurgence in the New York market is very exciting," says Santosh Varghese, marketing manager for Zachys in Scarsdale. Zachys sold almost 98 per cent of its inventory offered in an auction Feb. 26 and 27 at Le Bernardin Privé. Much of the business is from the elite Burgundy wine market that has been rising steadily for years.

Sudden decrease in Bulgarian wine exports to Russia
Bulgarian wine exports to Russia have marked a considerable decrease. In the words of Krasimir Koev, head of Bulgaria's Execute Agency on Vine and Wine (EAVW), the main reasons are the tragic events in Ukraine as well as the devaluation of the Russian ruble, as reported by the Argumenti Nedeli daily. Koev noted that up until 2014, half of the Bulgarian wine production was exported to the Russian market. In his words, the number of orders truly reached ''cosmic dimensions''. In 2013, for example, Bulgaria has produced 250,000 tons of grapes and then 172.5 million litres of wine.

Winemaking couple produce same wine from same vineyard
It isn’t difficult to find multiple wineries making wines from the same vineyard. However, it is rare indeed for two winemakers who are married and producing wine for competing companies to make the same wine from one exclusive vineyard. But this month, Jessica Munnell and her husband, Juan Muñoz-Oca, are releasing Cabernet Sauvignons from little-known but highly regarded Wautoma Springs Vineyard in Washington’s Columbia Valley. Munnell is head winemaker for Mercer Estates in Prosser and co-owner of Wautoma Wines, while Muñoz-Oca is head winemaker for giant Columbia Crest.

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