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News posted on Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Great Southern winegrowers face weather and tax reform challenges
Wine industry representatives in Western Australia's grape-growing regions say unexpected periods of rain late in the season caused "mild panic" in the lead-up to this year's harvest. Uncertainty surrounding the introduction of the proposed backpacker tax also played on the minds of producers in the state's Great Southern who are already struggling to bolster a limited workforce.

Century of unbroken grapes supply to New South Wales wine company highly unlikely to nudge 200 years
More than a century of continually supplying fruit to one of the Riverina's most prominent winemaking companies is looking shaky for a grapegrowing family in the southern New South Wales region. The Delves family, located at Hanwood near the city of Griffith, have operated a farm near McWilliams for 100 years. "My great grandfather in 1913 first settled here and his neighbour was JJ McWilliam from the McWilliams wine family," Grant Delves explained.

American snakes and ladders: China may be all the rage but reward for effort also awaits in the US
Australian wine sales are showing “tantalising signs” of recovery in the US market, but wineries re-entering or approaching the market for the first time need a new approach to ensure the upturn will continue, according to wine industry commentator Tony Keys. Writing in the first of a series of articles on the US market published in the just-released March-April issue of the Wine & Viticulture Journal, Keys says Americans are open to Australian wines but are mistrustful of the past.

US market under spotlight in series of articles beginning in latest issue of the Wine & Viticulture Journal
The first of a series of articles by Australian wine industry commentator Tony Keys on Australia’s biggest wine export market by value, the United States, and the exciting growth opportunities emerging within it headlines the latest issue of the Wine & Viticulture Journal. Beginning in the just-released March-April issue of the Journal, Tony will provide an indepth analysis of the present and future of Australian wine in the US market.

Canberra's wine harvest vintage report 2016
Canberra vignerons rarely see two consecutive high-quantity, high-quality vintages as they have in 2015 and 2016. But just how good 2016 quality is depends on who you ask. Ken Helm, of Helms Wine, Murrumbateman, writes: "The 2016 vintage was the earliest and hottest season on record, but looks like equalling the great 2015, and 2013 vintages in production of quality wines; it shows the depth of the quality from Canberra can be realised across a range of climate conditions."

Varieties off beaten track
Many of you will have experienced this scenario: you visit a winery on holiday and among the array of usual suspects available to taste and buy, you find a wine that you have never seen or tasted before; possibly one you have never even heard of. You taste the range with the owner or winemaker, but it's clear they are hankering for you to try the wine that makes them stand out: they have an absolute passion for a little-known variety and that enthusiasm rubs off.

Questioned over wine bus name
The moniker chosen for a converted VW Kombi a Dunedin businessman hopes to sell wine from in Queenstown has come under fire at a liquor licence hearing. Richard Nelson appeared before the Queenstown Lakes district licensing committee seeking, among other things, a caterers endorsement to allow him to provide wine tastings from the refurbished vehicle he callled ‘‘Amy Winedub'', despite not intending to provide food.

Industry-first study analyses more than two million wine consumer data records
A few weeks ago, I posted an article introducing Enolytics, a new start up dedicated to bringing the power of big data to the wine industry. I wrote about big data as “the wine industry’s elephant in the room,” when massive amounts of data are generated, by-products of smart technologies like mobile apps and CRMs, but go untapped and un-analysed in favour of more traditional qualitative methods of research like surveys and polls.

A map of Europe according to whether people prefer wine or beer
Stereotypes are funny because there’s a small silence in between the laughter that implies they are based on a grain of truth. In the case of alcoholic beverages, the widely held belief is the French drink wine, the Germans drink beer. Jakub Marian, using data from a study by the World Health Organisation on global alcohol consumption, created two maps that show how much beer and wine we consume country-by-country in litres per year, per capita.

Independent wine merchants can boost sales by championing Argentina
Independents can boost profits by mimicking the way restaurants champion top-end Argentinian Malbec, according to a leading supplier. Argentina is the fastest-growing wine country of origin in the UK off-trade, with sales shooting up 24% to £120 million in 2015 (Nielsen). A lot of that growth has been driven by Concha y Toro’s Trivento brand, which is up by more than 100% in value and volume year on year, but which is mainly in the grocery channel.

Birds and snakes partner with grapegrowers
Grapegrowers happily welcome hawks and owls to their vineyards, but other birds (and snakes) can also rout pests. Some new research about owls could help growers attract even more. This information was shared at a recent seminar in the sustainable grapegrowing series organized by the Napa Valley Grapegrowers. The overall subject of the seminar, which was held at the Huichica Creek Sustainable Demonstration Vineyard in the Carneros section of Napa Valley, was vertebrates in the vineyard, including how beneficial birds and snakes can help grapegrowers.

Discovery of red blotch vector in the US underlines Australian biosecurity measures
The recent confirmation of a vector for red blotch associated virus in the US by University of California researchers has highlighted the importance of biosecurity to Australia’s wine industry. The researchers confirmed the three cornered alfalfa treehopper (Spissistilus festinus) was able to transmit red blotch associated virus (RBaV) to grapevines in greenhouse tests. It is the first confirmation of a vector for the virus.

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