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News posted on Thursday, 15 January 2015

Dry spell to limit fungal disease in SA vineyards
Heavy rainfall and humid weather normally pose a serious risk of fungal diseases for winegrapes, but an extended dry spell this season may lower the risk, according to a plant pathologist. Vineyards in the Riverland, Clare and Barossa Valleys, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills received heavy rainfall, followed by humid weather; the perfect conditions for downy mildew and bunch rot to spread. Riverland plant pathologist, Peter Magarey, said it is also quite late in the season for downy mildew which further lowers the risk of an outbreak.

Thunderstorms a godsend for Hope Estate
It's not often you hear a vigneron hailing thunderstorms, but for Hope Estate’s founder Michael Hope, it has been a godsend. The December and January storms, and sunshine and breeze afterwards, have saved his Pokolbin crops from disease and given the vines enough moisture to produce a top yield. Rainfall over the weekend, and showers predicted this week, also won’t hamper the quality of his crop. He said showers were not a problem in the lead up to harvest because the breeze or sunshine afterwards stopped disease setting in.

Roadblocks to Chinese-Aussie wineries
Three separate Chinese investors made $6 million bids to buy a 410-hectare Hyde Park Vineyard in the township of Great Western, 225 kilometres west of Melbourne last year. “Contracts have been exchanged with one Chinese investor and final negotiations are in place,” LJ Hooker Glen Waverley’s director of business development, Joseph Ngo said. “While we cannot reveal the name of the buyer, they own hotels in China.” Ngo said the buyer planned on bottling Hyde Park wines with their own label and sending them to their hotels in China for Chinese patrons.

Hunter Valley trophy lifestyle vineyard estate listed
Loggerheads, the trophy Hunter Valley vineyard estate last sold in 2008, has been listed with $10 million price expectations. The Pokolbin property has wonderful provenance being the former home of the late Len Evans and before that the Tyrrell family. It was last sold to Robin and Judy Crawford by Len Evan's widow, Trish Evans. There's still a village-like setting at the estate which has its rambling residential homestead with three adjoining pavilions.

Spokenwine: The Iconic co-founder Cameron Votan's new start-up
Cameron Votan, one of the co-founders of online fashion retailer The Iconic, has vowed not to pursue the traditional venture capital route with his new start-up, Spokenwine. Votan and his co-founders, Victor Garcia, Nicholas Turner and Michael Larsen, launched online wine retailer Spokenwine in December. He says he is trying to approach wine retailing differently, by giving the consumer a strong voice and by partnering with the winemakers rather than treating them as suppliers. Behind the scenes, Spokenwine has built a logistics network that means customers can order from Spokenwine and the wine will be shipped directly from the winery.

Organic vineyard allows wines to express terroir
It was a classical education; stints travelling and working in Burgundy, Bordeaux and Cote Rotie in France, and Alto Adige and Sicily in Italy. 1987. As a newly qualified wine maker, Rebecca Salmond made the mature decision that the theory she learned at Massey University and Adelaide University's Roseworthy College needed to be fortified by some practical experience of the old-world variety. Returning home again, Salmond launched Odyssey Wines in 1994, committing to the making of small amounts of premium wine from single vineyard vintages, and aptly labelled after Homer's great journey.

Grape yields down so no glut tipped
Marlborough grapegrowers are expecting the 2015 vintage to be "significantly" smaller than last year's bumper harvest, ruling out a repeat of the 2008 wine glut. Clive Jones, Wine Marlborough board chairman, said bunch numbers were well down on last year and the yield size was looking similar to Marlborough's 2013 vintage. Last year, Marlborough's 168 wineries and 568 grapegrowers collectively harvested a record 329,572 tonnes of grapes. In 2013, they harvested 251,680 tonnes. Jones, who is also Nautilus Estate winemaker and winery manager, said yield sizes were back to normal after a bumper harvest last year.

Graphic: California leads global vineyard price rises
Data from estate agency Knight Frank shows that Sonoma in California has seen some of the steepest rises in vineyard prices. Napa Valley might have spearheaded California's emergence on the world wine scene in the past 40 years, but it is neighbouring Sonoma that appears to have seen stronger interest in vineyard acquisitions in the last couple of years. Vineyard prices across Sonoma County were up by 18 per cent for the year to the end of June 2014, according to estate agency Knight Frank's latest global vineyard index.

South Africa: Rapid drop in grape prices
The grape harvest is drawing to a close in the Limpopo region of South Africa, unlike other regions in the country the season started a bit later than last year’s according to Gert Smit from Top 8. “Most of the producers will start to round up their season this week, but some will go on with the late varieties such as Crimson & Scarlotta up to week 6 or 7." He said that volumes for the company will be up around 10 per cent on last year reaching 800,000 4.5 Kg equivalent cartons, this is mainly due to new plantings coming into production and good yields.

Terlato adds Duval-Leroy Champagnes to luxury wine portfolio
Terlato Wines today announced a new partnership to import the Champagnes of Duval-Leroy. The long-term agreement with the Duval-Leroy family adds depth and diversity to the Terlato Estate portfolio with a highly respected producer and brand with significant growth potential in the U.S. The House of Duval-Leroy, located in Vertus in the Cote des Blancs region of France, traces its roots back to 1859, when the Duval and Leroy families joined together to create Premier Cru and Grand Cru Champagnes of exceptional elegance and finesse.

The psychology of wine labels
After multiple opportunities to do field research this holiday season, I’ve come to the conclusion most of us choose wine based on brand, rather than taste. Sure, many people have an oenophile friend who knows that a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite with the initials Th.J. etched on it sold for more than $150K. However, most of us either stick with a few vintages we’re already familiar with or, when we want to choose a new wine, we make the decision largely based on the label. That’s right, the label. According to David Schuemann of CF Napa Brand Design, “a carefully crafted label can make us think the bottle is way more expensive than it is, and it can boost our enjoyment of the wine itself.”

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