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News posted on Friday, 15 January 2016

Climate extremes threaten Australia's wine industry
Winemakers in Australia's oldest growing region fear a ruined harvest after heavy rainfall, while vineyards in the country's west are under threat from bushfires, undermining efforts to recover from a near decade-long run of lower exports. Just weeks out from the 2016 harvest, the contrasting events highlight the challenges from climate change, particularly extreme weather, faced by the world's fourth-largest wine exporter. Not only are wine growing regions getting hotter, weather is also becoming more unpredictable, scientists say.

Elderton Wines names inaugural recipient of Winemaking Excellence Scholarship
Premium Barossa wine producer Elderton Wines have announced the first recipient of the Elderton Winemaking Excellence Scholarship. Cameron and Allister Ashmead of Elderton Wines announced that fourth year Bachelor of Oenology and Viticulture student Thomas Darmody will be the inaugural recipient of the scholarship. “We are excited to announce that Thomas Darmody is the inaugural recipient of the Elderton Winemaking Excellence Scholarship.”

On course to learn more about wine
As is not uncommon, I was getting a bit excited about wine: a 2014 Feudi Bizantini Ikonia Pecorino from the Terre di Chieti in Abruzzo in this case. I'm at my local – and favourite – butcher and deli: Marino Meat and Food Store in Adelaide. "Pecorino, exactly like the cheese?" manager Marilena Marino asks. "Why is it called pecorino?" Stopped in my enthusiastic tracks and somewhat embarrassed, I confessed: "I don't know … but I will find out."

Hunter vineyards begin 2016 harvest hoping to avoid more wet weather
Hunter Valley vignerons are hoping the warm weather will dry out the bunches from last week's downpour, and kill off any fungal diseases. Pokolbin winemaker John Drayton said he this week picked semillon grapes, which will be turned into verjuice. "They're not quite ripe enough for the flavours for the typical Hunter semillon, which we're famous for, so we need to wait a couple of weeks for that," he said.

Changing of the guard at Hunter's Wines in Marlborough
A new generation of winemakers has taken the reins at Hunter's Wines, but former winemaker Gary Duke is still around to keep an eye on his proteges. In his 24 years as chief winemaker, Duke saw the Marlborough wine industry expand from a small collection of cellar doors and wineries to the behemoth it is today. After starting as a cellar hand in Australia, Duke progressed up the ranks to become a winemaker, a title he held when he was hired by Hunter's Wines managing director Jane Hunter in 1991.

Family-owned Hawke's Bay wineries to tackle US and China markets
Boutique family-owned wineries in Hawke's Bay are starting to think big. In the past few months, at least two wineries have announced they plan to tackle big overseas markets in order to increase their presence around the world. But multi-millionaire Sir Graeme Avery said breaking into major markets, such as China and the United States, was no easy feat. Avery is the founder of Sileni Estates, which exports wine to more than 80 countries.

Research identifies protein behind costly grape leaf disease
Scientists at UC Davis have identified a key protein at the root of a disease likely ravaging California’s grapevines and costing the state’s wine and grape industry more than $100 million yearly. Pierce’s disease is caused by a bacteria known to hurt crops including almonds and grapes. It’s transmitted from vine to vine by a small winged insect called the sharpshooter which lives near rivers and streams.

Dry January and the wine industry’s elephant in the room
Dry January is a phenomenon that has been picking up traction in recent years, given the increased focus on the impact of alcohol on health. It’s exactly what it sounds like: abstaining from liquor for the first month of the year, in order to “detox” after a holiday season of overindulgence. Several stories have already been written about the health benefits—or lack thereof—of a month of abstinence.

Rain gives Cali wineries a glimmer of hope
No one is claiming the California drought is over, but a quiet optimism is emerging. Three years of drought on the US West Coast has accomplished what paleo diets cannot: put Americans in touch with their pre-industrial forefathers. When it rains, instead of grumbling about their commute, even city dwellers celebrate.

Red wine compounds may help prevent erectile dysfunction – study
Men who consume a diet rich in flavonoids – typically found in fruit and red wine – are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction, according to a joint UK/US study. The research, carried out by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Harvard University, found that eating a flavonoid-rich diet is as beneficial to erectile function as briskly walking for up to five hours a week. The most beneficial flavonoids were found to be anthocyanins (found in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes, blackcurrants and red wine), flavanones and flavones (found in citrus fruits).

WA fires: Yarloop residents did not receive warnings, says local winemaker
"I got no text message. None of my neighbours got one... but I knew there was a fire." I have won awards for winemaking – but they've all melted off the wall. A Yarloop winemaker has described saving his home and cellars from destruction, armed with nothing but a quad bike and an 80-litre water tank. Skipworth Wine Company owner Kim Skipworth, who lives on his vineyard in the hills overlooking the townsite, said from his elevated position he saw smoke curl from the fire's starting point at Lane Pool Reserve last Wednesday and so was prepared.

JAEPA delivers export gains
COMPELLING gains for Australian agricultural exports - including increases exceeding 1000 per cent for table grapes and almonds – have been revealed one year into the Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) formally commenced on January 15 last year.

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