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News posted on Friday, 16 January 2015

To blame or not to blame?
During the current discussions about how the industry continues to face adverse times, it is often easy to revert to the behaviour of blame. Growers blame wine companies for failing to pay prices that are sustainable, wine companies blame growers for failings in fruit quality, and everyone blames supermarkets for the pressure exerted back upstream in the supply chain, and so on. This finger pointing fails to recognise the current lack of profitability as a global challenge that all wine growers and producers are trying to deal with, especially in the “popular premium” category that the Riverland is so good at producing.

Australia-Japan trade deal enters into force
The landmark free trade agreement between Australia and Japan entered into force on January 15, 2015. When it is fully implemented, more than 97 per cent of Australian exports will receive preferential or duty-free access to Japan. The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) was signed in July 2014. According to a joint statement issued by the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, the deal "lays the foundation for the next phase of bilateral economic relations, and will strengthen 'the special strategic partnership' between Japan and Australia."

Grapes survive wrath of heat
For a man whose grape crop could have so easily been ruined, John Griffiths is understandably upbeat. A week ago, the Swan Valley winemaker watched as soaring temperatures on one of Perth's hottest recorded days threatened to shrivel the life out of the fruit. And for what must have seemed an eternity, he kept an eye out for fires that have torn a path through bush not far from the valley. Despite the perils, Mr Griffiths was able to start the harvest yesterday at the Faber Vineyard he and his wife own, confident the vintage would be a good one.

Aussie wine region on the rise
Canberra is becoming more than just the home to Australia's capital city. The Canberra region's wine industry has seen a considerable growth in the past five years, according to a story published this past Sunday by The Canberra Times. “Canberra district fine wines have been labelled the 'flavour of the month' with many vignerons experiencing an increased demand for the boutique-labelled beverages,” reporter Kimberley Granger said. “The growing market for Canberra's fine wine has been occurring steadily for a few years, however in the last six months especially wine producers have been feeling the pressure.”

Adam Wadewitz from Shaw and Smith and Tolpuddle Vineyard reveals his wine tips
Adam Wadewitz is a winemaker at Shaw and Smith in the Adelaide Hills and Tolpuddle Vineyard in Tasmania. “Lots of wine rules should be broken. There’s no place for snobbery — the important thing is to encourage people to enjoy wine and not make it intimidating by having lots of rules.”

Search for perfect soil leads to practical magic in New Zealand
We have all had conversations with people that we wish would go on forever, where topics arise flow so smoothly – from practical to mysterious and back again – that a new nexus is born inside us. We learn to look a little more passively, at more things, and we connect differently. This is how it went for me with Mike Weersing. As it goes with the wines of Pyramid Valley Vineyards, which he and his wife, Claudia, began in 2000.

New Zealand wineries increase profitability again in 2014
Winegrowers are enjoying increased profitability, according to the Deloitte Vintage 2014 survey. The survey divides producers into five categories according to size: those with turnover higher than $20m (A$21m), those between $10m and $20m, those between $5m and $10m, $1.5m to $5m, and those below $1.5m. For the first time in seven years it found that all categories reported profitability before tax. Furthermore, it reported that since 2010 there has been a general trend of growing profitability. This run comes despite concerns over the impact of oversupply, high levels of external debt, the financial crisis and the turbulent bulk market

Idaho wine industry has $169 million impact on economy
Idaho’s fast-growing wine industry had a $169.3 million (A$205m) impact on the state’s economy in 2013, according to a new study. According to the economic impact study, the industry was also responsible for 1,226 jobs. The report by Stonebridge Research Group, a wine industry consultant based in Napa, California, said the impact would have been greater if a January frost had not reduced wine grape yields by 30 per cent that year.

Chinese wine industry to improve its national standards
China’s emerging wine industry is set to get new winemaking rules, to be drawn up by an expert committee established by government officials as the country seeks to meet international standards. The 27-member committee was summoned by the China National Wine Quality Supervision and Inspection Centre late last month to refine and upgrade existing winemaking rules in the country. The committee will be affiliated to the Standardization Administration of China, according to a government statement.

FUN FRIDAY: Self-service wine dispenser helps improve productivity at F&B outlets
Do not be surprised if you are asked to dispense your wine yourself the next time you visit a restaurant - a growing number of F&B outlets are now using the self-service WineStation, which was first introduced towards the end of 2013. The Pump Room at Clarke Quay started using the WineStation in December 2014. To use the machine, customers buy a stored-value card which they use to purchase wine from the automated dispenser. Alternatively, customers can opt for a tap card which records the amount spent on the wine stations during their visit.

Investing in India’s emerging wine industry
India’s expanding wine industry is in the midst of a vital transition. Last year, the country’s wine production hit a record 17 million litres, with export sales rising 40 per cent year-on-year to reach US$4.4 million (A$5.4m) in the first seven months. With a rapidly growing export sector, expanding domestic consumer market and increasing industry support in major wine-producing States, the Indian wine industry has potential to be a global market competitor.

Barefoot Wine Founders Announced As Keynote Speakers at Australia Trade Tasting 2015
Australia Trade Tasting 2015 is thrilled to announce that Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey, two of the most successful wine brand owners of all time, are going to be keynote speakers at the Australia Trade Tasting USA Export Focus Day. As founders of Barefoot Wines, Michael and Bonnie are perhaps the most prolific wine sales professionals in history. I mean, who else can say that they started out in their laundry room with nothing more than an idea and then went on to build the world’s top selling wine brand? Now that’s something truly special!

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