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News posted on Monday, 16 February 2015

Fears lowering foreign investment threshold could hamper growth in wine industry
Tightening foreign investment rules will slow growth in Australia's wine industry, according to a South Australian wine broker. From March, the Commonwealth will lower the threshold for scrutiny of farmland sales by the Foreign Investment Review Board, from $240 million to $15 million. It's a move that's been slammed by the Business Council of Australia, which says it sends the wrong message about investing in Australia. Managing director of Adelaide wine brokerage Geatjens Langley, Toby Langley, said concerns about foreign investment were "massively" overstated.

NZ winemakers taking the piss with ‘perverse’ rebate
A ‘PERVERSE’ arrangement which sees millions of Australian taxpayer dollars funnelled to New Zealand wine producers every year looks set to be abolished. Wine and alcohol industry groups have joined with government backbenchers in calling on the loophole in the Wine Equalisation Tax rebate scheme to be closed in the upcoming review of Australia’s tax system. The New Zealand rebate scheme was introduced in 2005 under the Howard government. Under the rebate scheme, Australian taxpayers “refunded” New Zealand winemakers to the tune of $25 million in the last financial year, up around 10 per cent on the $23 million paid in 2012-13.

Chinese billionaire's bumper Aus harvest
ASIA'S richest man has become the second-largest owner of Australian vineyards. When the federal government's new register for foreign investment in agricultural land comes into force, one person set to attract more scrutiny is Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing. His companies have been busily buying up vineyards to become the second-largest owner of vineyard holdings in Australia. The Hong Kong-based 86-year-old is worth an estimated $30 billion and best known in Australia for having amassed a large portfolio of electricity assets and gas distribution pipelines. He's also become a dominant player in controlling the grapes that go into wine.

Vigneron leans on cattle for harvest help near Gundagai
The light is fading and a light breeze rolls in across the vines. The grape harvester hums in the distance. It straddles a steep row of shiraz vines and spits out bunches of grapes into the chaser bin. Jim Coe follows the pair of tractors closely behind, checking everything is in order. His small team of pickers are anxious to get the last of the crop off at Cooba East Station before the storm rolls in. The property he owns with his wife Karen is nestled behind Cooba Mountain near Eurongilly, about 30 kilometres north-east of Gundagai in south-west New South Wales.

Corsinis count cost of storm
IT will be a case of “start from scratch” for the Corsini family after wind gusts not only wiped out a section of Riesling fruit but took the trellises, posts and rootstock with it. A 350 metre section of Riesling parallel to Honey’s Lane in King Valley was blown over by fierce winds during last Wednesday evening’s storm, snapping star pickets, wooden posts and the base of the established vines connected to the trellises. “It’s 25 per cent of the Riesling which has been wiped out,” vigneron Peter Corsini said. "It’s just on 10 per cent of everything we have here (approximately 22 hectares), so it’s a bit of a chunk."

Vineyard set to build second water dam
A multi-million dollar storage dam is being built on vineyard land in Marlborough. The dam, which will be able to hold 260,000 cubic metres of water, is being built to irrigate about 250 hectares of new plantings in the Waihopai Valley. Winegrowers of Ara have been granted resource and building consents for the dam. Winegrowers of Ara chief executive Christine Pears said they were "significantly" expanding their vineyard and, as a result, needed extra water storage. Their markets, both internationally and nationally, had grown and they needed to be able to supply them, she said.

Feds threaten California wine imports as US- Canada labelling dispute heats up
Canada's agriculture minister is threatening tariffs on California wine if the U.S. doesn't repeal restrictive meat-labelling laws costing our farmers billions. The hammer strikes May 1 if mandatory country-of-origin labelling legislation isn't changed, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says. "We import $400 million in California wines (annually)," he said this week during a stop in southwestern Ontario, one of Canada's richest farm belts and a major livestock producer. "We've got a great wine industry right here in Ontario, so that's an easy one to target for retaliation.”

Poland makes push for elevated viticulture
Poland is pushing its place in the wine world. Earlier this month Polish diplomat Andrzej Byrt met with Jean-Marie Aurand, Director General of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), to apprise him of the resurgence of wine culture in Poland. According to a news story by the OIV, the conversation included details about the wine sector which “has boomed in a country that has experienced significant economic growth over recent years.” Much of the vitivinicultural boom is based on grape hybrids like solaris, hibernal and maréchal foch. The growth Byrt spoke of extends from the grape-growing region of Zielona Gora down through Krakow and eastward toward Kazimierz Dolny.

Champagne back on the menu as budget wine market dips
Spending on wine in restaurants and bars has dipped by almost a tenth in the past year but connoisseurs are increasingly willing to splash the cash on premium lines. Though overall spending in the ‘on-premises’ market dropped by 9.7 per cent in the past year, new figures have highlighted the soaring popularity of sparkling wines among discerning middle class diners. Champagne and Prosecco sales were buoyant over the past 12 months, jumping by 45 per cent in high-end establishments. Sales of premium wines have fared well overall, now representing 12.6pc of the wines sold ‘on-premises’, compared to 10.5pc in the year before.

Biodynamic winemaker Joly to cut ties with Loire body
Loire Valley winemaker Nicolas Joly has said he will withdraw his vineyard of the La Coulee de Serrant from the region's wine trade body after accusing the group of failing to respect organic and biodynamic wine producers. Nicolas Joly’s decision comes after a French court ordered him to pay 5,803 euros and three cents, plus 1,500 euros in legal fees, for not paying his subscription to Interloire. He has appealed the judgement, but said he will withdraw La Coulee de Serrant, a small appellation of seven hectares within AC Savennieres and owned by the Joly family since 1961.

Chard Farm Winery celebrates 25 years on the farm
Central Otago’s Chard Farm Winery is celebrating 25 years on the farm later this month with a VIP wine tasting, birthday party and a family-friendly locals’ Open Day. Celebrations will be held over the weekend of Friday and Saturday February 20 and 21, and in a ‘nod’ to the community that has supported the business over the decades, all proceeds from wine sales on the Open Day will go to local primary schools. Director and winemaker Rob Hay said he, wife Gerdi and family were looking forward to celebrating the landmark anniversary. “I first set eyes on the farm in August 1986 after returning from Germany where I’d studied winemaking,” he said.

Leaseback deal offered for West Auckland winery
The property encompassing Coopers Creek's vineyard at 601 State Highway 16, Huapai in West Auckland, is for sale with a lease arrangement providing for the continued operation of the winery and vineyard by the owners. "Coopers Creek has been established for more than 30 years with this 9.3ha site being the home of its leading export wine brands," says Dwayne Warby of Colliers International. He is marketing it for sale by deadline private treaty closing on March 19 unless it sells beforehand by private treaty. "The winery company wants to stay on as a tenant to enable Coopers Creek to maintain its existing winery and vineyards and to fund other projects," Warby says.

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