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News posted on Monday, 16 November 2015

Wine exports up, including international door-to-door sales, as Australian dollar loses value
The value of the Australian dollar has been declining over the past 12 months, increasing opportunities in export markets. The Wine Australia export report for the 12 months to June showed exports rose overall in value and volume by five per cent. It is the first time export value has risen on a financial year basis since 2006-07.

Australian growers worried by early onset of dry weather
Hot weather across Australia is causing anxiety to wine growers, due to the rising cost of irrigation and the increased risk of fire. This year has seen an early, hot spring across the country, and one of the strongest El Nino systems ever declared, according to the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI). This weather system is one of the most important climate drivers in Australia and is typified by reduced rainfall, warmer temperatures, a shift in temperature extremes and increased risk of frost.

Woolworths, Coles private label plonk angers wine industry
In a nondescript building in Sydney's trendy Surry Hills a team of market researchers and brand developers are designing dozens of bottles of wine. They've used focus groups to work out exactly why you like the wines you do – even if you don't have a clue. Sales data from hundreds of stores tells them which flavours are catching attention and which labels are most likely to lead to a sale. It might be the wine you like has a little extra residual sugar, maybe a bit more tannin, or a little less oak.

A truly captive audience on Sydney Harbour island for winemakers
It provides the ultimate in a captive audience. A group of 37 small-to-medium winemakers are taking matters into their own hands on a small island in Sydney Harbour just a five-minute kayak ride across the pristine waters from one of Sydney's most prestigious residential enclaves, Darling Point. Clark Island, which takes less than 10 minutes to walk around and is largely natural bushland, provides the backdrop for a push by a group of wine companies to expand the reach of their brands to a different clientele. For many of them the ability to bypass the powerful liquor chains run by Woolworths and Coles is a godsend.

Old vines for premium wines, says Wine Australia
Home to some of the oldest vines in the world, Australia needs to keep telling the fascinating stories of its proud heritage, according to a panel of experts at Wine Australia’s Old Vines seminar in London recently. Hosted by wine journalist Sarah Ahmed and featuring Wynns Head Winemaker Sue Hodder, journalist Jamie Goode and Hewitson Winemaker Dean Hewitson, the seminar explored Australia’s old vines through 15 premium wines.

Caleb Dennis takes out Young Horticulturist of the Year
Bayer Young Viticulturist of the Year Caleb Dennis has proven his skills on a wider scale, taking out the 2015 Young Horticulturist of the Year. Representing the Viticultural sector, Dennis competed against five other finalists from various horticultural areas including Landscaping, Nursery & Garden, Amenity Horticulture and Vegetable, Fruit & Flower Growing.

New Zealand Syrah quality continues to forge ahead
The 10th Annual New Zealand Syrah Workshop, held at the Bayview Chateau Tongariro from the 4 to 6 November, has “seriously impressed” international guest speaker Gary Mills. The owner and winemaker of Jamsheed Wines in Victoria said the competition showed a high quality of New Zealand Syrah across the board. “Perfumed, elegant wines with low alcohols and fresh acidity which are basically my kind of wines,” Mills said.

Meet Washington’s ‘rock ’n’ roll winemaker’
The wine business has always been hospitable to iconoclasts and idiosyncratic types – it allows for a healthy amount of personal expression, and a certain non-corporate flair – and American producer Charles Smith certainly fits that mould to a T. With his wild explosion of long, frizzy hair and frequently salty language, not to mention his unbridled enthusiasm for grapes, Smith stands out in a crowd – and so do his wines.

China’s Singles’ Day festival: record-breaking online wine sales
China’s online wine and spirits retailers have reported strong rises in sales during the 2015 version of China’s Singles’ Day shopping festival. Retailer Yesmywine doubled its Singles’ Day sales on its Tmall.com outlet to hit CNY 40.5m (A$9m) during the first 24 hours of its ‘72-hour sales campaign’. Wine and spirit retailers Sichuan 1919 and jiuxian.com also reported record sales figures. China’s Singles' Day, also known as Guang Gun Jie, is celebrated on the 11 November.

Bordeaux winemaker brews Sauvignon Blanc beer
A Bordeaux producer is carving his own niche by brewing what he claims is the only fruit beer produced using Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown in the region. La Biére des Vendanges 2015, literally “beer harvest”, is produced by Thomas Le Grix de la Salle, winemaker and export manager at Château Verdus in the Entre-deux-Mers region of Bordeaux, from Sauvignon Blanc grapes grown at his family’s estate.

Winemakers in Idaho and California hope for federal recognition
Winemakers from northwestern Idaho to the foothills of California’s Fresno County produce distinct vintages but share a common dream of seeing benefits flow from federal recognition. In what’s become a rite of passage, the different groups of winemakers have sought designation of their respective regions as viticultural areas. It can be a years-long ordeal that proponents hope will result in marketing fizz.

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