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News posted on Wednesday, 18 February 2015

More support for Sunraysia storm victims
The State Government has announced additional disaster assistance for primary producers affected by the Sunraysia storm late last year. Visiting Mildura yesterday, Premier Daniel Andrews and Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford announced recovery grants of up to $10,000 would be available to eligible primary producers in the Mildura and Swan Hill Rural City Councils. This means Victorian growers have access to assistance on par with that offered to NSW growers following the December 3 storm that significantly damaged crops including table and wine grape crops. “The recovery grants will give our Sunraysia growers a much needed boost,” Pulford said.

Winemaker lifts half year profit
Improved sales of McGuigan, Tempus Two and Nepenthe wines have delivered profit growth for their owner, Australian Vintage. The company's net profit of $4.4 million in the six months to December 31 was up from $4 million in the prior year, as sales of its three main labels rose 19 per cent. Sales in the UK and Europe were particularly strong, along with New Zealand. The 2015 vintage has begun and the early signs are encouraging, with good yield and quality, the company said, and it expects its full year profit to be higher than the previous year's $10.5 million.

Bountiful grapes point to bumper wine vintage for Canberra district wines
One of the Canberra wine region's trailblazers has described 2015 as "a cracker of a season never seen before." The harvest of grapes in the Murrumbateman area in New South Wales, west of Canberra, has started several weeks earlier than usual with an abundance of fruit. Ken Helm is producing his 39th vintage and "all the right boxes have been ticked" after favourable weather over the last few months. The good conditions have also been a boost for grape grower Rick Mumberson who bought a vineyard four years ago and supplies grapes to Helm.

Nick Carne takes on executive role at WCA
Wine Communicators of Australia (WCA) have announced Nick Carne as its new executive officer, taking over from Jeffrey Wilkinson who has retired after almost five years in the role. Carne said he has remained closely involved with WCA since stepping down from the board last year and valued the opportunity to get back into the action. “I think WCA is ready to take some big steps and to grow into not just an even better professional organisation but a genuine communications conduit for the industry,” Carne said.

Two Lands marries Australian terroir with California winemaking
Jacob's Creek is announcing the release of Two Lands, a new range of wines produced as a collaborative project between the winery's Chief Winemaker Bernard Hickin and award-winning Napa winemaker, Ehren Jordan. The range will be exclusively available in the U.S. beginning in March 2015. Two Lands marks Jordan's first exploration of Australian terroir, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge of California winemaking. Together with Hickin, who boasts 35 years of experience in the Barossa Valley, the collaboration aims to marry California winemaking with true Australian varietal character.

Aussies look to call time on NZ wine tax rebate
The Australian Government is moving to abolish a New Zealand wine tax rebate that would cost Kiwi winemakers tens of millions of dollars a year. Winemakers' Federation of Australia chief executive Paul Evans said moves were under way to end a Wine Equalisation Tax rebate scheme for New Zealand wine producers. Under the scheme more than 200 New Zealand wine companies have been claiming rebates of up to A$500,000 each (NZ$815,620), equating to about A$23 million in 2013 and up to A$25m a year in previous years. But the scheme, which has been in place since 2006, may be scrapped following an Australian federal government tax review due to be released this year.

Q&A: Matt Stafford, Craggy Range
New Zealander Matt Stafford has worked for Craggy Range in Hawke's Bay for eight years and became chief winemaker in 2012. “My mother's family had started around Waihi in the Gold Rush area. My great-grandfather and my grandfather were both goldminers. I spent a lot of time when I was young with my grandpa and he'd take me around the place and tell me things – there was always a story about the landforms. And that really inspired me. When I left school I studied earth sciences; I wanted to be able to share what I'm doing and talk about this connection with the land. Then someone introduced me to terroir.”

Vinexpo unveils major trends
VINEXPO revealed the highly-anticipated results of its 12th study of the World Wine and Spirits Market with an Outlook to 2018, conducted by British agency International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR). Global consumption of still and sparkling wines rose by 2.7 per cent between 2009 and 2013 to reach 2.648 billion 9-litre cases, the equivalent of more than 31.7 billion bottles. According to the new Vinexpo study, global consumption will experience an accelerated growth of 3.7 per cent by 2018, for a total of 2.732 billion 9-litre cases. The top three countries in terms of consumption are United States, France and Italy.

Indian grapes sparkle in Europe, Australian wines
Seedless grapes from India have become an integral part of certain French sparkling wines and Australian wines. Even as some grape exporters are engaged in setting up sustainable business practices with European importers, many say some varieties have found favour in France and Australia despite both origins being major grape producers. India is one of the largest exporters of grapes. The Thompson Seedless variety, which are green in colour, and Sharad Seedless and Jumbo variety, black coloured ones, are exported chiefly to the Netherlands. From there, Indian grapes are distributed throughout Europe, with a sizeable amount landing in Australia and France.

‘Painful moment’ for Argentina’s wine exporters, says Rabobank
Argentina’s wine exporters are having a “painful moment” as fast-rising inflation rates make it unprofitable to ship goods, says Rabobank. However, the global bank’s latest report shows a few bright spots – namely that exports of Argentinian wine to the UK have grown 5.5 per cent by volume in November, with value sales rising nine per cent in the same period. Argentina saw production decline last year, but had a bumper crop in 2013. This has pushed inventories up 13 per cent, according to the Observatorio Vitivinicola de Argentina which said stocks have grown as exports declined. This stock surplus is affecting pricing and has concerned regional governments who are trying to intervene on behalf of producers.

Europe seeks alternatives to vineyard staple
The European Commission has issued a list of pesticides that are "candidates for substitution" including copper, which is widely used in vineyards. The E.U. has issued a list of 77 "candidates for substitution" (CFS), pesticides for which national authorities must assess whether more favorable alternatives exist, including non-chemical methods, according to an announcement by the European Commission. La Vigne magazine reports that 26 of the 77 are used to protect grapevines. For winegrowers, by far the most important substance on the CFS list is copper sulfate, which has been used in Bordeaux mixture for well over a century to protect grapevines against downy and powdery mildews.

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