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News posted on Thursday, 19 February 2015

Winemakers say a focus on marketing is the way to fix the industry
The Winemakers Federation of Australia (WFA) says it is time to spend more money on marketing to win back overseas wine drinkers. The local industry has been in a slump for years, and, ahead of the May Budget, is calling for changes to how government funds marketing activities. Paul Evans, WFA chief executive officer, said growing demand for wine was the key. "We're really focusing on demand for wine in our traditional markets, particularly North America, so the US and Canada, but also capitalising on the emerging Asian markets like China," he said.

Australian Vintage pulls back from bulk to focus on branded wine in UK
Australian Vintage is pulling back from bulk wine sales in the UK to focus on its core branded range as prices sink. Posting its global half year results for the six months to December 31, 2014, the company saw net profits after tax increase from $4 million to $4.4m, with total revenues up 16 per cent to $121.7m. Neil McGuigan, Australian Vintage president, sounded a note of caution, saying: “The continued growth of our key brands is very encouraging. However, due to the higher cost of our 2014 vintage and some large bulk wine sale, the improved sales did not directly translate into improved margin dollars.”

First Prosecco wine to be produced in the South East
Prosecco wine is the second biggest selling sparkling wine in world, after champagne. It was once only grown in the North-East of Italy, but in recent years, other countries have started to produce Prosecco including Brazil, Romania, Argentina and Australia. Our region is known for producing quality red wines but for the first time, a Limestone Coast winery is producing a Prosecco wine, which is due to be released soon. Winemaker Peta Baverstock was a finalist in the Vin de Champagne awards last year and is speaking with ABC Mornings presenter Rebekah Lowe…

Sweetwater, the world class Hunter Valley vineyard estate has $30 million hopes
Sweetwater, a world class winery located in the rolling hills of the Hunter Valley, has been listed for sale. The 48 hectare Pokolbin property is being marketed by Jurds Real Estate as the most significant country vineyard estate in Australia. Inspired by southern European vineyard estates, in it is a planned hamlet with a series of interlocking properties of differing eras. Producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz on 16 hectares, there is also a cellar door. There is private owners and guest wing accommodations, entertaining loggia and plunge pool. There is also an olive grove.

New Zealand’s Ara Wines moves to Bibendum PLB
Bibendum PLB has signed a deal as the exclusive UK distributor of Marlborough’s Ara Wines – formerly supplied via Negociants UK. Ara Wines have been available in the UK market since 2011, but the group wants to broaden its UK distribution to cover regional and national on-trade, specialist off-trade, and multiples market. The New Zealand winery previously distributed its wines to the UK market through Negociants UK. Christine Pears, Ara’s chief executive, said the future was looking bright for Ara.

The all new wine destinations
Building on the successful relaunch of flagship quarterly Destinations under new publisher Stephen Brown, Destinations Publishing is set to launch a new-look annual. To be released in June 2015, the fully redesigned and re-imagined Wine Destinations annual will be the most engaging and informative publication that the travelling wine lover is likely to find, according to Editor Michael Hooper. With a foreword from the New Zealand Prime Minister, an introduction by the CEO of NZ Winegrowers, and input from some of the country’s most highly qualified wine and tourism experts, Wine Destinations will provide a range of authoritative perspectives on this significant New Zealand industry.

China leads fine wine bounceback
Consumers worldwide are returning to the fine wine market, whose recent downturn has seen a welcome exodus of many less reputable investment funds, according to one major player in this sector. “In the last six months we’ve been selling a lot more into China; that’s all coming back now,” reported Rodney Birrell, director of The Wine Investment Fund, which has offices in London, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Zurich. In line with this recovery, the fund’s investment manager Chris Smith recorded a “very good” period of business from this market ahead of Chinese New Year, “certainly better than last year,” he noted.

Canada among the world’s top consumers of imported wine
Canadians love their vino — including the sparkling stuff — but when we raise a glass it’s mostly foreign brands, says a new Vinexpo report on the global wine and spirits market. That’s partly because the domestic wine industry remains too small to supply our thirst, while Canadian palates still lean toward traditional producers such as France and Italy — though “New World” wines from New Zealand, the U.S. and Chile will muscle into the market more over the next three years, says the study conducted by British agency International Wine and Spirit Research.

Crowdfunding: A saviour or white whale for the wine sector?
The hype surrounding crowdfunding is based on a lot more than the numbers. In a modern sense of the word, crowdfunding makes investing a more democratic process. This should be good news to the wine sector, where an overwhelming majority of producers are indeed small entrepreneurs. Recognising that the wine sector is capital-intensive; has an average lag time of around 10 years before the break-even threshold can be passed by businesses surviving that long; and that the primary product is perishable, fragile and low-value and hyperfragmented suggests there is an inherently high degree of risk associated with businesses in this sector.

Healthy vineyards grow more than grapes
What helps to absorb greenhouse gases, extend the life of farmland and keep soil moist in times of drought? At one of the Napa Valley’s most famed wineries, growers turn their eyes downward for their answer – toward the humble-looking, easy-to-miss plants between the rows of grapevines. Most visitors at the Chateau Montelena grounds may first notice the columns of vines producing grapes for its famed vintages. On Sunday afternoon, however, a group of visitors turned their attention instead to the Blando Brome grasses, barley and other ground-cover plants filling the eight-foot-wide gaps between the rows.

February 2015 Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine out now
The February 2015 issue of the Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine is out now – and is available online for all subscribers. The front cover commemorates the 50th birthday of the humble wine cask, showcasing the history and evolution of the bag-in-box packaging. This month we discuss the latest in vineyard machinery; yeast, enzymes and ferments; analytical services, refrigeration as well as bottling, labelling and packaging. We also feature an in-depth look at the potential dangers of quad bikes and how to ensure safety in dangerous conditions.

Austrian winemaker ups turnover by 70% in Romania
Wine producer amb Wine, part of Austrian amb Holding, ended 2014 with a turnover of RON 3 million (EUR 675,000) in Romania, up 70% year-on-year. The company also completed the development of its Liliac wine cellar in Batos, Mures county, which required an overall investment of some EUR 7 million, including operational costs. It carried out the investment in three stages. In 2011, the company invested EUR 3 million in buying and cultivating a 38-hectare vineyard in Batos and Vermes Lechinta areas in Transylvania and in building the winery.

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