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News posted on Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Drought fears grow as dry spell continues
Nathan Guy, Primary Industries minister, is expected to visit the parched South Canterbury area in the next few weeks as concern mounts that it and some other regions may be heading for a serious drought. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is monitoring the conditions in South Canterbury, as well as North Otago, Wairarapa and southern Hawke's Bay. David Wansbrough, MPI director of resource policy, said it had been talking with farmers and rural support trusts on a weekly basis. However, he said farmers and communities appeared to be coping so far and the Government was not planning to step in with any support measures at this stage.

Young gun winemakers
Of course they're young and hungry – that cliche applies to every new generation in every field. But a number of things set the new breed of Kiwi vigneron apart from many of their predecessors, not least their professionalism. "They've arrived into a mature industry that offers defined career paths," says Emma Taylor, national coordinator of the Young Viticulturist Competition (and herself a previous winner). "Typically they've trained here in New Zealand, rather than Australia, as many pioneers did. Wine production isn't something they've fallen into as a lifestyle option – they've focused on it right from the start. They've got business sense, they're technologically savvy and they want respect." Reports John Saker for Stuff.co.uk.

Ex-vineyard manager-winery owner pleads not guilty to grape theft
NAPA VALLEY: A former vineyard manager and vintner may be tried for allegedly stealing $50,000 worth of premium grapes from a Mount Howell client in October 2013, according to court records. Jeffry Hill, 36, on Tuesday pleaded not guilty in Napa County Superior Court to two counts of grand theft for allegedly stealing eight bins of grapes for high-end wines from David Paul Del Dotto, according to court records. Napa County Superior Court Judge Mark Boessenecker set the trial date for April 13. Hill, a Clovis resident, remains out of custody on $25,000 bail, according to court records… Reports Napa Valley Register.

Rioja has become Spain's most diverse wine region
In 2004, the American super-critic, Robert Parker, predicted that Spain would emerge as a leader in wine. He spoke both of better quality and also greater creativity. He was not far wrong. When he predicted that traditional wine regions like Rioja would play second fiddle to up-and-coming areas – Toro, Jumilla and Priorat in particular – his crystal ball clouded over. The fact is, Rioja has more than kept pace with changing tastes. It has embraced it, in fact, becoming Spain's most diverse wine region, with a broad mix of styles ranging from traditional to modern, from oaked to unoaked, from commercial to great, from blends to single vineyard wines – and, importantly, from fine reds to excellent whites… Reports The Independent.

How falling oil prices pair with fine wine
After three years of falling prices for fine wine, there are plenty of people who are not just hoping for the bottom to have been reached, but who need it to have been, reports Jane Anson for Decanter. According to Anson, more than one négociant in Bordeaux has spoken to her about the likelihood of businesses shutting up shop this year if the châteaux continue to price their wine higher than the market will sustain. “And it is no coincidence that more and more of them are looking outside of their own region – traditionally a heretical thing to do.” Anson said.

Grape rotting fruit fly raises alarm in German vineyards
German winemakers have become the latest in Europe to raise concerns over an Asian fruit fly that causes grapes to rot in the vineyards. The fly, known as Drosophila Suzukii, was the ‘biggest threat’ to vineyards in Germany’s key winegrowing regions during the 2014 harvest, according to the German wine export association, ‘Mo-Rhe-Na’. Producers in other wine regions, including Bordeaux, Burgundy and Veneto in northern Italy, have also reported concerns about the flies. ‘This insect caused considerable damage to red grapes, such as Dornfelder and Regent,’ said Mo-Rhe-Na, which is named after the Mosel, Rhine and Nahe growing areas and represents estates that bottle their own wines.

Warming climate brings earliest vintage on record
ABC’s Monday night program PM focused on the changing climate and what it could mean for Australian grapegrowers and winemakers. Lucy Barbour spoke to Canberra winemaker Ken Helm about his upcoming vintage. “You have to go and say that we are seeing a definite increase in temperatures across the climate, and that the vines are responding. And we have seen this since going back to November, when the flowering started. It was the earliest flowering I've ever seen and in viticultural terms, it's usually 100 days from flowering to harvest, which brings us to the end of February,” said Helm.

Accolade toasts Tassie show success
Accolade Wines’ House of Arras and Eddystone Point labels enjoyed a haul of trophies and gold medals at the 2015 Tasmanian Wine Show Presentation dinner in Hobart on Friday night. The 2002 House of Arras EJ Carr Late Disgorged was awarded the trophy for the Best Late Disgorged Mature Vintage Sparkling Wine and the 2012 Eddystone Point Pinot Noir picked up the trophy for the Best Three Year Old Pinot Noir… Reports The Shout.

Tassie sends submission for Ag Green paper
Australia sent out the call and Tasmania listened. This past month, the small island's wine association sent its submission for the country's Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper to the Government's Agricultural Competitiveness Taskforce. Wine Tasmania's submission for the Green Paper focuses on the country's growing wine market. “The Tasmanian wine sector is an important contributor to trade and the Tasmanian economy, regional employment, tourism and the overall Tasmanian brand,” the submission said. “Not only are existing Tasmanian wine producers expanding their investment through new vineyard area and infrastructure, many new investors have entered the Tasmanian wine sector in recent years.”

Boom in Asian tourism to help Australian business
Companies in several industries, including wine, stand to benefit from a boom in Asian tourists that will help offset the economic drag from declining resources investment. The broker's head of Australia research, Scott Ryall, has issued a lengthy report identifying $40 billion of major tourism projects in progress or planning that will help create critical mass for new developments as Australia looks to upgrade its tourism stock to meet demand from growing markets such as China. "We believe government and industry are co-ordinating to attract foreign investors," he said, adding he was impressed by the bipartisan nature of the focus… Reports The Age.

Gwyn Olsen takes on world
She landed her first job at a French winery after running her application through an auto-translate website and duping the business into believing she spoke the language - welcome to the life of Gwyn Olsen. Emilie Reynolds caught up with the ‘2014 Young Winemaker of the Year’ to chat about wine, fitness and her deep love of pies.

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