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News posted on Friday, 20 February 2015

Farmers prepare as Cyclone Marcia bears down on Queensland coast
Farmers are preparing for the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Marcia, which is expected to cross the Queensland coast on Friday morning. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting falls of more than 300 millimetres, from Mackay to the New South Wales border. In the Gladstone region, farmers are growing worried about how much soil erosion will occur in the wake of the cyclone's soaking rains. Gecko Valley winery owner Tony McRae said with the soil already saturated, further heavy rain could cause serious damage. "I'm very concerned actually. We've had quite good rain this year, 70 millimetres of spring rain and 500 millimetres of summer rain," he said. "All the dams are full, the main Awoonga Dam has already overflowed, and nobody needs any more rain. This is just going to cause erosion, so nobody wants a cyclone and nobody wants any of this rain either."

Fracking inquiry will take societal fear and impact on regional branding into account
A parliamentary inquiry into fracking in the south-east of South Australia will take societal attitudes into account when it makes recommendations to the State Government. Fracking is a mining practice that involves using a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to release gas from deep inside the earth. Factions of the south-east community have held multiple protests, expressing concern fracking would contaminate water supplies and compromise primary industries. But South Australian Greens leader Mark Parnell said there were also fears fracking would damage the region's "clean and green" image.

Land tax reform to benefit West Australian farmers who can process goods on farm
West Australian farmers who process goods on farm will now be eligible for tax exemptions under a land tax reform passed in Parliament this week. The reform offers a clear definition for primary production. Key beneficiaries will be producers like grape and olive growers who may have the capacity to produce secondary products like wine and olive oil on their property. Previously, for example, grapegrowers who grew the fruit for wine production on the same property did not qualify as primary producers. But the tax reform will now see producers able to apply for tax exemptions for the land used for growing produce or livestock.

Battle of the senses: do women make better sommeliers?
Are women the fairer sex when it comes to tasting (and selling) wine? Christine Salins reports. It's long been claimed that women have more sensitive palates than men. I recall going to wine tastings in the early '90s and hearing some of Australia's leading winemakers, many of them men, asserting that women have the upper hand in tasting wine. There are some physiological reasons why women might have an advantage in tasting the nuances in wine. Women are said to have a more acute sense of smell, thanks to the female hormone estrogen, and it's often been noted that smell plays a large role in our sense of taste.

Hunter wine country gets $16.7m for road upgrades
The New South Wales Government has announced $16.7 million in Resources for Regions funding to upgrade roads in the Hunter's wine country region. The project, to upgrade Hermitage and Broke Roads, will see more than 12 kilometres of roadway rebuilt, improvements at intersections, new tourist signage and lighting. The money will also fund construction of a new on-road cycleway connecting the Hunter Expressway and New England Highway with Broke Road. Andrew Margan from the Hunter Valley Wine Tourism Association said it will be a gamechanger.

Golden glow for Villa Maria
Villa Maria Estate picked up five gold medals at this year’s Royal Easter Show Wine awards. The show is New Zealand’s oldest and longest running national wine competition with 1,222 wines entered into its 62nd season. In its 53rd year, Villa Maria can attribute its award winning beginnings to the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards where it won its first medal in 1962. Now, over 35 years later, Villa Maria remains committed to being New Zealand’s most awarded winery, picking up an award at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards every year since.

French appellation body considers Alsace Premier Cru plan
If approved by appellation body INOQ and also the European Union, Alsace Cru and Alsace Premier Cru would join the 53 existing appellations in the region - the regional Alsace AC, 51 Grand Cru ACs and Alsace Cremant. The Alsace Vintners Association, which agreed the new terroir-driven hierarchy last year, is 'putting together dossiers' for each individual request for classification under proposed new tiers, said Olivier Humbrecht, of leading estate Domaine Zind Humbrecht and a strong proponent of the change. Well over 100 applications to both categories have been submitted. 'There is no official limit to the number of applications, but it is safe to say that not all will be accepted,' Humbrecht said.

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.

Women of the Vine Global Symposium: A Gathering in Napa Valley
Deborah Brenner is a connector. She wrote the book "Women of the Vine" in 2006 about women's roles the wine industry, and ever since, she's been bringing women together to further their careers in the wine world. "The theme of the book was about breaking the glass ceiling in the wine industry," says Brenner, who left a job as a marketing executive to pursue a passion for wine. She wrote about the inspiring women traveling through wine country, a who's who of winemakers including Gina Gallo, Heidi Peterson Barrett and Merry Edwards. They all shared the stories behind their own labels and the trials encountered on their way to the top.

Solving the Chinese wine puzzle
As a new year starts, Claire Adamson discovers some surprising facts about making wine in China. China hasn't always had a strong relationship with wine: stories abound of Lafite mixed with Coke and a roaring trade of thinly veiled counterfeit wines. But the emergence of China as a world wine player has accelerated at a phenomenal pace in the last decade or so. China has become one of the world's most important wine-consuming countries, snapping up top Bordeaux and Burgundy with an unparalleled fervor – a red obsession, some might say.

Marlborough vineyards cry out for water
Millions of litres of water is being delivered to distressed vineyard owners, as the dry Marlborough conditions begin to take a toll on vines. Transport companies have been inundated with phone calls from vineyard owners who have no water to irrigate their crops. TNL Bulk Liquids supervisor Tim Wills said they were transporting up to 70,000 litres of water a day to three clients in the Southern Valleys. The Marlborough Express reports.

French appellation body considers Alsace Premier Cru plan
If approved by appellation body INOQ and also the European Union, Alsace Cru and Alsace Premier Cru would join the 53 existing appellations in the region - the regional Alsace AC, 51 Grand Cru ACs and Alsace Cremant. The Alsace Vintners Association, which agreed the new terroir-driven hierarchy last year, is 'putting together dossiers' for each individual request for classification under proposed new tiers, said Olivier Humbrecht, of leading estate Domaine Zind Humbrecht and a strong proponent of the change. Well over 100 applications to both categories have been submitted. 'There is no official limit to the number of applications, but it is safe to say that not all will be accepted,' Humbrecht said.

Take a bow, festival workers
Well done, Marlborough, you've staged another stunning festival. Marlborough Wine Festival 2015 was all we hoped it would be and the thousands who attended went away happy and impressed - well apart from those few who had to be turfed out because they misbehaved. But they are always a minority. The majority of you enjoyed yourselves and it was a pleasure to have you here. It must delight the pioneers of the event to see what New Zealand's longest-running wine festival has become: an international event featuring stunning wines, delicious cuisine and top-flight entertainment all in a world-class setting.

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Kauri


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