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News posted on Monday, 23 January 2017

Woolworths to break bread with winemakers
Supermarket giant Woolworths is seeking to soothe suppliers anxious over a recent court ruling that it did not act unconscionably in demanding as much as $60 million from suppliers to plug a profit shortfall. Martin Smith, the boss of Woolworths' liquor division, and several of its wine buyers will soon visit South Australia's Coonawarra region to meet with winemakers and industry leaders. Woolworths and Coles are estimated to account for three-quarters of Australia's alcohol sales. A Woolworths spokeswoman said the visit was "part of our regular ongoing commitment to support and partner with the Australian wine sector", and not connected to the December ruling on its treatment of suppliers.

WA Winery Punches above its weight
Willow Bridge Estate, a family owned winery in the Geographe wine region in Western Australia, has 16 wines on offer; 8 of them - 50% of the winery’s total current offering - have won either a Trophy, Gold or Silver Award in the past eight months. The Geographe wine region is a 2 hour drive south of Perth - on the way to its better known cousin - Margaret River. "These awards go a long way to bringing attention to the region -- our wonderful 'best-kept secret' -- and its 28 local wineries. All of them are family owned and passionate about their wines," said Co-Owner Vicki Dewar, Willow Bridge Estate is a relative newcomer – established by the Dewar family in 1997.

Australia leading in top selling wines
Surprising to some is the fact that Australia is one of the top five or six selling countries of wine in the world. Annually, it exports over 400,000,000 bottles and consumes domestically about the same amount, according to the online magazine, Australia Top. Some of the most popular brands are Penfolds, Yellow Tail, Jacob’s Creek, and Lindeman’s. America used to be Australia’s main market but it’s been overshadowed recently by China and Hong Kong. While every wine distributor wants volume, which it can get in spades from the world’s largest country, that same distributor also faces some real challenges from its potentially biggest market.

Australia struggles with farm labour woes
As the backpacker tax saga is finally laid to rest, the problem with Australia's seasonal labour force remains. Simply, there is more work than workers. Getting skilled and reliable seasonal workers has long been one of the biggest challenges facing Australia's horticultural industries. Australians do not want the work, which is the reason most of Australia's seasonal farm labour comes from overseas, be it in the form of backpackers on a working holiday visa or the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP).

Aussie winery is giving out free glasses of wine in London
Australian wine brand McGuigan Wines are partnering with Grind & Co to offer a free glass of wine to anyone who darkens their doors. For one day only, you can claim your free vino at Shoreditch Grind or London Grind simply by saying ‘Cheers to Aussie Day’ at the bar, or by tweeting the phrase to @McGuiganWinesUK and showing the bartenders your tweet. Don’t worry – it’s an offer open to everyone and anyone, not just Aussie expats. You’ll be able to choose from a glass of white, red or rosé from their iconic Black Label.

A Hawke’s Bay masterclass
One of the biggest topics in New Zealand – and around the world – is the pendulum-swing from traditional to modern in wine style. This is never more true than with Chardonnay, and Warren Gibson, winemaker at Trinity Hill, kicked off a masterclass of Hawke’s Bay whites by noting that three of the eight wines on offer were ‘contemporary in style – they have a leanness and delicacy, slightly more reduction, ‘struck-match’ aromas.’ But as with all Chardonnay, from Meursault to Margaret River, there’s a divide between what the wine trade likes (leanness and minerality) and what the public buys.

Marlborough Electric Power Trust meeting on Yealands
Marlborough Electric Power Trust trustees faced a barrage of hard questions from members of the public at a standing-room only meeting on Friday. The trust, which owns lines company Marlborough Lines on behalf of electricity consumers, has previously struggled to draw an audience to its annual public meetings. But this was the first meeting since the acquisition of Yealands Wine Group in July 2015, something chairman Ross Inder thought played a part in attracting a larger crowd.

Queen turns winemaker, producing 3,000 bottles of fizz
The Queen has latched onto the English sparkling wine craze by producing 3,000 bottles from vines grown on her estate - and they were soon snapped up. The industry is booming with the tipple becoming so popular that the UK is currently shipping out to 27 countries and boasts annual sales of about £100million. Her Majesty has tapped into that success with her own her vineyard on the Windsor Great Park estate, where 16,700 chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier vines were planted on a seven-acre patch back in 2011.

Fratelli on Fast Track to promote Foreign Wines
Fratelli Vineyards, the third largest wine producer in India has staked its claim to be a significant player in the imported wine segment too, as it showcased wines from 9 wineries in France, Italy, Chile, California and Australia at the third edition of the ‘Taste of the World’ at The Mansion in Hyatt Regency Delhi, making it bigger and better event than the previous editions in 2014 and 2015, writes Subhash Arora who believes the company is on a fast track to join the list of Top Ten importers declared annually by delWine

Prosecco vs Franciacorta: Fizz Fight
Global interest is huge, Katie Smith finds, but which Italian sparkler is winning the battle for local palates? We all know about the unfaltering grip Prosecco seems to have on the sparkling wine market, but how does it match up to the ambitions of Franciacorta – especially in their Italian home?We analyzed the search statistics for Prosecco and Franciacorta both in Italy and the world as a whole from 2011 to 2016 – and the Wine-Searcher database threw up some interesting results.

Direct shipping of wine continues in the fast lane
UPS and FedEx had plenty of reason to toast 2016. Forbes.com reported Friday that nearly 4 percent of U.S. wine sales in 2016 ($2.33 billion) was not handled by traditional wholesaling and retailing channels. Rather, they were sold by and deliver from wine producers direct to consumers (Dtc). That marked an 18.5% growth over 2015, as DtC continues to grow ahead of the brick-and-mortar retail sales growth, which has remained around 5 percent since 2013, according to the forbes.com story.

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WID 2017