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News posted on Tuesday, 24 February 2015

More ‘smoke and mirrors’ from AGL, says vigneron
The owner of Hunter Valley’s River Pines Organic Vineyard Barbara Brown suspects AGL’s impending internal review of their Upstream Gas business is nothing more than “smoke and mirrors”. Last week the energy company announced they will undertake a “comprehensive review” into their operations in the area, along with the early retirement of group general manager, Mike Moraza. The review will encompass the management structure and the operational and management practices required to position the business to deliver on its goals of safely exploring for and producing gas resources for AGL’s customers. The Department of Energy and Resources, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are also conducting an investigation into AGL’s activities after closing down its Gloucester test drilling site.

New faces at Torbreck, Delegat, Deakin
There has been some shuffling across the wine industry at the start of 2015 with a number of key staff appointments taking place. Torbreck Vintners has welcomed Stuart Barrie and Matt Lane to its team, with Barrie taking on the role of marketing and communications manager while Lane will head up Torbreck’s Americas operations as vice president. Barrie joins Torbreck with a solid wine background in both the UK and Australia, most recently working at Grant Burge Wines as the marketing projects managers. Prior to this he held the position of communications manager for Chateau Tanunda, established the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in South Australia and was also a wine buyer and journalist in the UK.

Lack of Queensland wines in restaurants 'almost embarrassing'
Queensland's largest winemaker has hit out at the state's restaurants and wine professionals, accusing them of ignoring the quality on offer in their own backyard. Sirromet Wines chief winemaker Adam Chapman said the lack of Queensland-made drops in Queensland restaurants was "almost embarrassing" and one of the main things holding the industry back. "Let's say we're living in Tasmania, you go out to a restaurant and a lot of those restaurants would have 80 or 90 per cent of wines would be Tasmanian," he said. "You go to Melbourne you've got Victorian wine, you go to South Australia and you've got South Australian wine and so on. You come to Queensland and it's like five or 10 percent."

Australia aims to reverse decline of its wine sales in B.C.
The privilege of becoming the theme region at the Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF) can cost about $500,000 (A$509,000), but countries eagerly pay the bill because they view the extravaganza, which runs until March 1, as a wise investment that will influence wine-buying decisions in the province and beyond. No country needs a sales bump in B.C. more than Australia, which is hosting the festival this year. The land Down Under has watched its B.C. sales decrease each year since hitting an all-time high of $131.2 million (A$133.7m) in 2007, when the country last hosted VIWF. Australian wine industry insiders are aware of VIWF’s influence and have been keen to get in on the action.

Riverina winery undeterred by China's slowing wine imports
A drop in demand for imported wine in China has not deterred wineries in south-west New South Wales from targeting the market. Australian sales have suffered since the Chinese government decided to rein in its spending on luxury goods, which includes premium imported wine. Last year Australian wine exports to China fell by 12 per cent to 37 million litres of wine, valued at $210 million. Borambola Wines director Tim McMullen said he was not worried. "I still believe the market will continue to grow," he said. "Their thirst is to try different wines, to understand wines better, to look at new regions in Australia.

Big dry good news for big reds
While farmers struggle to cope with dry conditions on much of the eastern side of the country, it has the makings of a classic year for red wines. Chief executive of Te Mata Estate in Hawke's Bay, Nicholas Buck, said the summer conditions are similar to the 2013 drought which produced some outstanding wines. "Particularly for fuller-bodied red wines, which are such a strong feature of Hawke's Bay's wine economy. These are wines which require water stress in the middle of summer and then as the grapes are changing colour. It's absolutely crucial that we get dry soils at that period and then nice dry conditions right through until after harvest in the autumn.

Sunny north produces early grape crop
It may be small, but Mike Endean's micro-vineyard in the Far North has tonnes of vintners luck. Endean's winegrapes are thought to be amongst the first to be picked in New Zealand this year, as the winemaking season gets off to a good start in Northland. Endean and his wife Shirley, who own Kerikeri River Vineyards on Pa Rd, Kerikeri, have more than 400 Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc vines on their eight hectare property. The Pinot Gris grapes were picked last Friday and will be processed by Marsden Estate. Marsden Estate winemaker Rod MacIvor said the only grapes likely to be picked earlier than Endean's would be for sparkling wine.

Department of Ecology, wine industry work on proposed wastewater permit
The astronomical growth in Washington’s wine industry has prompted the state Department of Ecology to begin work on a general winery wastewater permit. The final permit likely won’t be released until spring 2016, but state officials are working with the wine industry to determine how to create a permit that protects water quality and meets industry needs. The number of wineries has more than doubled in the past decade, with more than 850 statewide. Of those wineries, 13 of the largest have individualized wastewater permits from Ecology, including Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Hogue Cellars.

Three key wine trends for 2015
From questioning oak maturation to the prominence of Port and lower abv wine – various changes are taking place in the world of wine. The big corporate news in 2014 was the aborted attempts to take over Treasury Wine Estates, writes Jeremy Cunnington, senior alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International. The interesting if not at all surprising thing was that it was private equity houses looking to make the purchase, rather than any wine or even alcoholic drinks company. As has been mentioned in Euromonitor International analysis, wine companies’ focus is primarily on organic growth through expanding their distribution.

France to assist Serbia in establishing wine regions
PARIS – Minister of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Snezana Bogosavljevic Boskovic told Tanjug that French companies are now more interested in investing in the field of environmental protection and agriculture in Serbia. Upon her return from Paris, where she on Friday took part in an international conference on agriculture and climate change, the Serbian minister said she had talked with her French counterpart Stephane Le Foll. “We have agreed that the volume of agricultural trade between the two countries can and has to be larger and agreed cooperation in several fields, including France’s assistance in establishing wine regions in Serbia,” she said.

Millennials drive demand for premium wine
Rabobank has published a new report on the role of millennials and Gen Xers in driving “premiumization” in the global wine industry, and the divergent channels that wine marketers are using to pursue these new consumers. In the report, the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research team says that millennials and Generation X consumers are shaping and changing the global wine consumption market. The global wine community currently has a great deal of interest in the more premium end of the global market. “The rise of some premium-focused emerging markets, such as China, has played a key role in stimulating global demand for more premium — mostly red — wines, as rising incomes and exposure to western cultural norms have taken effect,” says Rabobank analyst Marc Soccio.

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