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News posted on Wednesday, 25 February 2015

A tribute to Brian Agnew
It is with great sadness that we advise that Brian Agnew, Chairman and founder of Agnew Wines, died peacefully this morning with his wife Valerie Agnew by his side. Brian lost his battle with pancreatic cancer after two and a half years and was only 69 years of age. Brian was a loving husband, father, grandfather and brother. He was also a very popular businessman spanning across various industries including law, horse-racing and the wine industry. After launching his own law firm – Moray and Agnew – in 1968 and aged only 25, Brian guided his growing partnership over the next 40 years to be ranked in the top 15 Australian law firms. Brian also enjoyed success as a thoroughbred breeder, most notably breeding the 1992 Melbourne Cup winner Subzero.

50-year milestone for bag-in-box
The bag-in-box has crammed a lot into its first 50 years in the wine industry. From the tricky stages of early development subsequent achievements in tap technology; to the roaring sales success of the 1980s; through changes in size and packaging to represent a more premium product. Chateau Carboard, this is your life.“Before the 1960s, bulk wine was sold to the consumer in half-gallon (two-litre) glass flagons. The flagons broke easily and exposed wine to the air once they were opened, so the Australian wine industry began looking for a better alternative. The credit for inventing the wine cask should be shared amongst a number of contributing wine companies. However, the first to market a cask was Angoves from Renmark in South Australia, led by Tom Angove in 1965.

Australia needs a strategy that speaks for all its wine industry says Wine Business Solutions
The quickest way for the Australian wine industry to achieve the effective and lasting changes it seeks is to implement a strategy that does not just speak for the big corporations, but works for all levels, according to leading research body Wine Business Solutions. In a hard hitting submission to the Australian Grape and Wine Authority as it looks for industry responses to help it formulate a new five year business plan, the authoritative Wine Business Solutions believes any new strategy required fresh thinking that takes in to account all aspects of the Australian Wine Industry.

Grape yield down but growers pleased with quality
Grape harvest this year has started two weeks earlier, with widespread reports of yield being down, but growers say they are pleased with the quality. Although November heat came in when Orange grape growers were preparing for fruit set, producers say this year looks to be one of the best seasons. Jarrett’s Wines owner Justin Jarrett said the grape quality was the best he'd seen in a decade. “Yield is only down by ten per cent or more. Fruit set wasn't as perfect as it could be but for the end result, quality is fantastic.” Jarrett it had been dry since harvest began in February. He said harvest usually finishes in April.

Early harvest for some wine producers
Marlborough winemakers and viticulturists are closely monitoring sugar levels in their grapes as they prepare for another early harvest. Last year, wineries in the region began picking fruit in late February - the earliest pick for most - and this year appears to be similar. Nautilus Estate was likely to be first up, with winery manager and winemaker Clive Jones expecting to start picking tomorrow or Thursday. They would start by harvesting Pinot Noir for their sparkling wine. "Harvest will be slightly earlier than normal, but this particular block is early anyway." If they started picking this week, Jones said it would be only the third time they had begun harvesting in February.

New Zealand wineries award first scholarship to UK MW student
A group of artisan wine producers in New Zealand have awarded their first MW scholarship to a UK-based wine writer. David Way, who is in his second year at the Institute of Masters of Wine and specialises in the wines of Italy and French regions, won the Family of Twelve MW scholarship for his essay exploring how New Zealand can build and strengthen its reputation as a producer of fine wine beyond Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. William Hoare, Family of Twelve chairman, said the entries came from all over the world and provided new insights from new perspectives, but that Way has shown a keen understanding of New Zealand winemaking and business.

DTC sales will snare ‘significant revenues’ for US
US direct to consumer wine sales grew 15 per cent in 2014 off a relatively low base, but will become a significant future revenue source for small to mid-sized wineries, according to Wine Intelligence. The research company’s new report, US Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) January 2015, notes that DTC has four principal channels – tasting room sales, mail order, wine clubs and online retail – and netted US wineries $1.9bn in 2014 with 3.9m cases sold. The main channel is winery visits, which Wine Intelligence estimates have led to 22.5m US wine buyers over the past six months; it is also the DTC channel where consumers are most likely to spend most per bottle, albeit they are likely to buy fewer bottles than in other DTC channels.

How serious is China about fighting fake wine sales online?
Is the Chinese government serious about cracking down on online sales of counterfeit wines? Last month, an agency lashed out at Alibaba, the giant e-commerce site, for failing to curb the activities of unlicensed merchants and the sale of fake goods, including wine, on its sites. But the report was quickly retracted, leaving wineries and importers wondering if it was a warning shot or something else. “The e-commerce market in China is rife with sellers who present wonderful-looking products, which turn out to be of a very different quality once they arrive at a customer’s door," John Watkins, CEO of major importer ASC Fine Wines, told Wine Spectator.

Valdeorras wine council chairman resigns over grower dispute
A dispute over production in Valdeorras, Galicia’s golden valley in North West Spain, has led to the resignation of the chairman of the wine region’s DO regulatory council. The conflict between cooperatives and producers has escalated after Jose Luis Garcia Pando, the now former chairman of Valedorras DO council, accused 178 growers of exceeding the maximum grape harvest yields. Galicia's government, la Xunta, was immersed in industry talks this week in a bid to resolve the dispute. “Cooperatives and growers have been trying to increase the amount of kilos of grapes per hectare, but they have to comply with the DO rules,” said a producer who wished not to be named.

Matthew Clark brings in 30 new producers to meet market and customer demands
Trade visitors to Matthew Clark’s #WhyWeLoveWine event next week will have the chance to taste over 30 new producers that have been taken on by the wholesaler. Matthew Clark said it has expanded its portfolio to meet what it said were "market trends and customer demands". For example, it has introduced new Chablis producers, Domaine Marguerite Carillon, Bouchard Aine and Pierre Dupond, in response to a 20 per cent increase in Chablis sales in the last year. Similarly, it has added to its sparkling wine and English wine range following a 30 per cent increase in sparkling wine sales.

Man arrested over wine loss in the Barossa Valley
A Barossa Valley man has been arrested for property damage after he destroyed nearly 25,000 litres of wine from a winery at Lyndoch. Police will allege the man entered the winery in the early hours of Sunday morning and deliberately opened taps on four wine tanks releasing the wine valued at more than $300,000. Barossa CIB Detectives investigating the incident, today arrested the 57-year-old man and charged him with property damage. The arrested man has been bailed to appear in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court on 31 March.

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