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News posted on Friday, 25 September 2015

Australian wine industry presents case for reform to Senate inquiry
Representatives of wine companies and national, state and regional wine industry bodies appeared at a public hearing in Adelaide yesterday as part of the Senate inquiry into the grape and wine industry. The hearing was the first of three, with the second starting in Launceston, Tasmania, this afternoon and the third scheduled for the Swan Valley in late October.

Gwyn Olsen to take on head winemaker role with Pepper Tree
Pepper Tree announced yesterday that Gwyn Olsen has been appointed as new head winemaker for the brand. Olsen comes from her current position as winemaker and general manager of Briar Ridge Vineyard where she has been responsible for outstanding growth and wine show success over the past two years. Her awards include Gourmet Traveller Young Winemaker of the Year in 2014, Dux of the AWRI Advanced Wine Assessment Course in 2014 and Hunter Valley Rising Star award in 2015.

Spring cold snap a concern for grape producers
This week's cold snap has had local grape producers on edge. Spring is a critical time for vines as buds burst, and frost can have serious negative impacts on the plants. Temperatures plunged to seven degrees below average this week, with a light dusting of snow recorded on the Barrington Tops. Upper Hunter vigneron Brett Keeping said buds have burst earlier this year.

Team Silkman: Hunter wine puts Australia on notice
For a wine label that, at just two years old is still in its infancy, Silkman Wines, produced by a Maitland husband and wife team, has already put Australia on notice. Shaun Silkman sat in the downstairs office at First Creek winery, staring disbelievingly at the computer screen. He turned to his winemaking wife Liz and said just two words: “Holy shit!”

Local microbes give wine character, study finds
The distinct regional conditions, or terroir, in which grapes are grown are thought to shape a wine’s character. But strict scientific evidence of this phenomenon has been lacking. Now, researchers in Auckland, New Zealand, have confirmed that at least one aspect of terroir—local differences in yeast strains—does indeed alter the outcome of Sauvignon Blanc fermentation. Their findings were published yesterday (September 24) in Scientific Reports.

El Nino 'bad for farmers, great for grapes'
The 1997 El Nino, which was as intense as the current one, helped bring on a severe drought in the summer of 1997 and 1998. Geoff Wright from Wrights Vineyard and Winery in Gisborne said 1997-98 was a fantastic year for winemakers, particularly in Gisborne. "So if we are looking for an El Nino dry summer, what we are looking at producing is probably really good ripe grapes from our vineyard and producing some really good wine," he said.

For these winemakers, forsaking the status quo leads to success
In 2007, when Bertony Faustin switched careers, from anesthesia technician to winemaker, he felt like an outsider. He was new to winemaking and the locations of his vineyard and winery isolated him from the Northern Willamette Valley scene. Faustin's 18 acres of grapevines are on a 50-acre estate, owned by his parents-in-law, on Germantown Road. Yes, that's right: The vines are a stone's throw from Forest Park, in Multnomah County.

Pouilly Fumé winemaker to fight INAO over right to use AOC
A leading proponent of biodynamic and natural-winemaking in Pouilly-Fumé will take the national institute for appellations - or INAO - to court, over its decision to strip him of his right to an AOC. Alexandre Bain of Domaine Alexandre Bain in the Loire appellation of Pouilly-Fumé received a letter from the INAO last week ‘definitively’ revoking the right to label his wines AOC Pouilly-Fumé.

China surveys wine industry for the revision of national standards
China is to launch a domestic wine industry survey to address issues including production standards and quality indicators, as an initial step to revise its national standards of wine. In the announcement of the survey, the China National Wine Quality Supervision and Inspection Centre listed the key areas for Chinese producers and related institutions to make suggestions on. These key areas include regulating the winemaking process, categorising wine styles, and defining key indicators of wine quality.

Wine prices in 2015
At the beginning of the year, I wrote: “The producer strategy for wine prices in 2015: Stealth increases — introducing new brands as well as new varietals and blends within existing brands to get us to trade up to a $15 bottle from $10, or to an $18 bottle from $15.” The new brands bit was correct, but I missed on the stealth thing. Price increases this year, thanks to producers, distributors, and retailers eager to raise prices, have been anything but stealthy.

The second label makeover
I'm often asked, “What’s the next big thing going to be?” It’s an impossible question to answer. It’s not going to be the next big thing, but there’s an interesting little trend going on in the Yarra Valley. A few wineries are giving their second label a makeover. Why is this cool? Well, for years second labels have generally been second wines – a little cheaper than the original and rarely as good as the main label.


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