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News posted on Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Wine producers ‘misusing’ Wine Equalisation Tax, prompting hopes for overhaul
THE Federal Government has revealed some wine producers have been misusing the Wine Equalisation Tax rebate system, in the strongest signal yet the tax will be overhauled. The Winemakers Federation has been pushing for a tightening of WET rebates to help boost the promotion of Australia wine in key markets, including China and North America. Assistant Infrastructure and Development Minister Jamie Briggs said the Government was concerned about the way the WET is operating.

Vine removalists pull out Hunter vineyards
As Hunter Valley vignerons struggle to make ends meet, a new business has emerged from the wine industry's woes. The Winemakers' Federation of Australia has revealed that 85 per cent of grape growers across the country have been unable to meet or exceed production costs this year. The situation is worse in the Hunter with 94 per cent of producers struggling to make money. Specialised vine removalist, Tom Stephens, said he has two crews pulling out 30 acres of vines a week.

Cool summer brings late vintage for Shoalhaven
The Shoalhaven wine vintage is usually a busy, but sequential process of harvesting, crushing and fermenting grapes as they become ripe. But a general lack of warmth and sunlight during the ripening period has meant many of the region's grapes were ready to be harvested at the same time. "All the reds came in on top of each other, so it was a logistical nightmare for a few weeks while we fermented reds and worked out the tank spaces," Two Figs winemaker Simon Hall says.

Cannibal Creek Winery's unique cricket connection
Establishing a vineyard in the middle of a grape glut has its challenges. But, Kirsten and Pat Hardiker, from Cannibal Creek Winery in Tynong North, west Gippsland, have been able to turn that around. They are targeting the $30 a bottle wine market and a unique connection to sport is helping to attract high end drinkers. Hardiker said the whole experience of establishing a vineyard, and then a winery, had been a challenge.

New Zealand School of Wine planned for Blenheim
Blenheim could become an educational hub for winemaking and viticulture under ambitious plans to develop a New Zealand School of Wine in Marlborough. Marlborough Boys' and Marlborough Girls' College have submitted proposals that college staff teach year 12 and 13 students level two and level three NCEA in wine production and viticulture from 2016. The colleges are in talks with the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology for the centre to be based at their Budge St campus in Blenheim.

New wine event planned
Wine enthusiasts may soon have a new event on the calendar in Central Otago to look forward to. A 10-day regional wine event called the Down to Earth Wine Celebration is being planned for around Labour Weekend. Down to Earth Wine Celebration Ltd has applied for $4700 from the 2015-16 Earnscleugh-Manuherikia Promotions budget, the request to be discussed by the Vincent Community Board meeting today.

Resurgent forest fire threatens Bordeaux
A forest fire raging near the southwestern French city of Bordeaux was advancing again Sunday afternoon after strong winds crushed firefighters' hopes of a break in the weather. Efforts to put out one of the country's worst fires in five years were considerably stepped up on Sunday, after fire crews had spent almost two days battling the blaze. While most of Bordeaux's vineyards are situated mostly to the east and north of the city, there are wineries in the fire affected area of Pessac-Léognan, including the famous Château Haut-Brion estate.

Waitrose sees mini bottles of wine surge in sales
Waitrose says sales of mini bottles of wine have soared in recent weeks as the trend for single serve sizes accelerates. Last week’s sales of small bottles- 18.7cl to 25cl instead of the usual 75cl- were up 82 per cent from last year, with its mini version of San Leo Prosecco leading the way at 230 per cent ahead of 2014. The retailer said popularity of the bottles at events such as music festivals, Wimbledon and the Ashes cricket has boosted sales.

Wine investment market seeing ‘relative calm’
After three years of declines, the wine market finally has something to cheer about as prices rose in the first half of 2015 -- albeit at a modest pace. Despite the economic headwinds in Europe and Asia, the benchmark Liv-Ex Fine Wine 50 Index has risen 0.8 percent since the start of the year, after dropping 40 percent from its mid-2011 peak. The wine market has been roiled over the past seven years, first by the 2008 financial crisis and then by a recent sell-off driven in part by China’s crackdown on lavish gift-giving.

Napa committee supports compliance checks of all wineries
Faced with complaints about lax permitting for wineries, a Napa County committee has thrown its weight behind a requirement that all local wineries deliver annual proof they are following county rules. A self-certification program endorsed Monday morning by the Agricultural Protection Advisory Committee would require wineries in the unincorporated county to certify their compliance with wine production limits and use permit conditions. Each winery’s principal officer would sign the statement.

July 2015 Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine out now
The July 2015 issue of the Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine is out now – and is available online for all subscribers. This month features an in-depth look at the Wine Equalisation Tax rebate reform with the reveal of a letter from Senator Sean Edwards that shocked the wine industry. We also introduce the Future Leaders of the Australian grape and wine community, and ask each participant what they are most looking forward to in the program.





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