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News posted on Thursday, 29 January 2015

Sudden downpour threatens Hunter vintage
Hunter winemakers are hopeful that the 2015 red wine vintage can be saved despite recent heavy rains. Days of light rain culminated in a heavy deluge over the Hunter Valley wine region yesterday, with automatic weather stations recording falls of up to 40mm. Most white grapes have been picked, but the reds are not quite ready. Winemaker Andrew Margan says the worst time to get rain is when the grapes are almost ripe. "At the end of a day, what is a grape vine trying to do? It's trying to put a seed back into the ground to grow another grape vine, that’s its path in life.”

AGWA looks to secure future for "next generation"
Australia is already starting to see the fruits of creating a single Australian Grape and Wine Authority although its principle strategy is focused on securing long term, sustainable benefits for the industry. That was the view of Brian Walsh, chairman of Wine Australia which came together with the Grape and Wine Research Development Corporation in November 2013, to form a united body that could spearhead development projects across Australia.

Premium wine producers struggling for growth despite opportunity in upmarket segment
Specialist agribusiness lender Rabobank reports that the premium end of the global wine market is still struggling for growth and profitability despite opportunities from consumers seeking to head upmarket. In a new report titled ‘Premium wine – It’s a long way to the top’, Rabobank highlights that wine suppliers and retailers alike are sensing a growing appetite in the market for wines beyond the mainstream, leading to global wine companies investing more in premium wine strategies.

$20-$40 Cabernet Merlot tasting - last day for registrations of interest!
Wine producers have until the end of today to register their interest in the Wine & Viticulture Journal’s forthcoming tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot wines. The tasting will focus on blends made up of at least 50% Cabernet with recommended retails prices of between $20-$40. It is the first time the Journal has targeted the Bordeaux blend for its regular tastings, with the results to be published in its March/April issue. Entry to the tasting is free.

The 2015 wine honours list
Here's our post-Australia Day Honours List, recognising the special contribution our wines, and the people behind them, make to our great nation. We may not have a long winemaking history in this country, not compared with the Europeans, but we have something they will never have, that true blue, dinky-di never-say-die spirit that is distinctly, utterly Australian. It's as Australian as a glass of hot red on a 40-degree day, as inflating your empty wine-cask bladder for a game of pool volleyball... Reports Good Food.

Opposition against tax rebate nothing new
The New Zealand wine industry body is defending exporters being able to collect a tax rebate in Australia, as politicians across the Tasman call for it to be axed. Under the Closer Economic Relations (CER) trade agreement with the Australian government, some New Zealand wine exporters were eligible for a refund on the Wine Equalization Tax. Some Australian politicians and wine industry figures wanted it stopped, calling it a subsidy that was disadvantaging their industry. But New Zealand Wine Growers chief executive Philip Gregan said the CER agreement had been in place for 30 years and opposition had been around for a while.

Accolade sees its Mud House New Zealand wine brand go from 10K cases to 250k in a year
Mud House, the New Zealand wine brand, grew sales 2,500 per cent in the last 12 months from 10,000 nine litre cases to a quarter of a million cases, according to figures released by brand owner Accolade Wines. Mud House has only been part of the group since 2013 and is on course “to be the third largest New Zealand brand in the UK,” according to Paul Schaafsma, the general manager for Accolade Wines UK & Ireland.

Coyotes wreak havoc in California vineyards
California vineyards face a lot of pests, most of them, insects. But a four-legged critter is also becoming a serious problem. It's estimated there are between 1.5 million and 3 million coyotes in California. While the total may be uncertain, the population is increasing. In the Central Valley the animals can be found making their dens in the vineyards. Fresno County Department of Agriculture Wildlife Specialist Fred Rinder says in his county alone coyotes have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage especially to vineyard drip irrigation systems.

Old World influence and New World innovation
CALIFORNIA: There’s an endless discussion of Old World versus New World wines, and what a recent trip to France revealed is that both are wonderful in different ways and for different reasons. Old World wines are restrained, structured and redolent with tastes of earth and minerals. New World wines are bursting with fruit flavours and ripeness. Climate, growing conditions and thoughts on the winemaking process largely are responsible for these differences. Living in the centre of where New World wine originates, this discussion has specific meaning for us.

Boutique revolution puts Israeli wines on world map
Sales of Israeli wines bring in between $300 and $350 million per year, about 10 per cent from overseas exports. According to French wine expert Marc Dworkin, Israel is 'a small country where each wine-producing region is more interesting than the last.' In the rolling pine-covered hills west of Jerusalem, winemaker Eran Pick checks on the vines he cultivates, plying an ancient trade which has been common to the area since biblical times. "For 3,000 years wine has been produced in these hills," says Pick, 40, who is trained in a mix of New and Old World winemaking and worked in California and Bordeaux before joining Tzora Vineyards.

Drought major topic at Grape and Wine Symposium
The Wine & Grape Symposium is underway at the Sacramento Convention Centre. Thousands of people are expected to see the latest trends in the industry. And while more than 14,000 wine lovers are expected to hit the exhibit floor starting Wednesday, the drought will be on the minds of many. "It's been challenging with some growers who are restricted with water," said Mark Greenspan, a vineyard consultant. He works with growers to create healthier vineyards by using less resources, such as water – a critical factor when there's not much of it.

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