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News posted on Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Senate inquiry to examine wine industry impact on Hunter Valley
A Senate inquiry is examining the profitability of wineries in areas such as the Hunter, along with the impact of taxes and regulations. The inquiry will also assess possible failures in the wine industry supply chain and the power and influence of retailers. Another focus is how the industry benefits regions such as the Hunter, through tourism and employment. Hunter vigneron Bruce Tyrrell says the industry has been proactive, but imposts like the wine equalisation tax are still hurting growers.

Simon Burnell’s fiancee values memories
The fiancee of a man who was killed in a windsurfing accident in the South West has revealed her grief over losing the love of her life shortly before they were to be married. Bunbury resident Simon Burnell, 44, died after he was swept away in rough seas while windsurfing in a popular surfing break, known by Margaret River locals as Cow Bombie, on March 22. At his funeral on Saturday, his fiancee, Perth-based Director of Public Prosecutions Linda Keane, described how she and Burnell were preparing for their wedding and had been looking forward to building a home and starting a family.

Accolade to rope in Glen McGrath to promote Hardys Wines in India
Accolade Wines, the world’s leading provider of new world premium, commercial and value wines, will rope in former Australian Cricketer, Glenn McGrath, as brand Ambassador for the flagship wine brand, Hardys, in the India market. The idea, according to Nick Pringle, Commercial Director – AMESCA/SE, Accolade Wines Limited, is to use the legendary Cricketer and his properties to reach out to their target customer-base, “people with disposable income and follow cricket.” The company had signed McGrath as Hardys Cricket Ambassador for Australia last year.

Casella 'excited' about PLW future
John Casella, the managing director of Casella Family Brands (CFB), has told TheShout that he is excited about the future of Peter Lehmann Wines (PLW), after buying the company last year. After reporting a financial loss for the first half of the year, Casella said this was to be expected because of the purchase of PLW as well as other tough market and economic conditions. Casella told TheShout: "There are obviously high costs associated with the change in ownership that have had a significant impact on the overall loss reported.

New Zealand Winegrowers to host global events for Sauvignon Blanc Day
New Zealand Winegrowers Association is hosting a series of events to celebrate the sixth annual Sauvignon Blanc Day, which is set to be held on Frday 24 April. The activities which will include tasting and seminars, will kick off in New Zealand, to be followed with separate events in Melbourne, Hong Kong, Germany, London, Toronto, New York and San Francisco. The final event in San Francisco will be a tasting held at Twitter’s headquarters.

Double or nothing: A look back on grape-driven New Zealand ag strategy
New Zealand's agriculture industry threw down the proverbial gauntlet in 2012: “We're going to double our agriculture-food exports by 2025.” Industry expert Dr. Keith Woodford reviewed the aggressive policy earlier this month on NZFarmer.com. The key to reaching the goal, he said, is wine. “If agri-food is defined widely to include wine, then Marlborough wine has certainly been one of the greatest success stories of the last fifteen years,” Woodford wrote. “During that time, there has been a 12-fold increase in production.”

Rain brings tragedy and relief for Chilean wineries
Three years' rain falls in three days, causing chaos during harvest. Chile has declared a state of emergency after freak rains brought devastation to the north of the country, killing at least nine people and causing extensive infrastructure damage. In the Elqui Valley, Chile's northernmost wine region, the unexpected March deluge played havoc with vineyard access mid-harvest, but it also brought hope for growers who have endured a lengthy drought.

Naked Wines research finds consumers preferring higher alcohol wine
Naked Wines, the online wine retailer which crowdfunds independent winemakers through its customer base of over 250,000 ‘angels’, has found that its consumers are favouring higher alcohol wines. Eamon Fitzgerald, Naked Wines’ UK managing director said there was a growing preference for “punchier, more intense wines with a higher alcohol content than people were used to a few decades ago.”’

Can this bottle make poor wine taste better?
A new product is being claimed to make a bottle of cheap plonk taste like the finest vintage wine. The Oak Bottle aims to replicate the sophisticated oaking process whereby wines are matured in oak barrels, gradually taking on flavour from the wood. The process improves the stability of the wine's clarity and colour, while softening the harsh flavour of young wine and adding a smoother, deeper texture. But while this can take months or even years, the makers of the Oak Bottle claim their product can do the job in just 12 to 24 hours by ensuring that more of the wine is in contact with the oak.

Boom time in the vineyards
After golf ball–sized hailstones battered vines at Château d’Issan in Bordeaux for two years in a row, managing director Emmanuel Cruse was in the market for something—anything—that might protect his grapes. That’s when he decided to try a device that promises to prevent hailstones from forming, Bloomberg Markets reports in its April 2015 issue. Different types of hail cannons, as they’re known, have been around for more than a century in France, even though it’s far from clear they do what they’re supposed to do.

Wine industry mergers lead to fewer wine companies
The number of Australian wine companies has reduced for first time in three decades. There are 90 fewer compared to a year ago, according to the 33rd edition of The Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Directory. The latest edition of the Directory lists 2,481 commercial Australian wine companies, down from the peak number in 2014. Although more than 100 new wine businesses emerged in the past 12 months, almost 200 went out of business, were absorbed into another existing company or dropped wine production to focus on grapegrowing. The Directory shows a net loss of 92 companies.

Winemakers say uniform alcohol tax will be a disaster
Australia's winemakers say taxing all alcohol at the same rate would be a disaster for the $4 billion industry and employment in country areas. But the largest spirits maker, Diageo Australia, urged Treasurer Joe Hockey to change a tax system that has long favoured wine. The white paper on tax paper said ready-to-drink spirits were taxed at more than $1 a standard drink, an expensive, $50 bottle of wine is taxed at just below $1, while a $13 cask of bag-in-a-box wine was taxed at the equivalent of 5¢ a standard drink.

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