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News posted on Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Making sense of the myriad new grape varieties
They're certainly creating plenty of buzz in bars and beyond, but Philip White ponders how curious winefolk can face the mess of new varieties that end in O, among others. South Australia has about 9000ha of Chardonnay. Next come Riesling and Sauvignon blanc, at about 2500ha each. These figures are from Wine Australia’s 2016 Winegrape Crush Survey. Shiraz leads the reds at 26,500ha, followed by Cabernet sauvignon at 17,000ha and Merlot at 4000ha. Grenache, the current hotgoss sizzler, is fourth, at a meagre 1700 ha. I’m being parochial here, keeping this discussion local. Even this a bit too general.

Rosnay Organics at Canowindra uses organic farming principles to produce wine, figs and olives
For the Statham family, organic­ farming is more than just not using chemicals. It’s a philosophy that takes into account the soil, weeds, pests and disease and sustainability. And it is these prin­ciples of organics and sustainable living that have helped owner Sam Statham win Australia’s Organic Wine of the Year this year with his first personally made wine.

Winegrape growers vote
Winegrape growers in the Murray-Darling and Swan Hill regions have two weeks in which to vote for the grower-managed committee that oversees the collection and spending of statutory levies. The vote has implications for the future of Murray Valley Winegrowers (MVW).

Innovations to drive vineyard production
Innovative approaches to vineyard management will feature at a free National Wine and Grape Industry Centre vine health workshop in Murrumbateman on Wednesday September 14. Darren Fahey, NSW Department of Primary Industries viticultural development officer, said local vignerons will gain insights into the latest technology available to keep their vineyards productive and business on track.

Robert Stein Wines turns 40
In 1976... Lindemans was peddling Ben Ean Moselle by the truckload, in amongst Cold Duck and Porphyry Pearl. Penfolds released their 25th vintage of Grange (the first ‘to cross the $20 barrier at release’), Orlando released Jacobs Creek and Petaluma was opened in the Adelaide Hills. In the same year Robert ‘Bob’ Stein, a young Sydney builder come businessman and keen fly fisher was turning his attention to the winegrowing region of Mudgee.

Bumper harvest helped Foley Family Wines quadruple full-year profit
Foley Family Wines, which operates brands including Vavasour and Martinborough Vineyard has more than quadrupled full-year profit to $6.5 million after a bumper harvest. The NZAX-listed company controlled by American billionaire Bill Foley lifted sales to the UK and Europe by 48 per cent to 71,000 cases. Sales in New Zealand fell by 14 per cent to 101,000 cases, a performance it described as "disappointing". Sales in Australia were flat, while North American sales rose 15 per cent to 131,000 cases.

Matamata farm boy heads to Italy on viticulture mission
Ben Richards will be buffing up his schoolboy Italian as he packs his bags for a Romeo Bragato exchange scholarship trip early next year. The former Matamata man, who is a double degree student at EIT in Hawke's Bay, has travelled to Australia and the US before but never to Europe. So the 21-year-old is very much looking forward to his month in Italy, where he will visit wineries, vineyards and the Scuola di Viticoltura e di Enologica di Conegliano in the country's northeast.

Managing water in California vineyards
The 67th annual meeting of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) highlighted the excellent progress that has been made in vineyard irrigation management since the 1980s, and it hinted at exciting new developments yet to be fully realised. The symposium was recently held in Monterey, CA. Monterey County, like most of California, remains under severe to exceptional drought conditions, so it was fitting that the meeting began with a symposium on water management.

Is 'The Stag' devaluing the prestige of the Stags Leap district?
An iconic Napa Valley winery is locking horns with Treasury Wine Estates over the name and logo of a new brand the conglomerate launched recently. Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars LLC alleges Treasury Wine Estates’ subsidiaries are exploiting the prestige of the Stags Leap District through its name and logo, according to the complaint filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Northern California. By naming the brand The Stag, Treasury Wine Estates Americas Co. is misleading consumers by passing off its new brand, The Stag “as the real thing,” devaluing the prestige of Stags Leap District, according to the lawsuit filed by Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and its owner, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Ltd., Washington State’s biggest producer.

Loire sparkling wine producers aim to bridge gap between Prosecco and Champagne
Producers of Loire sparkling wine are gearing up for a push on the UK market in a bid to capitalise on the UK’s ever growing love of bubbly. Sparkling wine is the star performer of the UK off-trade, with volume sales up 18% and values rising 15.4% (IRI, year to March 2016). That has been driven by Prosecco, which is up 34% but commands an average price point of little more than £6, while at the top end of the market Champagne has returned to slight value growth. But producers of cremant de Loire and sparkling Saumur are convinced they can provide a quality middle of the road offering that bridges the gap between Prosecco and cava at one end and Champagne and English sparkling at the other.

(Republic of) Georgia on my mind: Wine tourism’s future in the 'Cradle of Wine'
George Taber spent the best part of a year circling the globe collecting wine tourism experiences that he chronicled in an entertaining 2009 book called In Search of Bacchus. Most of the places Taber visited would be on any globetrotter’s wine tourism map — Burgundy, Bordeaux, Tuscany and so on — and his reporting and first person accounts are very interesting. Taber waited until the final chapter to veer off the conventional road map to visit Georgia, which he calls wine’s “final frontier”.





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