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June (No. 497)


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The rise and rise of the Riverland

Dan Traucki , Wine Assist Pty Ltd

Tired of tales of gloom and doom, Dan Traucki, former CEO of Thomson Vintners in South Australia’s Riverland, discusses some of the good news emerging from the Riverland region, home of “Australia’s most-popular wines”.

Most grapegrowers in the Riverland would view the headline Rise and rise of the Riverland with some skepticism. After all, it seems each vintage this century at least one of the big companies has conspired to fleece growers for its own benefit. From ever-lower red grape prices to planting Ruby Cabernet only to be told that the variety was no longer wanted; to wineries adjusting downwards the price paid for red grapes three months after vintage intake; companies failing to pay for their grapes on time; and grapes left rotting on the vines. “Life wasn’t meant to be easy.” The average Riverland grower must think that life doesn’t get much harder. Well as the old saying goes, “it is always darkest just before the dawn”.

At the 2004 Wine Industry Outlook Conference the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation (AWBC) manager information and statistics, Lawrie Stanford, demonstrated that even though there is a big surplus of wine in Australia at present, the indicators for the Riverland are excellent. Stanford’s figures showed that the forecast growth in export sales over the next few years will be mainly in the “popular premium” category (Riverland territory). Furthermore, based on the winegrape utilisation survey completed by winemakers each year, the figures show that whilst there will still be a significant surplus of cool-climate grapes in the mid term, the warm climate will be “marginally under-supplied in the medium term”. Stanford took this to the extent of suggesting that more plantings of red grapes are required in the warm climates to meet the expected demand by 2010.

The Riverland supplies wine companies in other districts with the mainstay of its brands – such as Southcorp’s Lindemans Bin range and Orlando-Wyndham’s Jacobs Creek – without recognition. Now, however, the Riverland Wine Industry Development Council (RWIDC) is pushing hard for the area to be recognised by the wine-drinking public. The Council has developed a new marketing campaign centered on the slogan “Riverland wines–Australia’s most popular wines” complete with a logo and a media CD kit.

NOTE: The complete article can be found in the June issue of The Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker.

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