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February (No. 493)


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Wine industry has lost its way

The editor,

It seems even the winemakers are not drinking their own product. No wonder wine consumption has stalled. The excellent "winemaker profile" series in this magazine highlights some serious issues about the preferred drink of winemakers, the wine styles produced and lack of growth of wine consumption in Australia.
The response in the last two years by winemakers to the question "What do you like to drink when socialising" has included beer, Coopers, Guinness, gin and tonic, Jack Daniels and only two have replied “wine”. The winemaker's choice of beer was also evident recently at Wine Australia in Sydney, when they were relaxing and not selling their product.
It seems that winemakers do not like to consume their own product or actively promote it when socialising, except at dinners. Could you imagine a brewer at Fosters relaxing with a wine? The CEO of Ford driving a Holden? Or a French winemaker drinking German beer?
Beer is a refreshing drink which all Australians enjoy. However, if the wine industry personnel prefer the "opposition" beverage, then serious thought should be given to the styles we currently produce.
Have we become elitist and lost touch with the consumer? Or is this a Generation X phenomenon?

Ken Helm
Helm Wines
Murrumbateman, New South Wales

The editor
I found the article Fruitfulness is related to vigour of Chardonnay vines from Margaret River (Grapegrower & Winemaker, May 2004) long overdue.
Many of us in Virginia, USA, just pull out acres of vines that fail to continue cropping without an understanding of the causes.
I grow two varieties of great commercial value but very low productivity; Pinot Grigio and Malvasia Bianca. Pinot Grigio sets lots of clusters but all are the size of secondaries, yet "appear" to come from primary buds. In 2003, we had fog and rain all through the fruit set period and had virtually no crop. We hedged the new shoots after the second bud and vines set a new crop from the 2003 buds! Most clusters were full size.
Malvasia fails to set much of a crop except on occasion. 2002 we had a huge crop, next year nothing and 2004 almost nothing. Prior to 2002, very sporadic and small crops. The vines have been trained by cane renewal and have 7-8 buds/shoot. All are barren. Curiously, I planted 25 vines in 1989 and trained them by the Cassarsa/Italian system. They continue to crop.
Stephen Haskill
Villa Appalaccia Winery
Floyd Virginia, USA
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Grapegrower & Winemaker

AB Mauri



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