Riverina grapegrowers at centre of new profitability initiatives

Image: Wine Inland Productivity & Profitability workshop. Courtesy of NSW Wine Industry Association

Winegrape growers in the Riverina have been central to the development of three new collaborative initiatives launched today by the collaborative Wine Inland Productivity & Profitability (WIPP) project, that is providing locally driven business support.

A winegrape trading platform, budgeting tool and local coordinator for the Riverina are the first results from the three-year project that is co-designing local solutions with the region’s growers in collaboration with state and national, peak industry bodies and organisations.

The three-year WIPP project – a partnership between NSW Wine Industry Association, Riverina Wine Grape Growers Association, Wine Australia, NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI), Charles Sturt University and Food Innovation Australia (FIAL) – commenced six months ago to address productivity and profitability challenges facing wine grapegrowers in warm inland grape regions.

NSW Wine Industry Association president Mark Bourne said, “The NSW wine industry employs 53,000 people across NSW and currently the growers in our largest wine region centred around Griffith – which makes around 20 per cent of the volume of Australia’s wine – are struggling to remain profitable. Developing a new sustainable production model fit for the future, is essential not only for individual businesses, but for the regions and communities we live and work in”.

The WIPP project is exploring viticultural techniques and resources, business knowledge and skills, and technologies that will address current challenges and help develop future sustainable, productive, and resilient businesses.

Wine Australia CEO Dr Martin Cole said, “Winegrape growing is a vital part of the community in Riverina. When we sat and spoke to our customers in Riverina six months ago, it was clear that immediate action was needed and also how fundamental it would be to co-design the solutions with local growers, so they are always at the centre of the outcomes”.

“We’re delighted to be launching the first initiatives from the project and look forward to continuing to deliver and extending outcomes through other regions so that we can build a really solid foundation for the sector’s ongoing profitability and resilience in the future,” Dr Cole said.

Riverina Wine Grape Growers executive officer Jeremy Cass said, “The collaboration across regional, state, and national organisations has come at the right time for our local growers”.

“We hope to identify any gaps in knowledge, skills, business management and vineyard practices relating to profitability for Riverina grapegrowers, and then transfer this knowhow to assist other warm inland wine regions,” Cass said.

The first three initiatives of the WIPP project launched in the Riverina for winegrape growers are:

A new winegrape trading platform, developed by leveraging FIAL’s Australian Food & Beverage Catalogue to assist growers to find new customers for their grapes.

A new budgeting tool built by NSW Department of Primary Industries, with the support of Riverina Winegrape Growers Association, to assist growers in making crucial decisions around replanting or redevelopment options.

The appointment of a coordinator to be the local ‘go to person’, who will work with experts at Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries to assist with research inputs and outputs, and growers on the adoption of recommended best practice models, tools, and techniques.

The new winegrape trading platform, leveraging FIAL’s Australian Food & Beverage Catalogue, is being launched ahead of the 2023 vintage, with the aim to connect growers with uncontracted fruit to wineries seeking grapes.

Managing Director of FIAL Dr Mirjana Prica commented, “We enthusiastically support this much needed grower–industry–research collaborative project. The new grape trading platform and cluster coordinator are real and immediate tools and support for grapegrowers doing it tough. We look forward to this project having wider benefits across all the grapegrowing regions of Australia, leading to the sustained growth of the wine sector into the future”.

The NSW Wine Grape Trading Platform can be accessed here.


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