Winemakers’ Federation of Australia & Australian Vignerons vote to amalgamate

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Australian Vignerons have voted to amalgamate to become a “historic” single body.

At the November 13 AGMs of both organisations in Adelaide, their members voted to amalgamate to form Australian Grape and Wine Incorporated (AGWI). Sandy Clark, WFA chair, called it a “historic agreement”.

“The new body…will deliver on behalf of winemakers and grapegrowers of all sizes and business needs. I am very confident the amalgamation will result in a more effective representation for the whole industry – in many ways a new direction – and will lead to an increase in overall membership of the organisation,” said Clark, who will stay on as the inaugural chair of AGWI.

WFA chief executive Tony Battaglene added: “I firmly believe the formation of Australian Grape & Wine Incorporated will dramatically increase our advocacy ability around the hill in Parliament House. More importantly,it’s going to enhance our policy delivery and strengthen our ability to respond to a whole lot of threats.”

Anna Hooper, acting chief executive of Australian Vignerons, told Winetitles her organisation was “thrilled” that industry members had supported the amalgamation.

“As Australian wine enters an exciting new era, the amalgamation will put us in a strong position to support and represent our members in the best possible way. Yesterday’s decision marked a big step forward and one that reflects the fact that we are not a divided industry. We all share the common goal of ensuring we operate in an environment that supports sustainable and prosperous businesses across the sector,” she said.

Riverland Wine Executive Chair Chris Byrne commented that Riverland winegrowers and winemakers had agreed to unite back in 2010, to represent and advocate on behalf of all parties when formulating strategy and policy. He said “there is little doubt, the fundamental objective for all who invest land, capital and labour to grow grapes and make wine, is to be profitable and sustainable. It makes a lot of sense to work as a unit, to achieve those outcomes”

He added, “With more than 80% of all Riverland wine being exported it is imperative we understand the myriad of market places and consumers and that we apply our combined resource base to be the most competitive wine producers especially in the southern hemisphere. Working together we can become the preferred supplier ahead of major rivals, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa. Commercial differences must be realistic and mutually respected but moreover, the key word in today’s business and trading environment is ‘sustainable’. When winemakers and growers regularly meet and actively listen with a focus on leadership, unity, innovation and pride, old fashioned negative behaviours (bullying and blaming) give way to education, growth, entrepreneurialism and empowerment. Co-operation and collaboration will shine a light on sustainability, profitability and growth within much shorter timeframes”

Photo (L-R): WFA chief executive Tony Battaglene, AV chair Jo Andrew, WFA chair Sandy Clark, and AV’s acting chief executive Anna Hooper.