Daily Wine News
A snapshot of wine business, research and marketing content gleaned from local and international wine media sources. Emailed Monday to Friday excluding public holidays. Click here to subscribe, for advertising inquiries, click to download our media kit.

Announcements and Suppliers

26/02/2015: Save 20% On Australia Trade Tasting Conference Tickets This Week ONLY (Till 6th March)
Date: 1st September and 2nd September, 2015, Melbourne. Foresight. Ambition. Dedication. Education. 12 Bold Talks to coach you - 12 Key Note Speakers to train you - 2 Days to inspire and educate. Learn from some of the most influential professionals in the beverage industry at the Australia Trade Tasting educational conference on 1st September, 2015 and 2nd September. These presentations from industry leaders on today's leading ideas on marketing, sales and distribution will challenge and inspire you to grow your beverage company.

23/02/2015: TRENTHAM turns it up – Testing out new cutting-edge technology
Trentham Estate recently participated in a trial using a new device that ultimately improves the quality of wine. The Pinot Noir fruit from Trentham’s 2015 vintage played guinea pig to the invention, being the first time it has been trialled in a winery, and the results are promising! Angela Sparrow, a postgraduate from the University of Tasmania, approached Trentham’s chief winemaker and director Anthony Murphy with the idea late last year. Excited by it all and never afraid of a little innovation, the Trentham founder was more than willing to test it out.

23/02/2015: Test Your Wine Onsite for Microbial Growth
For wines with a long maturing life, or wines that have been sterile filtered, the absence of live yeast or bacteria can be confirmed before the wine is allowed to spoil. The early detection of microorganisms can reduce logistic costs and provides information to monitor the process of bottling and storage. This saves money and protects the quality and reputation of the brand. The Promicol Wine Kit, distributed in Australia by AMSL, can provide; results in as little as 24 hours, minimal hands-on time, and various instrument options to semi or fully automate the test procedure. Please visit us at www.amsl.com.au for further information.

Australian Wine Industry News

4/03/2015: Cullen honoured in ABN hall of fame
In the lead up to International Women’s Day, on Sunday 8 March, the Australian Businesswomen’s Network (ABN) has launched its annual Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame which recognises the achievements of 18 female entrepreneurs from diverse industries. Representing the wine industry is Vanya Cullen, founder of biodynamic Western Australian winery Cullen Wines. Cullen has been inducted into the ABN 2015 Hall of Fame for her “entrepreneurial finesse” as well as her dedication to producing wine for climate conscious consumers.

4/03/2015: Vinteloper Urban Winery Project in Melbourne
After three successful years in Adelaide, the Vinteloper Urban Winery Project #VUWP will open for a three night season in Melbourne from March 4, bringing together food and wine in a ritual feast of cuisines. With influences from both east and west, a combination of smoke, charcoal, grapes and oak will deliver a complete olfactory assault. Vinteloper will immerse you in fine wine while culinary tailors Pot & Pan will provide the incredible feast.

4/03/2015: Wine industry pushes for flexible, simple labour framework
Wine industry bodies will use an upcoming review into Australia's industrial relations framework to push for a simpler, more flexible set of rules. The Federal Government instructed the Productivity Commission to look into the IR framework, which was welcomed by the National Farmers Federation. Now the Winemakers Federation of Australia and the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) are seeking feedback from industry, to form part of a submission to the review.

4/03/2015: Cask party wrap up
At the recent Ask for Cask party in the Sydney suburb of Vaucluse, a crowd of industry figures and wine enthusiasts gathered to wish goon a happy 50th birthday. The organisers, a group of leading wine producers and a packaging company, believe it’s time for the humble wine cask to take its place alongside Holden, meat pies and the Hills Hoist as an Australian classic. Proceedings were bathed in the eastern suburbs’ perpetual mid-morning chardonnay glow. As the speeches began, it seemed cask wine was ready to slip into respectable middle age.

4/03/2015: Marketing tipped to be key in wine industry
After years of struggling to be profitable, Australia's wine industry is being blessed by a lower local currency and the export opportunity of recently-inked free trade agreements. But some analysts say if it is to really turn its fortunes around, the local industry will need to transition away from being a bulk supplier of lower value wine and increase sales of premium bottled wines. John Hart, a partner with consultancy group Ferrier Hodson, specialising in the wine industry, says fierce export competition will make achieving that transition a big challenge, but despite that he sees cause for optimism.

3/03/2015: What consumers want: premium and local
Marketers need to take on new consumer trends and adapt to a changing market, according to a new Wine Intelligence study released today. The Wine Intelligence Global Consumer Trends report has spotted nine trends among alcohol consumers, each with different implications for the drinks industry. “We’re focusing on what’s happening already, sometimes at the fringes of consumer behaviour, sometimes nearer the mainstream,” explains Lulie Halstead, Wine Intelligence chief executive offier. Although the mass market appears to be shifting towards globalisation, Halstead says individuals are seeing the value in local products.

3/03/2015: Melbourne Food and Wine Legends announced
The 2015 Melbourne Food and Wine (MFW) Legends were announced yesterday with six of Victoria’s hard-working movers and shakers welcomed into the program by Lord Mayor Robert Doyle. Held at the Crown Towers, the ‘hall of fame’ program pays tribute to leaders, ground breakers and visionaries of the state’s food and wine industry. Pat Carmody, Craiglee Vineyard owner was the only winemaker to be inducted. Carmody was joined by Anne O’Donovan, publisher and founder of The Age Good Food Guide and Miranda Sharp, founder of the Melbourne Farmers’ Markets.

3/03/2015: Tasmanian wine producers struggle to meet international demand
Tasmanian wine producers say they are struggling to meet the booming international demand for Tasmanian wine, particularly the sparkling varieties. The state's 2015 vintage harvest is under way, and grapes used in the sparkling varieties are some of the first to be picked. Darren Brown from Puddleduck Vineyard said it was one of the busiest times of the year for winemakers. "Today we're actually harvesting fruit for sparkling wine, and it's looking like a pretty good start to the season.”

3/03/2015: Treasury mulls sale of Australian bottling and winery processing facilities
Treasury Wine Estate is considering selling some of its wine processing infrastructure in Australia to free up resources to invest in its brands. Michael Clarke, chief executive, said it was not necessary to own the bottling and winery processing infrastructure facilities that lie idle for much of the year, and the company was considering the option of a sale and leaseback of these assets. It is one of a range of options being considered by the company to liberate funds that can be invested in brands or in acquisitions that will deliver better returns, he said.

3/03/2015: Jacob's Creek aces Aus Open sponsorship
Jacob's Creek is celebrating the success of its sixth year as associate sponsor of the Australian Open in Melbourne. This year's Open was the basis for the global launch of the Jacob's Creek Made By film series, which featured world number one and eventual champion Novak Djokovic. As well as the films, which attracted over 2.4 million local views, Jacob's Creek had on-court signage, a wine bar on-site and hosted hundreds of guests at its sponsor's suite. Julien Hemard, Pernod Ricard Australia managing director said, "The 'Made By' campaign is highlighting the provenance of Jacob's Creek.”

2/03/2015: TWE has its mojo back, says CEO
Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has reported net sales revenue growth of 6.2 per cent and EBITS of $85.2 million for the six months ended 31 December 2014. CEO Mike Clarke said the result represented 77.5 per cent growth on the prior period, which was in line with expectations. He said the result was achieved despite the distraction caused by the two private equity proposals during the first quarter. "While the first half of fiscal 2015 included the benefit of the successful transition of the Penfolds release date, we have also progressed with our overarching strategic initiatives to reset the business," Clarke said. "While we are at the start of our transition from being an order-taking, agricultural company to a brand-led marketing organisation, the progress we have made to date and the results achieved by the team demonstrate that TWE is starting to address fixing the core of the business and is being set up for sustainable, future success."

2/03/2015: Early grape ripening forces bottleneck supply at Barossa wineries
South Australian Barossa Valley grapegrowers are leaving winegrapes hanging on vines because of a bottleneck at wineries, as a supply shortage pushes up prices. A rapid ripening period over the last few weeks, driven in part by hot weather after little spring rainfall, caused many varieties to ripen at the same time. Grapegrower Anthony Scholz, who runs a 73-hectare Shiraz vineyard at Ebenezer, said it had been a frustrating season. "We're certainly finding some challenges this year in getting fruit booked and into the wineries," he said. "It seems like the whole valley has ripened all at the same time." Scholz said he was 50 per cent of the way through vintage, but could have finished picking if it was not for the hold-up, making 2015 one of his earliest vintages in memory.

2/03/2015: Winemaker says he is "lucky" after 300k deliberate spill
A vandal caused thousands of dollars' worth of damage at a Lyndoch winery, but the owner is breathing a sigh of relief. Mark Pearce, Kellermeister owner and winermaker, said it was “a silly act of wine vandalism” that saw more than $236,000 go down the drain after a man allegedly crept into the winery and opened the taps on four tanks. More than 25,000 litres of wine was released from the tanks in the early hours of Sunday morning. A 57-year-old Barossa Valley man has been arrested over the incident, and charged with property damage. “The good news is that we were actually really lucky,” Pearce said. “Only two of our Chardonnay wine batches, which were in tank ready for bottling, were impacted.”

2/03/2015: Early grape harvest puts winemakers on the climate change front line
As Hyde Park is transformed into a "wonderland of wine, food and entertainment" for this weekend's Sydney Cellar Door, grape pickers are in a race against time under the hot February sun. Cellar Door, part of The Sydney Morning Herald NSW Food and Wine Festival, presented by Citi, is a chance for winemakers across the state to showcase their best. But for some the timing has been all but ideal. Harvest has arrived early this year and some winemakers have had to choose fermentation over festival-going. "You only get one chance a year," said Ken Helm, owner and director of Murrumbateman-based Helm Wines. "This is the first time we have ever harvested Riesling in February."

2/03/2015: Penalty rates, hidden compliance costs to come out in national review
Real-life examples from the wine industry are needed for an important submission to a national review by the Productivity Commission into Australia’s workplace relations system. Spearheaded by the South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) in collaboration with the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia, the submission will deliver suggested changes on the structure and level of penalty rates, workplace disputes, and the hidden cost of compliance among other things. SAWIA is urging the industry to get involved by completing an online survey, sharing their views and experiences in order to support change.

27/02/2015: Treasury Wine says private label growth poses challenge as profit slumps
Mike Clarke, Treasury Wine Estates chief executive, has warned that sales of private label wines in Australia's big liquor retailers are growing at a faster rate than those of broader wine producers and this is a real challenge, as he reported a first half profit of $42.6 million for the six months ended December 31, 2014. This was 60 per cent lower than the net profit after tax of $106.2 million a year ago. Treasury has declared an unfranked dividend of 6.0 cents, the same as the previous corresponding period. Net sales revenue was up 6.2 per cent to $882.7 million. Treasury sells more than 80 different wine brands including Penfolds, Wolf Blass, Rosemount, Seppelt, Lindemans and Saltram, and Clarke said the shift of the Penfolds release date to October was paying dividends.

27/02/2015: Industry full bottle on intense early vintage
Winemakers in South Australia’s cool-climate regions say this year’s vintage is one of the shortest grape harvests on record, after a dry spring and ideal growing conditions last month helped grapes ripen at the same time. Chester Osborne, a fourth-generation winemaker and viticulturist at McLaren Vale’s d’Arenberg Wines, said harvesting time was cut by two-thirds, a scenario experienced by other growers in the region, which is known for its Shiraz and Grenache varieties. “It’s by far the shortest on record. It started early because we had one of the warmest springs on record, with flowering starting one month early,’’ Osborne said.

27/02/2015: NZ and Australia tie in the Trans-Tasman wine battle
New Zealand Winegrowers injected some old fashioned rivalry in 'The Great Trans-Tasman Wine Challenge' on Thursday evening in Auckland ahead of the New Zealand and Australia Cricket World Cup game at the weekend. The two nations channelled their trans-Tasman rivalry as they met head-to-head in a blind wine tasting. After some rigorous judging lead by Bob Campbell MW and Nick Stock, the ‘dream team’ of top 12 wines turned out to be a perfect split from Australia and New Zealand with each nation claiming six places each. Australian wine, Campbells Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat NV, was crowned “player of the match”.

27/02/2015: Fracking banned for five years by Tasmanian Government
The Tasmanian Government will ban the controversial mining practice known as fracking for another five years. Fracking involves injecting liquid at high pressure into underground rocks to extract oil or gas, and the practice has sparked controversy in New South Wales and Queensland. Tasmanian Primary Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff, who declared a one-year fracking moratorium in March 2014, considered 155 submissions on the subject. Rockliff said there was uncertainty around fracking, and his decision would "protect Tasmania's reputation for producing fresh, premium and safe produce".

27/02/2015: Robert Hill-Smith reveals his wine tips
Robert Hill-Smith, Yalumba managing director and incoming chairman of Australia’s First Families of Wine speaks to Sydney Taste about why 2015 is an exciting time for wine. "Never be intimidated by fashion. Drink what you like but always upgrade. Too many wine sippers lack the confidence in their own tastes. However, my rule is to make the next bottle a better version of whatever I am drinking. Sometimes that’s a serious problem!" Hill-Smith said. "Right now we are selling a lot of Yalumba “The Scribbler” Cabernet Shiraz 2012. It’s a blinder from the greatest vintage for reds in a long time and a traditional Yalumba blend of Barossa-grown Cabernet and Shiraz and a recent gold medal winner in a highly reputable wine show."

26/02/2015: Recovery in Australian wine exports
Australian wine exports to China are said to have almost recovered to levels recorded before Beijing’s austerity measures severely dented volumes, and logistics firm the U-Freight Group (UFL) believes it will be a major boost for the company’s specialist wine logistics services in the country. Data released earlier this year by the Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA) indicates that total Australian wine exports in 2014 increased by 8 per cent to 40 million litres, with bottled exports almost recovering to levels recorded before the full effects of the austerity measures took hold in 2012. The booming trade is expected to grow even faster this year following November’s bilateral trade agreement between Australia and China. Once fully implemented, the agreement will remove China import tariffs on a range of Australian agricultural products, including wine.

26/02/2015: DataRoom AM: Treasury Wine temptation
Treasury Wine Estates has been absent from this column since a $3.4 billion offer from KKR fell through in September, but the four months of relative quiet may soon be quickly forgotten as the oft-spruiked takeover target is spruiked once again. Elsewhere, Macquarie Group secures a local purchase and an offshore divestment, Rio Tinto again slams talk of a Glencore tie-up and there’s positive progress on float plans for MYOB and Murray Goulburn. Treasury Wine Estates has never been far away from the M&A rumour mill since its demerger from Foster’s in 2011 and while talk has gone cold since a $3.4bn bid from KKR was abandoned last year, speculation is starting to swirl of another attempt for control from the private equity firm despite a reported 12-month ‘no action’ agreement.

26/02/2015: Record early vintage for Jim Barry
Winemaking is all about predicting the unpredictable, but for Clare’s Jim Barry Wines, fermenting Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon in February was outside the realm of possibility. Nancy Barry, Matriarch, said the early vintage has been an unreal experience. “I thought I'd seen it all after 65 vintages,” Nancy said. "But I was truly shocked when I visited the winery that Jim and I built in 1973, to find it was almost at capacity by the middle of February." According to Nancy's son Peter Barry, Jim Barry Wines managing director, the Clare Valley has experienced some unusual weather in the lead up to the 2015 vintage. "We had a very dry spring which was ideal for budburst and this led into our coolest January in 23 years, although rainfall remained very low" Peter said.

26/02/2015: Campaign for Champagne Jayne launched
Supporters of “Champagne Jayne” have launched a fundraising campaign to help the wine communicator during her ongoing legal battle with the Champagne bureau. Launched this week via GoFundMe.com, funds raised from the campaign, titled “Jayne vs Goliath” will be put towards the wine writer and educator’s escalating legal fees. In its first day, the campaign raised AU$275 of a $40,000 target. “She is fighting to protect herself from bankruptcy and defend both her integrity and business from the bullying behaviour of the CIVC,” said Diane Lofts, secretary at Wine Guild Victoria. Born Rachel Jayne Powell, Champagne Jayne is unable to rally support herself due to a gagging order imposed by Melbourne Federal Court.

26/02/2015: AGWA extends applications for Future Leaders
Future Leaders, a leadership development program for people in the grape and wine sector who are early to mid-career, has extended its application deadline to March 17, 2015. Funded by the sector and coordinated by The Australian Grape and Wine Authority (AGWA), Future Leaders will be offered to 15 applicants with open, creative, inquisitive minds and already demonstrating leadership potential. Over the past ten years, the program has produced 75 alumni from the grape and wine community: winemakers; grapegrowers and viticulturists; business managers and marketers; suppliers and researchers. Tom Ward, Swinging Bridges’ winemaker who was part of the third Future Leaders intake in 2009, said the program for him was life changing.

25/02/2015: A tribute to Brian Agnew
It is with great sadness that we advise that Brian Agnew, Chairman and founder of Agnew Wines, died peacefully this morning with his wife Valerie Agnew by his side. Brian lost his battle with pancreatic cancer after two and a half years and was only 69 years of age. Brian was a loving husband, father, grandfather and brother. He was also a very popular businessman spanning across various industries including law, horse-racing and the wine industry. After launching his own law firm – Moray and Agnew – in 1968 and aged only 25, Brian guided his growing partnership over the next 40 years to be ranked in the top 15 Australian law firms. Brian also enjoyed success as a thoroughbred breeder, most notably breeding the 1992 Melbourne Cup winner Subzero.

25/02/2015: 50-year milestone for bag-in-box
The bag-in-box has crammed a lot into its first 50 years in the wine industry. From the tricky stages of early development subsequent achievements in tap technology; to the roaring sales success of the 1980s; through changes in size and packaging to represent a more premium product. Chateau Carboard, this is your life.“Before the 1960s, bulk wine was sold to the consumer in half-gallon (two-litre) glass flagons. The flagons broke easily and exposed wine to the air once they were opened, so the Australian wine industry began looking for a better alternative. The credit for inventing the wine cask should be shared amongst a number of contributing wine companies. However, the first to market a cask was Angoves from Renmark in South Australia, led by Tom Angove in 1965.

25/02/2015: Australia needs a strategy that speaks for all its wine industry says Wine Business Solutions
The quickest way for the Australian wine industry to achieve the effective and lasting changes it seeks is to implement a strategy that does not just speak for the big corporations, but works for all levels, according to leading research body Wine Business Solutions. In a hard hitting submission to the Australian Grape and Wine Authority as it looks for industry responses to help it formulate a new five year business plan, the authoritative Wine Business Solutions believes any new strategy required fresh thinking that takes in to account all aspects of the Australian Wine Industry.

25/02/2015: Grape yield down but growers pleased with quality
Grape harvest this year has started two weeks earlier, with widespread reports of yield being down, but growers say they are pleased with the quality. Although November heat came in when Orange grape growers were preparing for fruit set, producers say this year looks to be one of the best seasons. Jarrett’s Wines owner Justin Jarrett said the grape quality was the best he'd seen in a decade. “Yield is only down by ten per cent or more. Fruit set wasn't as perfect as it could be but for the end result, quality is fantastic.” Jarrett it had been dry since harvest began in February. He said harvest usually finishes in April.

25/02/2015: Man arrested over wine loss in the Barossa Valley
A Barossa Valley man has been arrested for property damage after he destroyed nearly 25,000 litres of wine from a winery at Lyndoch. Police will allege the man entered the winery in the early hours of Sunday morning and deliberately opened taps on four wine tanks releasing the wine valued at more than $300,000. Barossa CIB Detectives investigating the incident, today arrested the 57-year-old man and charged him with property damage. The arrested man has been bailed to appear in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court on 31 March.

24/02/2015: More ‘smoke and mirrors’ from AGL, says vigneron
The owner of Hunter Valley’s River Pines Organic Vineyard Barbara Brown suspects AGL’s impending internal review of their Upstream Gas business is nothing more than “smoke and mirrors”. Last week the energy company announced they will undertake a “comprehensive review” into their operations in the area, along with the early retirement of group general manager, Mike Moraza. The review will encompass the management structure and the operational and management practices required to position the business to deliver on its goals of safely exploring for and producing gas resources for AGL’s customers. The Department of Energy and Resources, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are also conducting an investigation into AGL’s activities after closing down its Gloucester test drilling site.

24/02/2015: New faces at Torbreck, Delegat, Deakin
There has been some shuffling across the wine industry at the start of 2015 with a number of key staff appointments taking place. Torbreck Vintners has welcomed Stuart Barrie and Matt Lane to its team, with Barrie taking on the role of marketing and communications manager while Lane will head up Torbreck’s Americas operations as vice president. Barrie joins Torbreck with a solid wine background in both the UK and Australia, most recently working at Grant Burge Wines as the marketing projects managers. Prior to this he held the position of communications manager for Chateau Tanunda, established the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in South Australia and was also a wine buyer and journalist in the UK.

24/02/2015: Lack of Queensland wines in restaurants 'almost embarrassing'
Queensland's largest winemaker has hit out at the state's restaurants and wine professionals, accusing them of ignoring the quality on offer in their own backyard. Sirromet Wines chief winemaker Adam Chapman said the lack of Queensland-made drops in Queensland restaurants was "almost embarrassing" and one of the main things holding the industry back. "Let's say we're living in Tasmania, you go out to a restaurant and a lot of those restaurants would have 80 or 90 per cent of wines would be Tasmanian," he said. "You go to Melbourne you've got Victorian wine, you go to South Australia and you've got South Australian wine and so on. You come to Queensland and it's like five or 10 percent."

24/02/2015: Australia aims to reverse decline of its wine sales in B.C.
The privilege of becoming the theme region at the Vancouver International Wine Festival (VIWF) can cost about $500,000 (A$509,000), but countries eagerly pay the bill because they view the extravaganza, which runs until March 1, as a wise investment that will influence wine-buying decisions in the province and beyond. No country needs a sales bump in B.C. more than Australia, which is hosting the festival this year. The land Down Under has watched its B.C. sales decrease each year since hitting an all-time high of $131.2 million (A$133.7m) in 2007, when the country last hosted VIWF. Australian wine industry insiders are aware of VIWF’s influence and have been keen to get in on the action.

24/02/2015: Riverina winery undeterred by China's slowing wine imports
A drop in demand for imported wine in China has not deterred wineries in south-west New South Wales from targeting the market. Australian sales have suffered since the Chinese government decided to rein in its spending on luxury goods, which includes premium imported wine. Last year Australian wine exports to China fell by 12 per cent to 37 million litres of wine, valued at $210 million. Borambola Wines director Tim McMullen said he was not worried. "I still believe the market will continue to grow," he said. "Their thirst is to try different wines, to understand wines better, to look at new regions in Australia.

23/02/2015: North American wine drinkers to 'savour' Australia's best drops at the Vancouver International Wine Festival
Up to 30,000 North American wine lovers are set to sample Australia's best drops at the Vancouver International Wine Festival. The 10-day festival, one of North America's biggest food and wine events, has selected Australia as this year's feature country. Around 55 Australian wineries from regions including the Barossa Valley and McClaren Vale will be represented as part of the 'Savour Australia' campaign. Wine Australia's regional director for North America Angela Slade said it was a huge opportunity to boost Australia's presence in the Canadian market. "For imports into Canada, Australia is number four in volume, just behind Italy, the US and France," she said.

23/02/2015: Harvest season kicks off on Mornington Peninsula
The 2015 harvest has started with the region’s first grapes of the season being hand-picked at Yabby Lake Vineyard. Up to 40 people began picking Pinot Gris grapes at the Tuerong winery last Wednesday (February 18). The vineyard’s group viticulturalist Keith Harris said the harvest would last about three weeks with pickers moving on to chardonnay grapes and then Pinot Noir grapes. Harris said Yabby Lake usually kicked off the harvest for the Mornington Peninsula. “We’re a little further north and we get slightly warmer temperatures here so the grapes are ready sooner,” he said. The results of the 2015 harvest will be closely watched by wine aficionados with the winery’s 2013 Block 2 Pinot Noir taking out six trophies at the Sydney Royal Wine Show earlier this month.

23/02/2015: Sale time for 2,000 megs in the Swan River irrigation scheme on Tasmania's East Coast
Next month is crunch time for the Swan Valley irrigation scheme on Tasmania's East Coast. Having passed its business case, farmers now have from the 2nd to the 29th of March to commit to buying 2,000 megalitres, if the scheme is to be built. Tim Lyne from Spring Vale vineyard at Cranbrook is the farmer representative for the scheme. He said more than 20 title holders expressed an early interest in investing in the $17 million scheme, with water offered at $1,500 a megalitre. Lyne is confident they will go ahead and sign on the dotted line. "I think everyone is very positive about the strong economic value it can add to the region" he said. "The biggest benefit out of this water is the surety.”

23/02/2015: Australia’s first Cognac-style aged spirit release
Bass & Flinders will release Australia’s first aged grape spirit, Ochre at the Melbourne Food & Wine Festival. This rare first vintage spirit is double distilled in an Alembic still on the Mornington Peninsula from Chardonnay grapes. The resulting deep golden colour of the spirit reflects not only the name of the product, Ochre but also the rich red soil that is prevalent in the Red Hill wine growing region. Ochre is the product of a long labour of love by Bass & Flinders distillers Bob Laing and Wayne Klintworth. They have followed French methodology whilst pioneering certain techniques in the process to ensure this spirit has a unique Australian twist which is, beyond doubt, revolutionary.

23/02/2015: Harvest hopes for vintage crop
The first berries of the season are coming off the vines and hopes are high among the region’s winemakers that 2015 will be a top vintage. Last few weeks saw the start of the grape harvest, with the whites starting to come off the vines. And by all accounts the season has been kind to growers, with no extreme weather events to contend with. Moppity Vineyards’ Jason Brown said he thinks this year could be among their best. “We started last week with the Chardonnay grapes and reds for the Rose... and we’re just getting ready to start out Shiraz,” he said. “It’s shaping up to be a really good vintage.

20/02/2015: Farmers prepare as Cyclone Marcia bears down on Queensland coast
Farmers are preparing for the arrival of Tropical Cyclone Marcia, which is expected to cross the Queensland coast on Friday morning. The Bureau of Meteorology is predicting falls of more than 300 millimetres, from Mackay to the New South Wales border. In the Gladstone region, farmers are growing worried about how much soil erosion will occur in the wake of the cyclone's soaking rains. Gecko Valley winery owner Tony McRae said with the soil already saturated, further heavy rain could cause serious damage. "I'm very concerned actually. We've had quite good rain this year, 70 millimetres of spring rain and 500 millimetres of summer rain," he said. "All the dams are full, the main Awoonga Dam has already overflowed, and nobody needs any more rain. This is just going to cause erosion, so nobody wants a cyclone and nobody wants any of this rain either."

20/02/2015: Fracking inquiry will take societal fear and impact on regional branding into account
A parliamentary inquiry into fracking in the south-east of South Australia will take societal attitudes into account when it makes recommendations to the State Government. Fracking is a mining practice that involves using a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to release gas from deep inside the earth. Factions of the south-east community have held multiple protests, expressing concern fracking would contaminate water supplies and compromise primary industries. But South Australian Greens leader Mark Parnell said there were also fears fracking would damage the region's "clean and green" image.

20/02/2015: Land tax reform to benefit West Australian farmers who can process goods on farm
West Australian farmers who process goods on farm will now be eligible for tax exemptions under a land tax reform passed in Parliament this week. The reform offers a clear definition for primary production. Key beneficiaries will be producers like grape and olive growers who may have the capacity to produce secondary products like wine and olive oil on their property. Previously, for example, grapegrowers who grew the fruit for wine production on the same property did not qualify as primary producers. But the tax reform will now see producers able to apply for tax exemptions for the land used for growing produce or livestock.

20/02/2015: Battle of the senses: do women make better sommeliers?
Are women the fairer sex when it comes to tasting (and selling) wine? Christine Salins reports. It's long been claimed that women have more sensitive palates than men. I recall going to wine tastings in the early '90s and hearing some of Australia's leading winemakers, many of them men, asserting that women have the upper hand in tasting wine. There are some physiological reasons why women might have an advantage in tasting the nuances in wine. Women are said to have a more acute sense of smell, thanks to the female hormone estrogen, and it's often been noted that smell plays a large role in our sense of taste.

20/02/2015: Hunter wine country gets $16.7m for road upgrades
The New South Wales Government has announced $16.7 million in Resources for Regions funding to upgrade roads in the Hunter's wine country region. The project, to upgrade Hermitage and Broke Roads, will see more than 12 kilometres of roadway rebuilt, improvements at intersections, new tourist signage and lighting. The money will also fund construction of a new on-road cycleway connecting the Hunter Expressway and New England Highway with Broke Road. Andrew Margan from the Hunter Valley Wine Tourism Association said it will be a gamechanger.

19/02/2015: Winemakers say a focus on marketing is the way to fix the industry
The Winemakers Federation of Australia (WFA) says it is time to spend more money on marketing to win back overseas wine drinkers. The local industry has been in a slump for years, and, ahead of the May Budget, is calling for changes to how government funds marketing activities. Paul Evans, WFA chief executive officer, said growing demand for wine was the key. "We're really focusing on demand for wine in our traditional markets, particularly North America, so the US and Canada, but also capitalising on the emerging Asian markets like China," he said.

19/02/2015: Australian Vintage pulls back from bulk to focus on branded wine in UK
Australian Vintage is pulling back from bulk wine sales in the UK to focus on its core branded range as prices sink. Posting its global half year results for the six months to December 31, 2014, the company saw net profits after tax increase from $4 million to $4.4m, with total revenues up 16 per cent to $121.7m. Neil McGuigan, Australian Vintage president, sounded a note of caution, saying: “The continued growth of our key brands is very encouraging. However, due to the higher cost of our 2014 vintage and some large bulk wine sale, the improved sales did not directly translate into improved margin dollars.”

19/02/2015: First Prosecco wine to be produced in the South East
Prosecco wine is the second biggest selling sparkling wine in world, after champagne. It was once only grown in the North-East of Italy, but in recent years, other countries have started to produce Prosecco including Brazil, Romania, Argentina and Australia. Our region is known for producing quality red wines but for the first time, a Limestone Coast winery is producing a Prosecco wine, which is due to be released soon. Winemaker Peta Baverstock was a finalist in the Vin de Champagne awards last year and is speaking with ABC Mornings presenter Rebekah Lowe…

19/02/2015: Sweetwater, the world class Hunter Valley vineyard estate has $30 million hopes
Sweetwater, a world class winery located in the rolling hills of the Hunter Valley, has been listed for sale. The 48 hectare Pokolbin property is being marketed by Jurds Real Estate as the most significant country vineyard estate in Australia. Inspired by southern European vineyard estates, in it is a planned hamlet with a series of interlocking properties of differing eras. Producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz on 16 hectares, there is also a cellar door. There is private owners and guest wing accommodations, entertaining loggia and plunge pool. There is also an olive grove.

19/02/2015: February 2015 Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine out now
The February 2015 issue of the Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine is out now – and is available online for all subscribers. The front cover commemorates the 50th birthday of the humble wine cask, showcasing the history and evolution of the bag-in-box packaging. This month we discuss the latest in vineyard machinery; yeast, enzymes and ferments; analytical services, refrigeration as well as bottling, labelling and packaging. We also feature an in-depth look at the potential dangers of quad bikes and how to ensure safety in dangerous conditions.

18/02/2015: More support for Sunraysia storm victims
The State Government has announced additional disaster assistance for primary producers affected by the Sunraysia storm late last year. Visiting Mildura yesterday, Premier Daniel Andrews and Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford announced recovery grants of up to $10,000 would be available to eligible primary producers in the Mildura and Swan Hill Rural City Councils. This means Victorian growers have access to assistance on par with that offered to NSW growers following the December 3 storm that significantly damaged crops including table and wine grape crops. “The recovery grants will give our Sunraysia growers a much needed boost,” Pulford said.

18/02/2015: Winemaker lifts half year profit
Improved sales of McGuigan, Tempus Two and Nepenthe wines have delivered profit growth for their owner, Australian Vintage. The company's net profit of $4.4 million in the six months to December 31 was up from $4 million in the prior year, as sales of its three main labels rose 19 per cent. Sales in the UK and Europe were particularly strong, along with New Zealand. The 2015 vintage has begun and the early signs are encouraging, with good yield and quality, the company said, and it expects its full year profit to be higher than the previous year's $10.5 million.

18/02/2015: Bountiful grapes point to bumper wine vintage for Canberra district wines
One of the Canberra wine region's trailblazers has described 2015 as "a cracker of a season never seen before." The harvest of grapes in the Murrumbateman area in New South Wales, west of Canberra, has started several weeks earlier than usual with an abundance of fruit. Ken Helm is producing his 39th vintage and "all the right boxes have been ticked" after favourable weather over the last few months. The good conditions have also been a boost for grape grower Rick Mumberson who bought a vineyard four years ago and supplies grapes to Helm.

18/02/2015: Nick Carne takes on executive role at WCA
Wine Communicators of Australia (WCA) have announced Nick Carne as its new executive officer, taking over from Jeffrey Wilkinson who has retired after almost five years in the role. Carne said he has remained closely involved with WCA since stepping down from the board last year and valued the opportunity to get back into the action. “I think WCA is ready to take some big steps and to grow into not just an even better professional organisation but a genuine communications conduit for the industry,” Carne said.

18/02/2015: Two Lands marries Australian terroir with California winemaking
Jacob's Creek is announcing the release of Two Lands, a new range of wines produced as a collaborative project between the winery's Chief Winemaker Bernard Hickin and award-winning Napa winemaker, Ehren Jordan. The range will be exclusively available in the U.S. beginning in March 2015. Two Lands marks Jordan's first exploration of Australian terroir, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge of California winemaking. Together with Hickin, who boasts 35 years of experience in the Barossa Valley, the collaboration aims to marry California winemaking with true Australian varietal character.

17/02/2015: Twister tears through Hunter Valley vineyard
A twister has badly damaged vines and an equipment shed at a vineyard in the Hunter Valley. Footage of the twister at Keith Tulloch Wines in Pokolbin shows wind blasting through parts of the property on Sunday afternoon. No one was injured, although about 100 vines and an equipment shed were destroyed. Keith Tulloch Wine spokesman Alisdair Tulloch praised cellar door staff, who he said first realised something was headed their way when they were pelted with fruit on the second floor of the winery. "They looked up and they saw a spiral vortex, which then started to touch down into the vineyard on the other side of the winery," he said.

17/02/2015: Large vineyards placed on subdued market
A real estate company expects the sale of four large South Australian vineyards to draw interest from major grape growing and winemaking companies. Two Riverland properties, located near Kingston-on-Murray and Loxton, and two vineyards at Mundulla, on the Limestone coast, together represent around 900 hectares of land. Horticultural company Seven Fields currently manages the properties on behalf of investors. Vineyards of this scale are considered large, and properties of this size have not been placed on the market recently. Colliers International director of agribusiness Tim Altschwager said they were likely to draw domestic interest.

17/02/2015: Discount retailers shaking up wine market
Discount supermarkets Aldi and Lidl have brought a fresh approach to wine retailing in the UK that is making their larger competitors take notice, according to a visiting wine judge. Jane Parkinson, an award-winning journalist and presenter from the UK, was the international judge at the Sydney Royal Wine Show this month. She told guests at Friday’s WCA Trophy Winners Lunch that the UK wine retail market had long been dominated by the big four retailers; Asda, Morrisons, Tesco and Sainsburys. But she said the UK market had reached “an interesting turning point” with discount retailers Aldi and Lidl continuing their rampant growth. In Australia, Aldi now has about 350 stores.

17/02/2015: Rob Hirst awarded legend status
Rob Hirst, Fine Wine Partners chairman, has been announced as 2015 NSW ‘Legend of the Vine’ at a lunch hosted by Wine Communicators of Australia (WCA), on Friday. Hirst received the award in front of an audience of 350 wine industry peers at the lunch, held to honour the Sydney Royal Wine Show trophy winners. The WCA Legend of the Vine award recognises a member of the wine industry who has made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the wine business and industry at large, as well as displaying a strong affinity for the objectives of WCA.

17/02/2015: Industry stalwart Greg Pullen to retire
Greg Pullen, the general manager of fine wine merchants Samuel Smith & Son in NSW, will retire on 30 June, following almost 30 years of service to the family-owned company. A key player within the fine wine distribution industry, Pullen joined Samuel Smith & Son's Victorian team in December 1986 as sales manager, before being promoted to Victorian state manager in 1988. He moved to Sydney to take on the state manager role there in 1992 and in 1998 was tasked with overseeing the Samuel Smith & Son business at a national level.

16/02/2015: Fears lowering foreign investment threshold could hamper growth in wine industry
Tightening foreign investment rules will slow growth in Australia's wine industry, according to a South Australian wine broker. From March, the Commonwealth will lower the threshold for scrutiny of farmland sales by the Foreign Investment Review Board, from $240 million to $15 million. It's a move that's been slammed by the Business Council of Australia, which says it sends the wrong message about investing in Australia. Managing director of Adelaide wine brokerage Geatjens Langley, Toby Langley, said concerns about foreign investment were "massively" overstated.

16/02/2015: NZ winemakers taking the piss with ‘perverse’ rebate
A ‘PERVERSE’ arrangement which sees millions of Australian taxpayer dollars funnelled to New Zealand wine producers every year looks set to be abolished. Wine and alcohol industry groups have joined with government backbenchers in calling on the loophole in the Wine Equalisation Tax rebate scheme to be closed in the upcoming review of Australia’s tax system. The New Zealand rebate scheme was introduced in 2005 under the Howard government. Under the rebate scheme, Australian taxpayers “refunded” New Zealand winemakers to the tune of $25 million in the last financial year, up around 10 per cent on the $23 million paid in 2012-13.

16/02/2015: Chinese billionaire's bumper Aus harvest
ASIA'S richest man has become the second-largest owner of Australian vineyards. When the federal government's new register for foreign investment in agricultural land comes into force, one person set to attract more scrutiny is Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing. His companies have been busily buying up vineyards to become the second-largest owner of vineyard holdings in Australia. The Hong Kong-based 86-year-old is worth an estimated $30 billion and best known in Australia for having amassed a large portfolio of electricity assets and gas distribution pipelines. He's also become a dominant player in controlling the grapes that go into wine.

16/02/2015: Vigneron leans on cattle for harvest help near Gundagai
The light is fading and a light breeze rolls in across the vines. The grape harvester hums in the distance. It straddles a steep row of shiraz vines and spits out bunches of grapes into the chaser bin. Jim Coe follows the pair of tractors closely behind, checking everything is in order. His small team of pickers are anxious to get the last of the crop off at Cooba East Station before the storm rolls in. The property he owns with his wife Karen is nestled behind Cooba Mountain near Eurongilly, about 30 kilometres north-east of Gundagai in south-west New South Wales.

16/02/2015: Corsinis count cost of storm
IT will be a case of “start from scratch” for the Corsini family after wind gusts not only wiped out a section of Riesling fruit but took the trellises, posts and rootstock with it. A 350 metre section of Riesling parallel to Honey’s Lane in King Valley was blown over by fierce winds during last Wednesday evening’s storm, snapping star pickets, wooden posts and the base of the established vines connected to the trellises. “It’s 25 per cent of the Riesling which has been wiped out,” vigneron Peter Corsini said. "It’s just on 10 per cent of everything we have here (approximately 22 hectares), so it’s a bit of a chunk."

13/02/2015: Mixed fortunes for Granite Belt grapegrowers
There has been rain, hail and shine for wine grape growers on the Granite Belt this summer. The main grape harvest in the southern Queensland wine growing region is just about to start. Australian Grape and Wine Authority director Ian Henderson said many vineyards were looking good but yield and quality would be a mixed bag. "I think this has been one of the most mixed and varied seasons for such a long time, we've had rain to extreme and then lack of rain all in the same region," Mr Henderson said. "We also have growers virtually wiped out by hail and there's some people who have some absolutely stunning grapes."

13/02/2015: Water flows to Riverland properties as exit grant conditions expire
The end of irrigation moratoriums throughout the Murray-Darling Basin has the potential to boost economic development in regions that have struggled since the drought, according to Regional Development Australia. Nearly 300 growers in the Murray-Darling Basin took Small Block Irrigator Exit Grants at the height of the drought in 2009. They were paid $150,000 to walk away from their crops and were banned from irrigating the land for five years. As growers moved away, they left a patchwork of unsightly properties many of which became havens for pests and weeds.

13/02/2015: Wine Australia aiming to champion fine wine
Wine Australia is ramping up its focus on the UK and particularly retailers that champion fine wine, according to the generic body’s new general manager. Stuart Barclay, who previously worked at Wine Rack and Thresher before moving Down Under, told OLN: “The UK is looking very interesting again from an Australian perspective. It is our biggest market and is a trading hub, more so than in the past. We want to do more in this market. It’s strategically important to us. It sends a message to Europe as well.

13/02/2015: Australia’s top drops announced at Sydney wine show
Yabby Lake Vineyard of the Mornington Peninsula has taken out top honours at the 2015 Macquarie Group Sydney Royal Wine Show, with its 2013 Single Vineyard Block Release Block 2 Pinot Noir winning the coveted Macquarie Group Perpetual Trophy best wine of show. The award follows a successful year for the vineyard, with its Pinot Noir taking home an additional five trophies, including the celebrated Fine Wine Partners Perpetual Trophy and the Champion Wine of the Show at the 2014 National Wine Show. A total of 34 trophies and 1,153 Sydney Royal medals were awarded to entrants, which came from a pool of 2,330 entries.

13/02/2015: Red wine and chocolate, perfect for Valentine's Day and your health?
Flowers, chocolate and wine are all staples of Valentine's Day and recent studies are shedding light on the positive health benefits of the fancy confection and vino. But before you go running to grab boxes of chocolate and red wine off shelves, there are some caveats to these studies. One thing that all studies agree on is the potential power of resveratrol. Whenever you hear about how red wine is "heart healthy" or reduces cholesterol, chances are the study is looking at the benefits of resveratrol. Red wine and antioxidants found in red grapes could increase high-density lipoprotein, "good" cholesterol, and lower low-density lipoprotein, "bad" cholesterol, and could prevent blood clots, according to the Mayo Clinic. Resveratrol also could help protect against obesity and diabetes.

International Wine Industry News

4/03/2015: Wine company Invivo to use crowdfunding for $2m to fuel growth
New Zealand wine company Invivo is aiming to raise up to $2 million through the equity crowdfunding platform Snowball Effect. Invivo will use the money for international growth and is gearing up for a possible IPO next year. Invivo co-founder Tim Lightbourne said the company was discussing the listing with brokers. "We've been watching Snowball for a while and been really impressed with their approach," Lightbourne said.

4/03/2015: An empire built to last
TERRY Peabody's daughter Mary-Jeanne liked working with her father, but she didn't like his industries. With mother Mary, the then 22-year-old did something about it. "We sat him down and wined and dined him. We told him we don't like his stinky businesses - we wanted something that we could be involved in. We all enjoy wine and we would like to go into the wine business." The result is Craggy Range, founded in 2003. Peabody said the wine industry was very, very serious.

4/03/2015: Scientists explain how climate change helps fuel California drought
Climate change is increasing the risk of severe drought in California by causing warm periods and dry periods to overlap more often, according to a new study. Rising temperatures resulting from increased greenhouse gas emissions mean warm and dry periods are coinciding more frequently, the study authors say. And that is amplifying the effects of low precipitation. “The key for drought stress is not just how much precipitation there is,” said Noah Diffenbaugh, the paper’s lead author and an associate professor at Stanford University’s School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

4/03/2015: Bibendum launches a range of wines on tap
UK on-trade supplier Bibendum Wine has launched a range of keg wines, which will be available as of 1 April 2015. The range includes an Argentinean Malbec; an Australian Pinot Grigio; an Australian Shiraz; an Italian Frizzante, Trebbiano and Sangiovese; a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc; and a French Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The keg wine format has been going from strength to strength. In 2014, the number of venues in the US serving wine on tap grew 66 per cent.

4/03/2015: Wine Treasury to distribute US based Terlato Wines in the UK
Wine Treasury a London-based speciality wine importer has added Terlato Wine brands Rutherford Hill from Napa Valley and Grace Lane from Washington state to its portfolio. “We are extremely pleased to add Rutherford Hill and Grace Lane to our small portfolio of exceptional North American wines.” Said James Doidge, The Wine Treasury managing director. “We limit our portfolio to wines that we personally like and frankly, that are made by people we like, and for these reasons, the Terlato partnership is perfect for us.”

4/03/2015: South Africa calls for bulk wine withdrawal to ‘create value at origin’
The South African wine industry is keen to raise the country’s reputation as a premium wine producer by shifting its export emphasis from bulk to bottle. Origin Wines is one of South Africa’s largest exports, and MD Neville Carew is leading the campaign to bottle locally. He blames the global supermarket trade’s drive to cut costs for the rise in bulk exports that has put pressure on producing countries – South Africa now exports more bulk than bottled wine.

3/03/2015: Grape plantings soar
The New Zealand area planted in wine grapes has soared by 100 per cent in the last 12 years, according to Statistics New Zealand. Between 2002 and June 2014, the area of land planted in grapes jumped from 17,300 to 34,130 hectares. Statistics were also released for the area planted in apples, cherries, blackcurrants, avocados and kiwifruit over the same period. Cherry, blackcurrant and avocado plantings increased slightly, from 550 to 610 ha (cherries), 1310 to 1510 ha (blackcurrants) and 3110 to 3880 (avocados).

3/03/2015: Morton Estate vineyard bought by Lion
The vineyard associated with well-known wine label Morton Estate has been snapped up by Lion Beer, Spirits and Wines' New Zealand arm. The deal has been given approval by the Overseas Investment Office to buy 41.25ha of land on Rapaura Rd in Marlborough for $6.775 million. Reasons given for the permission included increased exports. The vendor was Katikati-based company The Wine Portfolio, owned by Canadian John Coney. Fiona MacDiarmid, marketing manager, said the Morton Estate brand had been sold to Lion last year but permission was needed to sell its Stone Creek vineyard as well.

3/03/2015: TescoGate: Retailer urges staff to report misconduct as it launches new code of conduct
Tesco has launched a new code of conduct for staff, according to Harpers’ sister title The Grocer. The move comes in a bid to avoid a repetition of the behaviour that led Tesco to report a 263m black hole in its finances, which resulted in a number of high profile staff being suspended. Dave Lewis, chief executive officer, told staff they must speak up if they suspect misconduct in relation to its suppliers, and said he wanted them to raise any concerns they might have.

3/03/2015: Grape harvesters win $163k in unpaid wages
A contractor for a top Californian winery has been ordered to pay grape harvesters more than $163,000 after he failed to pay wages for three weeks during last year’s harvest. A total of 59 migrant workers went unpaid by Manuel Quezada, of Orland, while working at the Roederer Estate during last year’s grape harvest in Mendocino County, where he has provided work crews for the past 10 years, according the US Department of Labor. Investigators also cited Quezada for violations including not paying employees at least biweekly or semimonthly.

3/03/2015: In France, pesticides get in way of natural wines
TOURS, France — The task ahead of me was a two-day tasting marathon of wines with a welter of confusing labels: natural, organic, organic practice and biodynamic. But for Jean Bardet, a semiretired chef with two Michelin stars to his name, there was little confusion about the worthiness of such bottles. "You have all these young people with rings in their noses who don’t know wine and say, ‘If it’s organic, it’s better,’ ” said Mr. Bardet, an expert on Loire Valley wines. “That’s crazy. Either wine gives pleasure and happiness or it does not. It’s all about taste.”

3/03/2015: Sauvignon Blanc named UK's favourite wine
A new survey of 400,000 people found the grape comes top in every British town, city and county - except Berkshire. Find our recommendations for the best of the bunch here. We were supposed to have fallen out of love with it, but Sauvignon Blanc is back in fashion, according to a new poll. The study surveyed the sales data at Laithwaites Wine from over 400,000 customers and found that we are a nation of Sauvignon Blanc fiends. The gooseberry flavoured grape came out on top, with Sauvignon Blanc named as the most beloved wine in every British town, city and county.

2/03/2015: NZ wine sales increase by 19% in North America
WELLINGTON: New Zealand premium wine and an improved economy have boosted by 19 percent in North American sales to 425,000 cases for New Zealand’s largest listed wine company, Delegate Group. The Auckland-based company confirmed record operating profit of $20.5 million for the six months ending December 31, up two per cent from $20.2 million in the previous corresponding period, following a four per cent rise in global case sales to 1.13 million. North America became the company’s biggest market last year ahead of Australia and New Zealand and managing director Graeme Lord said there was a lot more growth potential in that market.

2/03/2015: Delegat targets North America to build on record-breaking sales
In a year that brought significant growth and expansion for winemaker Delegat Group, managing director Graeme Lord says the company is poised to bring its wine to the world. On Friday the Auckland-based company reported a record operating profit of $20.5 million for the six months ending December 31, up 2 per cent from $20.2 million in the previous corresponding period, after a four per cent rise in global case sales to 1.13 million. Delegat sold more than two million cases of wine last year and recorded an operating profit of $31.4 million - a record performance for the company. Lord said they were on track to reach full year goals for 2015 of nine per cent growth with expanding new markets and North America in particular.

2/03/2015: Will “wine based drink” damage our wine industry?
Wine based drink. It’s 75 per cent wine, and 25 per cent something else. Something else doesn’t even have to be defined, but can contain something like… milk. And it is sold side-by-side with actual wine. You know, wine wine. Don’t believe me, do you? Shoppers are being ‘misled’ by supermarkets selling ‘wine based drink’ which is only 75 per cent wine in bottles that look like the real thing. The Australian plonk looks like a normal bottle and is sold in supermarkets alongside real wine – but the small print reveals all is not as it seems. The labels show that the ‘wine based drinks’ are not proper wine, with experts calling on producers to come clean about what else goes into the drink.

2/03/2015: Vineyard raiders steal 5,000 bottles of wine worth £80,000
Nearly 5,000 bottles of wine worth £80,000 (A$158,000) have been stolen from Bolney Winery in West Sussex. Staff at the winery discovered the theft on Thursday, with the goods being stolen from their warehouse overnight on 26 February. The retail value of the wines stolen amounts to over £80,000, which were destined for a range of supermarkets including Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and other local independent merchants. The Vineyard has been making wines since 1976 but has never been targeted by thieves before. They now plan to install CCTV cameras.

2/03/2015: Dan Jago's return: what does it mean for the wine industry?
It was in a bar on the other side of the world earlier this week that I first heard whispers Dan Jago might be making a sensational return to Tesco and the BWS department he was suspended from last October. I wasn’t surprised to be discussing Jago thousands of miles away in Australia: the former global head of BWS has always been a man whose influence makes him a hot topic of conversation and never more so than over the past four months. In September, the discovery of a £250 million black hole in Tesco’s profits erupted into one of the most explosive stories in the sector’s history, sending shares crashing and leaving incoming chief executive Dave Lewis with a gargantuan problem to resolve… Rosie Davenport reports for Offlicence news.

2/03/2015: Establishing wine wastewater permitting process off to strong start
The fact state Department of Ecology officials are working with folks in the wine industry to create a permitting system for winemaking wastewater is a positive sign. Yet, despite good intentions, the wine industry would be wise to enter the process with some trepidation or it just might get a bureaucratic boot right between its Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Government oversight has a well-earned reputation of being overzealous in Washington State (as well as the other 49). But, to this point, the state’s point person seems to grasp the need for collaboration. “The Washington wine industry is a valuable contributor to our economy, bringing in money and jobs to our state,” said Chelsea Desforges, the department’s winery permit lead.

27/02/2015: New low-cal wine comes with nutritional panel
Sileni Estates is offering wine lovers the chance to lighten up their glass of wine with the launch of a new range of lower-calorie wines. Each bottle will include a full nutritional panel, a move which is rare in the wine industry. “Our Wisp range of wines was created to deliver fewer calories in the glass, without compromising on flavour. Every bottle includes a food-style nutritional panel, outlining total kilojoules and total sugar, providing transparency for consumers,” says Graeme Avery, Sileni Estates chief executive. Avery says his background in healthcare publishing was motivation to produce a wine for health-conscious wine drinkers. The use of a nutritional panel provides full disclosure, ensuring people know exactly what they’re drinking.

27/02/2015: Delegat posts 45% drop in first half profit despite rising sales
Delegat Group, New Zealand's largest listed wine company, has posted a 45 per cent drop in first-half profit, mainly caused by a $10.7 million writedown of its vines and grapes and losses on derivative instruments used to limit its foreign currency exposure. Net profit was $9.77 million for the six months ending Dec. 31, which included fair value adjustments of $3.1 million for its vines, $7.5 million for its grapes, and $4.3 million for derivative instruments, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. that compared to a profit of $17.8 million a year earlier. Delegat confirmed record operating profit of $20.5 million, up 2 per cent from $20.2 million in the previous corresponding period, following a 4 per cent rise in global case sales to 1.13 million.

27/02/2015: TescoGate: Dan Jago to return to retailer following investigation
Dan Jago, who was suspended from his role as Tesco’s director of wine, spirits and beer at the height of the fallout from the £263 million (A$519m) shortfall in the retailer’s profits, is being reinstated and will return to the retailer in a new role on March 9. Jago was one of eight senior figures suspended by Tesco as it carried out a review under the management of its new chief executive, Dave Lewis. The profits blackhole is now the subject of both a police inquiry by the Serious Fraud Squad and it is being investigated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The Grocery Code Adjudicator is also looking into the trading behaviour at Tesco with its suppliers.

27/02/2015: Harvest 2015: South Africa winemakers excited by quality
Hopes are rising that South Africa’s 2015 harvest could be one of the best in recent memory, with many winemakers reporting ideal conditions. Vineyard owners and grape pickers in several areas have faced an intense month, after harvest arrived early at a number of estates. 'It's been bruising,' said Thorne & Daughters, a Western Cape winery set up in 2012. But, early signs suggest the pain may yield a strong vintage. A blog by trade body Wines of South Africa said the early growing season, low rainfall in many areas and strong variation between day and night temperatures have helped growers to achieve well balanced ripeness.

27/02/2015: New world wine regions growing Italian grapes
One of the ironies of the wine world is that so-called “international” varieties are actually French in origin. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah: They have spread around the globe like a pandemic, spawning successful bottlings in locales as distinct as Argentina, Australia, California and South Africa. For historical reasons, Italian varieties lagged behind. Early propagators of Vitis vinifera were much more familiar with France—and to a lesser degree, Spain and Portugal—as a source of wines to emulate and vines to transport to newly discovered lands. James Busby, a prominent source of vines in Australia and New Zealand, brought cuttings from France, while the conquistadors brought Spanish varieties to South and Central America—and later to California.

27/02/2015: Size Matters?
Depending on who you ask, it’s either “good things come in small packages” or “go big or go home.” For fans of large-format wine bottles, it’s definitely the latter. There’s just something about a ginormous bottle of wine that piques even the most casual wine consumer’s interest. And for die-hard wine aficionados, it’s an eye-catching, conversation-starting, envy-provoking addition to their cellars. While a traditional wine bottle contains 750 millilitres, large-format bottles range from the slightly oversized 1.5-liter magnums (the equivalent of two standard bottles) to monstrous 15-liter bottles known as Nebuchadnezzars — and beyond.

26/02/2015: Stoneleigh adds mid-tier Latitude wines
Stoneleigh has recently introduced a mid-tier Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir as exclusives to the independent retail and on-premise channels in Australia. Wines under the Latitude label are sourced from Marlborough vineyards within an area dubbed the ‘Golden Mile’, known for outstanding grape growing conditions resulting in aromatically-lifted wines. The current release includes the Latitude Sauvignon Blanc 2014 (pictured left), a portion of which was fermented in oak to add texture and weight. "This 2014 vintage has produced a great example of this textural and weighty wine, with a flinty minerality to top it all off," says Stoneleigh winemaker Jamie Marfell.

26/02/2015: Wolf Blass rolls out World Cup wines
Wolf Blass has released two limited edition wines to celebrate its partnership with the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. Available through BWS stores nationally, Wolf Blass has rolled out the Captain’s Release Limited Edition Chardonnay and Shiraz to coincide with the ICC Cricket World Cup’s return to Australia after a 23 year absence. “Wolf Blass have a long association with cricket both in Australia and the UK and are proud to support this once in a generation opportunity to see the best players and best teams going head to head in our back yard,” said Treasury Wine Estates marketing director for Australia and New Zealand, Lisa Saunders.

26/02/2015: Online and convenience shopping trends in global market
Online and convenience shopping will be the two key channels that wine companies and producers will have to target in the future in the major global wine markets, according to new research from ProWein and Wine Intelligence. The two organisations will present the results of a major study of the wine drinking trends across eight of the most important markets in the world at next month’s exhibition in Dusseldorf. The study assesses the markets it claims represents 50 per cent or 12 billion litres, of all wine consumed in the world and covers the US, the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Japan and Australia.

26/02/2015: Market insight: Vietnam’s wine industry
HANOI – As Vietnam’s consumer market continues to grow, more and more global products are pouring into the country. Among those products that have seen considerable growth in sales over the recent years, has been wine. Starting from a very low level, the Vietnamese wine market has exploded, with hotels, restaurants, and retailers now offering a wide variety of wines from around the world. Currently, the local wine market features wines from such areas as France, Italy, Chile, USA, and Australia. The best-selling wines are reds with 65 per cent of the market, followed by whites with 25 per cent, and sparkling wines with 10 per cent.

26/02/2015: California wines fuel $1.49 billion in U.S. wine exports in 2014
SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. wine exports, 90 per cent from California, reached $1.49 billion in winery revenues in 2014, the second highest dollar value for U.S. wine exports and a 64 per cent increase from five years ago. Challenged by a strong dollar and the West Coast port slowdown that began last July, U.S. wine exports were slightly down compared to the previous year while volume was up to 442.7 million litres or 49.2 million cases. "With three back-to-back California vintages (2012, 2013 and 2014) heralded for their high quality and size, we have the ability to meet consumer demand for our wines both in the U.S. and abroad," said Wine Institute President and CEO Robert P. (Bobby) Koch.

26/02/2015: ‘We don’t want your plonk!’ German wine consumers turn to higher quality wine
German consumers are prepared to pay more for a better quality still wine, says Mintel, as drinkers become sceptical of mass-production and demand authenticity and quality. Consequently, winemakers in the country should focus on improving quality, and promoting their regional origin, the market intelligence agency suggests. They should also gain an industry understanding of what younger consumers look for in wine, with this category boosting interest in higher quality wines. 61 per cent of German wine buyers would be prepared to pay more for a better quality wine; 31 per cent would spend more if they understood the product better; and 21 per cent would pay more for a good quality private wine label.

25/02/2015: Early harvest for some wine producers
Marlborough winemakers and viticulturists are closely monitoring sugar levels in their grapes as they prepare for another early harvest. Last year, wineries in the region began picking fruit in late February - the earliest pick for most - and this year appears to be similar. Nautilus Estate was likely to be first up, with winery manager and winemaker Clive Jones expecting to start picking tomorrow or Thursday. They would start by harvesting Pinot Noir for their sparkling wine. "Harvest will be slightly earlier than normal, but this particular block is early anyway." If they started picking this week, Jones said it would be only the third time they had begun harvesting in February.

25/02/2015: New Zealand wineries award first scholarship to UK MW student
A group of artisan wine producers in New Zealand have awarded their first MW scholarship to a UK-based wine writer. David Way, who is in his second year at the Institute of Masters of Wine and specialises in the wines of Italy and French regions, won the Family of Twelve MW scholarship for his essay exploring how New Zealand can build and strengthen its reputation as a producer of fine wine beyond Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. William Hoare, Family of Twelve chairman, said the entries came from all over the world and provided new insights from new perspectives, but that Way has shown a keen understanding of New Zealand winemaking and business.

25/02/2015: DTC sales will snare ‘significant revenues’ for US
US direct to consumer wine sales grew 15 per cent in 2014 off a relatively low base, but will become a significant future revenue source for small to mid-sized wineries, according to Wine Intelligence. The research company’s new report, US Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) January 2015, notes that DTC has four principal channels – tasting room sales, mail order, wine clubs and online retail – and netted US wineries $1.9bn in 2014 with 3.9m cases sold. The main channel is winery visits, which Wine Intelligence estimates have led to 22.5m US wine buyers over the past six months; it is also the DTC channel where consumers are most likely to spend most per bottle, albeit they are likely to buy fewer bottles than in other DTC channels.

25/02/2015: How serious is China about fighting fake wine sales online?
Is the Chinese government serious about cracking down on online sales of counterfeit wines? Last month, an agency lashed out at Alibaba, the giant e-commerce site, for failing to curb the activities of unlicensed merchants and the sale of fake goods, including wine, on its sites. But the report was quickly retracted, leaving wineries and importers wondering if it was a warning shot or something else. “The e-commerce market in China is rife with sellers who present wonderful-looking products, which turn out to be of a very different quality once they arrive at a customer’s door," John Watkins, CEO of major importer ASC Fine Wines, told Wine Spectator.

25/02/2015: Valdeorras wine council chairman resigns over grower dispute
A dispute over production in Valdeorras, Galicia’s golden valley in North West Spain, has led to the resignation of the chairman of the wine region’s DO regulatory council. The conflict between cooperatives and producers has escalated after Jose Luis Garcia Pando, the now former chairman of Valedorras DO council, accused 178 growers of exceeding the maximum grape harvest yields. Galicia's government, la Xunta, was immersed in industry talks this week in a bid to resolve the dispute. “Cooperatives and growers have been trying to increase the amount of kilos of grapes per hectare, but they have to comply with the DO rules,” said a producer who wished not to be named.

25/02/2015: Matthew Clark brings in 30 new producers to meet market and customer demands
Trade visitors to Matthew Clark’s #WhyWeLoveWine event next week will have the chance to taste over 30 new producers that have been taken on by the wholesaler. Matthew Clark said it has expanded its portfolio to meet what it said were "market trends and customer demands". For example, it has introduced new Chablis producers, Domaine Marguerite Carillon, Bouchard Aine and Pierre Dupond, in response to a 20 per cent increase in Chablis sales in the last year. Similarly, it has added to its sparkling wine and English wine range following a 30 per cent increase in sparkling wine sales.

24/02/2015: Big dry good news for big reds
While farmers struggle to cope with dry conditions on much of the eastern side of the country, it has the makings of a classic year for red wines. Chief executive of Te Mata Estate in Hawke's Bay, Nicholas Buck, said the summer conditions are similar to the 2013 drought which produced some outstanding wines. "Particularly for fuller-bodied red wines, which are such a strong feature of Hawke's Bay's wine economy. These are wines which require water stress in the middle of summer and then as the grapes are changing colour. It's absolutely crucial that we get dry soils at that period and then nice dry conditions right through until after harvest in the autumn.

24/02/2015: Sunny north produces early grape crop
It may be small, but Mike Endean's micro-vineyard in the Far North has tonnes of vintners luck. Endean's winegrapes are thought to be amongst the first to be picked in New Zealand this year, as the winemaking season gets off to a good start in Northland. Endean and his wife Shirley, who own Kerikeri River Vineyards on Pa Rd, Kerikeri, have more than 400 Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc vines on their eight hectare property. The Pinot Gris grapes were picked last Friday and will be processed by Marsden Estate. Marsden Estate winemaker Rod MacIvor said the only grapes likely to be picked earlier than Endean's would be for sparkling wine.

24/02/2015: Department of Ecology, wine industry work on proposed wastewater permit
The astronomical growth in Washington’s wine industry has prompted the state Department of Ecology to begin work on a general winery wastewater permit. The final permit likely won’t be released until spring 2016, but state officials are working with the wine industry to determine how to create a permit that protects water quality and meets industry needs. The number of wineries has more than doubled in the past decade, with more than 850 statewide. Of those wineries, 13 of the largest have individualized wastewater permits from Ecology, including Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and Hogue Cellars.

24/02/2015: Three key wine trends for 2015
From questioning oak maturation to the prominence of Port and lower abv wine – various changes are taking place in the world of wine. The big corporate news in 2014 was the aborted attempts to take over Treasury Wine Estates, writes Jeremy Cunnington, senior alcoholic drinks analyst at Euromonitor International. The interesting if not at all surprising thing was that it was private equity houses looking to make the purchase, rather than any wine or even alcoholic drinks company. As has been mentioned in Euromonitor International analysis, wine companies’ focus is primarily on organic growth through expanding their distribution.

24/02/2015: France to assist Serbia in establishing wine regions
PARIS – Minister of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Snezana Bogosavljevic Boskovic told Tanjug that French companies are now more interested in investing in the field of environmental protection and agriculture in Serbia. Upon her return from Paris, where she on Friday took part in an international conference on agriculture and climate change, the Serbian minister said she had talked with her French counterpart Stephane Le Foll. “We have agreed that the volume of agricultural trade between the two countries can and has to be larger and agreed cooperation in several fields, including France’s assistance in establishing wine regions in Serbia,” she said.

24/02/2015: Millennials drive demand for premium wine
Rabobank has published a new report on the role of millennials and Gen Xers in driving “premiumization” in the global wine industry, and the divergent channels that wine marketers are using to pursue these new consumers. In the report, the bank’s Food & Agribusiness Research team says that millennials and Generation X consumers are shaping and changing the global wine consumption market. The global wine community currently has a great deal of interest in the more premium end of the global market. “The rise of some premium-focused emerging markets, such as China, has played a key role in stimulating global demand for more premium — mostly red — wines, as rising incomes and exposure to western cultural norms have taken effect,” says Rabobank analyst Marc Soccio.

23/02/2015: First NZ conference to highlight link between alcohol and cancer
Research published in the New Zealand Medical Journal recently shows that although injury is the biggest cause of alcohol-related deaths overall, the leading cause of death in women, both Maori and non-Maori women, is breast cancer. In fact, Maori women have the highest rate of breast cancer in the world. Further, the research highlights the influence of alcohol in other common cancers, in particular bowel cancer which affects both men and women. Alcohol Action NZ is partnering with the Cancer Society of New Zealand in running New Zealand’s first conference on Alcohol and Cancer, at Te Papa, Wellington on Wednesday 17th June.

23/02/2015: NZ and England tie in sparkling match
Rivalry is always hot between New Zealand and England in the sporting area, but competition stretched past the cricket pitch this week and the two nations vied for a different kind of glory. In a tasty twist on the 'battle of the hemispheres' New Zealand sparkling wine and English sparkling wine went head-to-head before the Cricket World Cup game last night in a cricket-themed blind tasting. After some rigorous judging lead by Oz Clarke and Jane Skilton MW, the ‘dream team’ of top 12 wines turned out to be a perfect split from England and New Zealand with each nation claiming six places each. English wine, Wyfold Brut 2010, was crowned “player of the match”.

23/02/2015: Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd director banned for 15 years
Kenneth Gundlach, director of collapsed Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd in the UK, has been banned from company boardrooms until 2030, after failing to deliver millions of pounds-worth of wine and spending buyers' money on fast cars, race horses and private jets. The UK Insolvency Service said that its ban on Kenneth Jean Pierre Gundlach was for the maximum time possible and encompassed managing, directing or promoting any limited company. It said its reason was that Gundlach failed to purchase at least £9.3m (A$18.2) of fine wine that was sold to consumers. At least 1,750 cases of wine were never delivered to buyers.

23/02/2015: English wine producer claims first with skin contact white wine
English winery Chapel Down is producing what it believes is the country's first skin contact white wine. Bacchus grapes from the 'excellent' 2014 vintage were destemmed and crushed with no sulphur dioxide, no enzymes, no fining and no cultured yeast, Chapel Down winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire told Decanter.com. The English wine was fermented using wild yeast on skins for seven days, before the free run was put into seven-year-old barrels, where it will remain for nine months until July of this year. The winery has made about 1,000 litres. 'Our fruit quality in 2014 was excellent, there was zero rot, so I thought I’d give it a go. To my knowledge the skin contact Bacchus is the first in England,' said Donaghay-Spire.

23/02/2015: Canada's growing wine thirst could help trade tiff
As Canada's wine market grows, Californian producers are trying to make sure they secure access. Canada's love of imported wine could hold the key to a fermenting dispute over liquor regulation in British Columbia. A new Vinexpo report into wine consumption showed that demand for wine in Canada far outstrips what the local industry can provide and consumption is growing at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Canada is one of the world's top consumers of imported wine – drinking 32.7 million cases of foreign brands last year – and has catapulted to sixth place overall, said Xavier de Eizaguirre, Vinexpo chairman, after releasing the report this week in Toronto.

23/02/2015: Wine industry needs to rethink the way it uses video hears Google social media seminar
Wine businesses need to rethink use of online video to engage with consumers, a leading wine academic has said. Speaking at a seminar on the use of video by wine businesses hosted by Google last night, Dr Damien Wilson of the School of Wine Business at Dijon University in Burgundy, said there was greater impetus than ever before to use online videos for marketing, but few examples of wine producers using video successfully. “Video in the wine sector sucks,” he claimed. “What the wine industry believes is important and valuable to communicate just isn’t resonating with the consumer – and it isn’t getting traction.”

20/02/2015: Golden glow for Villa Maria
Villa Maria Estate picked up five gold medals at this year’s Royal Easter Show Wine awards. The show is New Zealand’s oldest and longest running national wine competition with 1,222 wines entered into its 62nd season. In its 53rd year, Villa Maria can attribute its award winning beginnings to the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards where it won its first medal in 1962. Now, over 35 years later, Villa Maria remains committed to being New Zealand’s most awarded winery, picking up an award at the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards every year since.

20/02/2015: French appellation body considers Alsace Premier Cru plan
If approved by appellation body INOQ and also the European Union, Alsace Cru and Alsace Premier Cru would join the 53 existing appellations in the region - the regional Alsace AC, 51 Grand Cru ACs and Alsace Cremant. The Alsace Vintners Association, which agreed the new terroir-driven hierarchy last year, is 'putting together dossiers' for each individual request for classification under proposed new tiers, said Olivier Humbrecht, of leading estate Domaine Zind Humbrecht and a strong proponent of the change. Well over 100 applications to both categories have been submitted. 'There is no official limit to the number of applications, but it is safe to say that not all will be accepted,' Humbrecht said.

20/02/2015: Austrian winemaker ups turnover by 70% in Romania
Wine producer amb Wine, part of Austrian amb Holding, ended 2014 with a turnover of RON 3 million (EUR 675,000) in Romania, up 70% year-on-year. The company also completed the development of its Liliac wine cellar in Batos, Mures county, which required an overall investment of some EUR 7 million, including operational costs. It carried out the investment in three stages. In 2011, the company invested EUR 3 million in buying and cultivating a 38-hectare vineyard in Batos and Vermes Lechinta areas in Transylvania and in building the winery.

20/02/2015: Women of the Vine Global Symposium: A Gathering in Napa Valley
Deborah Brenner is a connector. She wrote the book "Women of the Vine" in 2006 about women's roles the wine industry, and ever since, she's been bringing women together to further their careers in the wine world. "The theme of the book was about breaking the glass ceiling in the wine industry," says Brenner, who left a job as a marketing executive to pursue a passion for wine. She wrote about the inspiring women traveling through wine country, a who's who of winemakers including Gina Gallo, Heidi Peterson Barrett and Merry Edwards. They all shared the stories behind their own labels and the trials encountered on their way to the top.

20/02/2015: Solving the Chinese wine puzzle
As a new year starts, Claire Adamson discovers some surprising facts about making wine in China. China hasn't always had a strong relationship with wine: stories abound of Lafite mixed with Coke and a roaring trade of thinly veiled counterfeit wines. But the emergence of China as a world wine player has accelerated at a phenomenal pace in the last decade or so. China has become one of the world's most important wine-consuming countries, snapping up top Bordeaux and Burgundy with an unparalleled fervor – a red obsession, some might say.

20/02/2015: Marlborough vineyards cry out for water
Millions of litres of water is being delivered to distressed vineyard owners, as the dry Marlborough conditions begin to take a toll on vines. Transport companies have been inundated with phone calls from vineyard owners who have no water to irrigate their crops. TNL Bulk Liquids supervisor Tim Wills said they were transporting up to 70,000 litres of water a day to three clients in the Southern Valleys. The Marlborough Express reports.

19/02/2015: New Zealand’s Ara Wines moves to Bibendum PLB
Bibendum PLB has signed a deal as the exclusive UK distributor of Marlborough’s Ara Wines – formerly supplied via Negociants UK. Ara Wines have been available in the UK market since 2011, but the group wants to broaden its UK distribution to cover regional and national on-trade, specialist off-trade, and multiples market. The New Zealand winery previously distributed its wines to the UK market through Negociants UK. Christine Pears, Ara’s chief executive, said the future was looking bright for Ara.

19/02/2015: The all new wine destinations
Building on the successful relaunch of flagship quarterly Destinations under new publisher Stephen Brown, Destinations Publishing is set to launch a new-look annual. To be released in June 2015, the fully redesigned and re-imagined Wine Destinations annual will be the most engaging and informative publication that the travelling wine lover is likely to find, according to Editor Michael Hooper. With a foreword from the New Zealand Prime Minister, an introduction by the CEO of NZ Winegrowers, and input from some of the country’s most highly qualified wine and tourism experts, Wine Destinations will provide a range of authoritative perspectives on this significant New Zealand industry.

19/02/2015: China leads fine wine bounceback
Consumers worldwide are returning to the fine wine market, whose recent downturn has seen a welcome exodus of many less reputable investment funds, according to one major player in this sector. “In the last six months we’ve been selling a lot more into China; that’s all coming back now,” reported Rodney Birrell, director of The Wine Investment Fund, which has offices in London, Bermuda, Hong Kong and Zurich. In line with this recovery, the fund’s investment manager Chris Smith recorded a “very good” period of business from this market ahead of Chinese New Year, “certainly better than last year,” he noted.

19/02/2015: Canada among the world’s top consumers of imported wine
Canadians love their vino — including the sparkling stuff — but when we raise a glass it’s mostly foreign brands, says a new Vinexpo report on the global wine and spirits market. That’s partly because the domestic wine industry remains too small to supply our thirst, while Canadian palates still lean toward traditional producers such as France and Italy — though “New World” wines from New Zealand, the U.S. and Chile will muscle into the market more over the next three years, says the study conducted by British agency International Wine and Spirit Research.

19/02/2015: Crowdfunding: A saviour or white whale for the wine sector?
The hype surrounding crowdfunding is based on a lot more than the numbers. In a modern sense of the word, crowdfunding makes investing a more democratic process. This should be good news to the wine sector, where an overwhelming majority of producers are indeed small entrepreneurs. Recognising that the wine sector is capital-intensive; has an average lag time of around 10 years before the break-even threshold can be passed by businesses surviving that long; and that the primary product is perishable, fragile and low-value and hyperfragmented suggests there is an inherently high degree of risk associated with businesses in this sector.

19/02/2015: Healthy vineyards grow more than grapes
What helps to absorb greenhouse gases, extend the life of farmland and keep soil moist in times of drought? At one of the Napa Valley’s most famed wineries, growers turn their eyes downward for their answer – toward the humble-looking, easy-to-miss plants between the rows of grapevines. Most visitors at the Chateau Montelena grounds may first notice the columns of vines producing grapes for its famed vintages. On Sunday afternoon, however, a group of visitors turned their attention instead to the Blando Brome grasses, barley and other ground-cover plants filling the eight-foot-wide gaps between the rows.

18/02/2015: Aussies look to call time on NZ wine tax rebate
The Australian Government is moving to abolish a New Zealand wine tax rebate that would cost Kiwi winemakers tens of millions of dollars a year. Winemakers' Federation of Australia chief executive Paul Evans said moves were under way to end a Wine Equalisation Tax rebate scheme for New Zealand wine producers. Under the scheme more than 200 New Zealand wine companies have been claiming rebates of up to A$500,000 each (NZ$815,620), equating to about A$23 million in 2013 and up to A$25m a year in previous years. But the scheme, which has been in place since 2006, may be scrapped following an Australian federal government tax review due to be released this year.

18/02/2015: Q&A: Matt Stafford, Craggy Range
New Zealander Matt Stafford has worked for Craggy Range in Hawke's Bay for eight years and became chief winemaker in 2012. “My mother's family had started around Waihi in the Gold Rush area. My great-grandfather and my grandfather were both goldminers. I spent a lot of time when I was young with my grandpa and he'd take me around the place and tell me things – there was always a story about the landforms. And that really inspired me. When I left school I studied earth sciences; I wanted to be able to share what I'm doing and talk about this connection with the land. Then someone introduced me to terroir.”

18/02/2015: Vinexpo unveils major trends
VINEXPO revealed the highly-anticipated results of its 12th study of the World Wine and Spirits Market with an Outlook to 2018, conducted by British agency International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR). Global consumption of still and sparkling wines rose by 2.7 per cent between 2009 and 2013 to reach 2.648 billion 9-litre cases, the equivalent of more than 31.7 billion bottles. According to the new Vinexpo study, global consumption will experience an accelerated growth of 3.7 per cent by 2018, for a total of 2.732 billion 9-litre cases. The top three countries in terms of consumption are United States, France and Italy.

18/02/2015: Indian grapes sparkle in Europe, Australian wines
Seedless grapes from India have become an integral part of certain French sparkling wines and Australian wines. Even as some grape exporters are engaged in setting up sustainable business practices with European importers, many say some varieties have found favour in France and Australia despite both origins being major grape producers. India is one of the largest exporters of grapes. The Thompson Seedless variety, which are green in colour, and Sharad Seedless and Jumbo variety, black coloured ones, are exported chiefly to the Netherlands. From there, Indian grapes are distributed throughout Europe, with a sizeable amount landing in Australia and France.

18/02/2015: ‘Painful moment’ for Argentina’s wine exporters, says Rabobank
Argentina’s wine exporters are having a “painful moment” as fast-rising inflation rates make it unprofitable to ship goods, says Rabobank. However, the global bank’s latest report shows a few bright spots – namely that exports of Argentinian wine to the UK have grown 5.5 per cent by volume in November, with value sales rising nine per cent in the same period. Argentina saw production decline last year, but had a bumper crop in 2013. This has pushed inventories up 13 per cent, according to the Observatorio Vitivinicola de Argentina which said stocks have grown as exports declined. This stock surplus is affecting pricing and has concerned regional governments who are trying to intervene on behalf of producers.

18/02/2015: Europe seeks alternatives to vineyard staple
The European Commission has issued a list of pesticides that are "candidates for substitution" including copper, which is widely used in vineyards. The E.U. has issued a list of 77 "candidates for substitution" (CFS), pesticides for which national authorities must assess whether more favorable alternatives exist, including non-chemical methods, according to an announcement by the European Commission. La Vigne magazine reports that 26 of the 77 are used to protect grapevines. For winegrowers, by far the most important substance on the CFS list is copper sulfate, which has been used in Bordeaux mixture for well over a century to protect grapevines against downy and powdery mildews.

17/02/2015: Yealands relaunches Hawke’s Bay Crossroads with Enotria
Yealands Wine Group is moving is its Hawke’s Bay Crossroads wines to Enotria from Mentzendorff to streamline UK distribution. The full range of Crossroads wines, including the Milestone Series and Winemaker’s collection will be available from March 1 from Enotria. Miles Dinnen has been winemaker at Crossroads Winery for over 10 years, and part of the Yealands team, headed by Tamra Kelly-Washington since 2011 when Crossroads was bought by Peter Yealands, known best for his sustainable winery Yealands Estate in Marlborough Awatere Valley.

17/02/2015: Drought adds urgency to irrigation and storage plans
Drought throughout much of the South Island and dry conditions in parts of the North look set to add urgency to water storage and irrigation schemes that are either underway or on the drawing board. The declaration by the Government that parts of the South Island have been affected by medium-scale adverse events has highlighted what a nor'wester can do, now that all the "easy" water has gone, says Irrigation New Zealand chief executive Andrew Curtis. ANZ estimates the current dry spell will shave at least 0.5 per cent off GDP growth.

17/02/2015: UK wine industry backs calls for alcohol duty cut
The UK’s growing wine industry has called for the Chancellor to cut the high rate of alcohol duty rate by two per cent in the upcoming Budget. The UK is the sixth largest wine market globally and worth £17.3 billion (A$34.2bn) to the British economy, according to research by EY, with wine now the UK’s most popular alcoholic drink. Smaller producers, distributors and retailers say cutting the duty would stimulate the economy to the tune of £1bn as well as reducing the deficit. English wine is gaining global recognition for its top quality, but producers argue that the current tax system makes it unable to compete fairly with its European contemporaries.

17/02/2015: French wine exports held back by low stocks
For the fourth consecutive year, French exports of wines and spirits exceeded €10 billion in 2014, but the lack of availability due to reduced harvests has left concerned producers facing "very strong" international competition. France's Federation of Exporters of Wines and Spirits (FEVS) reported that 2014 was the "third-best historical performance", with sales of €10.8bn (A$15.8bn) – or the equivalent of the sales of 140 Airbus passenger airplanes – but turnover fell by 2.8 per cent, reflecting a decline in both volume and value of sales.

17/02/2015: 1,500 year-old grape seeds discovered
For the first time, grape seeds from the Byzantine era have been found. These grapes were used to produce “the Wine of the Negev” - one of the finest and most renowned wines in the whole of the Byzantine Empire. The charred seeds, over 1,500 years-old, were found at the Halutza excavation site in the Negev during a joint dig by the University of Haifa and the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The vines growing in the Negev today are European varieties, whereas the Negev vine was lost to the world. Our next job is to recreate the ancient wine, and perhaps in that way we will be able to reproduce its taste and understand what made the Negev wine so fine.”

17/02/2015: Treasury Americas says renewed focus on $10-$20 segment is paying dividends
Among Treasury Wine Estates’ key initiatives in the U.S. market in recent months has been a renewed emphasis on the $10-$20 price area, a strategy that is now yielding growth on several of its main brands, the company tells SND. “We’ve been relentless about driving focus across the business—particularly on our long-term strategy to grow in $10-plus,” says Sandra LeDrew, Treasury’s chief commercial officer for the Americas. “Our marketing investments have increased, our sales teams are focused, and our distributors are engaged on driving this segment.”

16/02/2015: Vineyard set to build second water dam
A multi-million dollar storage dam is being built on vineyard land in Marlborough. The dam, which will be able to hold 260,000 cubic metres of water, is being built to irrigate about 250 hectares of new plantings in the Waihopai Valley. Winegrowers of Ara have been granted resource and building consents for the dam. Winegrowers of Ara chief executive Christine Pears said they were "significantly" expanding their vineyard and, as a result, needed extra water storage. Their markets, both internationally and nationally, had grown and they needed to be able to supply them, she said.

16/02/2015: Feds threaten California wine imports as US- Canada labelling dispute heats up
Canada's agriculture minister is threatening tariffs on California wine if the U.S. doesn't repeal restrictive meat-labelling laws costing our farmers billions. The hammer strikes May 1 if mandatory country-of-origin labelling legislation isn't changed, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says. "We import $400 million in California wines (annually)," he said this week during a stop in southwestern Ontario, one of Canada's richest farm belts and a major livestock producer. "We've got a great wine industry right here in Ontario, so that's an easy one to target for retaliation.”

16/02/2015: Poland makes push for elevated viticulture
Poland is pushing its place in the wine world. Earlier this month Polish diplomat Andrzej Byrt met with Jean-Marie Aurand, Director General of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), to apprise him of the resurgence of wine culture in Poland. According to a news story by the OIV, the conversation included details about the wine sector which “has boomed in a country that has experienced significant economic growth over recent years.” Much of the vitivinicultural boom is based on grape hybrids like solaris, hibernal and maréchal foch. The growth Byrt spoke of extends from the grape-growing region of Zielona Gora down through Krakow and eastward toward Kazimierz Dolny.

16/02/2015: Champagne back on the menu as budget wine market dips
Spending on wine in restaurants and bars has dipped by almost a tenth in the past year but connoisseurs are increasingly willing to splash the cash on premium lines. Though overall spending in the ‘on-premises’ market dropped by 9.7 per cent in the past year, new figures have highlighted the soaring popularity of sparkling wines among discerning middle class diners. Champagne and Prosecco sales were buoyant over the past 12 months, jumping by 45 per cent in high-end establishments. Sales of premium wines have fared well overall, now representing 12.6pc of the wines sold ‘on-premises’, compared to 10.5pc in the year before.

16/02/2015: Biodynamic winemaker Joly to cut ties with Loire body
Loire Valley winemaker Nicolas Joly has said he will withdraw his vineyard of the La Coulee de Serrant from the region's wine trade body after accusing the group of failing to respect organic and biodynamic wine producers. Nicolas Joly’s decision comes after a French court ordered him to pay 5,803 euros and three cents, plus 1,500 euros in legal fees, for not paying his subscription to Interloire. He has appealed the judgement, but said he will withdraw La Coulee de Serrant, a small appellation of seven hectares within AC Savennieres and owned by the Joly family since 1961.

16/02/2015: Chard Farm Winery celebrates 25 years on the farm
Central Otago’s Chard Farm Winery is celebrating 25 years on the farm later this month with a VIP wine tasting, birthday party and a family-friendly locals’ Open Day. Celebrations will be held over the weekend of Friday and Saturday February 20 and 21, and in a ‘nod’ to the community that has supported the business over the decades, all proceeds from wine sales on the Open Day will go to local primary schools. Director and winemaker Rob Hay said he, wife Gerdi and family were looking forward to celebrating the landmark anniversary. “I first set eyes on the farm in August 1986 after returning from Germany where I’d studied winemaking,” he said.

13/02/2015: Kiwi company invents tiny cleansing 'sponges'
Businessman Sir James Wallace is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a Waikato tech company, he believes has massive potential for New Zealand. The company, called Ligar, has developed a molecular process that extracts the bad stuff from things like contaminated water and smoke-tainted wine. In a small lab in Hamilton scientists have pioneered a technology they hope will soon be used in industries around the world, from mining to food. What looks like black powder is actually thousands of tiny polymers - specially designed molecules that can filter out good and bad particles.

13/02/2015: Sheep help make NZ winery's grapes taste so good
A New Zealand winery, called Brancott Estate Wines, hired a group of 1,900 sheep to hang out in the vines every summer, reported Country Living. The "wooly workers" pluck leaves from the vine canopy to uncover the grapes on the vine, exposing them to sunlight. By doing this, they are enhancing the wine's taste, as pinot noir grapes produce the best flavors when paired with extra sunlight. "You'd be forgiven for thinking we're pulling the wool over your eyes," Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker at Brancott Estate, said in a pun-filled press release. "But sheep play a vital role in preparing the vineyards for harvest."

13/02/2015: Wine shipments face delays as California port dispute escalates
Wine shipments in and out of California face further delays as the labour dispute between port workers and their employers steps up a gear with vessel operations suspended over the upcoming long weekend. The Pacific Maritime Association has said it will suspend vessel operations over Presidents’ Day weekend at ports along the West Coast in the US as it refuses to pay enhanced holiday rates to employees who are not working at full capacity. The dispute, which has been going on since last summer, is between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and PMA over renegotiated contracts.

13/02/2015: China weighs on French wine and spirits exports
A decline in French wines and spirits exports worsened last year as China's clampdown on extravagant spending capped demand for pricy cognacs and Bordeaux wines, but producers said they banked on a weak euro to help stabilize exports this year. Shipments of French wines and spirits abroad fell 2.8 per cent to 10.8 billion euros in 2014, hurt by a 17.4 per cent fall in sales to China, the sector's federation FEVS said on Wednesday. "The year 2014 reflects the anti-ostentatious spending policy that started in 2013 in China, and whose impact was fully felt (in 2014)," FEVS said in a statement.

13/02/2015: Global warming and wine
It has often been argued that global climate change is affecting the less fortunate more than the wealthy. Having money can insulate people from such problems as rising food prices and flooding in coastal areas. Apart from that, much wealth is generated by industries that contribute to global warming as opposed to combating it. That being said, one effect of climate change that is attracting the attention of even the super-rich is its impact on winegrapes. Rising temperatures in areas like France, Italy and Spain are affecting the flavour of certain wines. What is happening is that certain grape varieties such as Pinot Noir are growing more quickly than before.

13/02/2015: N.J. wineries open their doors for Wine and Chocolate Trail Weekend
Three years ago, Megan Chamberlain would spend entire days at work without a single customer coming in to the Coda Rossa Winery in Franklin Township. "Now, it's nice and steady," said Chamberlain, who coordinates events for the winery. "We're just trying to spread the word about how the industry is growing." Sunday's instalment of Wine and Chocolate Trail Weekend, organized by the Garden State Wine Growers Association, was part of a state-wide event that invites patrons to visit dozens of vineyards from Sussex County to Cape May. Visitors can come in to sample chocolates and hors d'oeuvres paired specially for the wines their local vintners are producing, just in time for Valentine's Day.

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