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News posted on Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Hunter kicks up a fuss
It can be difficult to stir up interest in old, established brands. Everyone focuses on what's new - and there's always a lot that's new. The Hunter Valley, Australia's oldest major wine region, has tried a few angles over the years. They were promoting the New Generation for a while but now these guys have mostly passed 40 years old, they're getting a bit grey for that. The latest hook is Fussy Bastards with the slogan: The Hunter Valley produces less than 2 per cent of Australia's wine - Fussy Bastards, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

We'll drink to that
Wine served in carafes. House wine stored in and poured from stainless steel kegs. A focus on sub-regions or single vineyards and a move towards ''natural'' wines. And let's not forget matching of drinks and dishes. That's a fair snapshot of Melbourne's drinking scene and it means diners have never had it so good. But perhaps the most noticeable and pleasing trend in the past year has been the move towards sharper lists, writes Jane Faulkner in The Age.

Water trust fund call
Charging irrigators $50 a megalitre to extract water from the Murray-Darling Basin and auctioning off water entitlements with all revenue placed in a trust fund could be the solution to the region’s problems. That’s the view of McLaren Vale Grape, Wine and Tourism Association chairman, Dudley Brown, who believes politics should be moved away from the Basin debate and back into the hands of local communities, reports The Land.

China wine rip offs
The Hunter Valley's small wineries are being urged to consider using odd-shaped labels, with detailed colouring or non-standard bottles in order to avoid having their brands ripped off in China. Wine industry law firm, Finlaysons held its annual Roadshow in the Hunter Valley yesterday, providing advice to vineyards keen to break into the growing Chinese market, reports ABC News.

Icon Wolf Blass in tribute to Treasury
A legend of the Australian wine industry has praised the management team at Treasury Wine Estates, calling CEO David Dearie ‘the best man for the job’. While the wine company’s results for the 12 months to the end of June, released last week, were less than inspiring, wine pioneer Wolf Blass believes he is the right man to take the company into the next era, reports The Shout.

Cheap wine and stalled economic growth
I went to a party on Saturday night and I came away from it with two insights. Cheap wine. Not that there's anything wrong with cheap wine. The kitchen bench was groaning under the weight of cheap wine. Good cheap wine, all of it eminently drinkable and most of it imported. It gave me to wonder, before I’d knocked off enough vino to stop wondering about anything, whether the problem with the economy isn’t structural or political but simply attitudinal, blogs John Birmingham in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Hi-tech wines researched (NZ)
In a brave new world, genetic databases might be used to target wines at markets most likely to respond to their flavours and aromas, Plant and Food science leader Roger Harker said at New Zealand Winegrowers' annual conference on Friday. Dr Harker is developing a Sauvignon Blanc juice index that translates varietal attributes to chemical compounds, reports The Marlborough Express. That information could be used to grow vines and make wines that would attract a premium in specific markets, he said.

Vineyard manager's win first for the region (NZ)
The Central Otago wine industry is happy to bask in some reflected glory after a local man won the national Young Viticulturist of the Year contest. Central Otago Winegrowers Association president Nick Mills said the win, by Peregrine Winery vineyard manager Nick Paulin (28), was wonderful news, especially as it was the first time a Central Otago competitor had taken top honours, reports Otago Daily Times.

Research for profits, winegrowers told (NZ)
The wine industry spends only $1.2 million of grape levies on research compared with $6 million from the similarly sized kiwifruit industry. Plant and Food chief operating officer Bruce Campbell touted research as one path to profitability, at the New Zealand Winegrowers' Romeo Bragato conference in Auckland last week, reports The Marlborough Express.

Italians expect quality wines for 2011 (Italy)
Vintners in Europe's largest wine-producing nation, Italy, are forecasting high-quality grapes for 2011, despite high summer temperatures, reports UPI. "There is a certain homogeneity in almost all the regions in 2011, but it's possible we'll produce a high-quality harvest," said Giuseppe Martelli, director general of Assoenologi, which is the Italian association of oenologists.

A new age for California white wines (US)
The Compagni Portis vineyard could easily be overlooked, just another parcel astride weekend houses on the edge of Sonoma. But its 6 acres of gnarled vines hold the past, present and future of California white wine. Here is a true curiosity, a vineyard that's virtually the last of its kind. Originally part of Agoston Haraszthy's old Buena Vista property, its white volcanic-ash-rich soils were most recently planted in 1954. Now farmed organically, it's an interplanted mix of grapes considered mostly historical, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.

Raising a glass to the most northerly vineyard in Britain (UK)
If you ever dreamed of having your own vineyard, you probably pictured the sun-kissed slopes of California or the lush terraces of the Rhone Valley. But Michael Graham had a more unusual ambition: to produce quality wine from his garden in Lancashire, reports Daily Mail. 'Everyone said it would be impossible to establish a vineyard so far north,' says Michael, 77, whose magnificent, vine-filled plot is on the outskirts of Bolton-le-Sands, a large village near Lancaster.

GWRDC appoints new directors
Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig announced on Friday the appointment of five new directors to the board of the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation (GWRDC). New directors are Dr Michele Allan, who was head of research and development for packaging company Amcor; Chris Day, CEO of Food and Beverage Australia; Philip Laffer, who has held various management and winemaking positions; Jan O’Connor, business owner/director with wine industry experience; and Anita Podder, Group public relations manager for Constellation Wines.