In this edition….

Australian Vignerons will be forced to wind up without further support
As recently reported in the Daily Wine News, Australian Vignerons is facing an uncertain future.  This is the national peak body that has for many years been the voice of wine grape growers with the federal government.  While this situation has been made clear for the past 12 months, Australian Vignerons is now suggesting a date.  If there has not been a significant increase in membership by April this year, it is highly likely that the national peak body will be forced to wind up.  This would mean the loss of the ability of most of the wine industry stakeholders to have a voice with the federal government.  It would also risk losing the voice that growers have in regard to commercial trading issues, management in biosecurity issues, and input into how the compulsory research and development levies that they contribute will be invested.You can read more here
Future Leaders going ahead for another year
Applications for Future Leaders 2017 are now open to those who are ready to step up and be next in leading Australia’s grape and wine community to future prosperity.
Funded by the sector and coordinated by Wine Australia, Future Leaders will be offered to at least 15 applicants.
Applications close on 9 March 2017Head to the Future Leaders website for more information
Powdery Mildew a concern…
While powdery mildew is an ever-present concern in vineyards, it seems that this has been a high-pressure season.  There have been reports from warm inland regions in particular, but there have been reports from other regions as well. Australian Vignerons is not in the business of providing technical advice, but growers are advised, in particular with susceptible varieties such as Chardonnay, to inspect these vineyards and familiarize themselves with threshold levels for diseases and pests.Advice can be sought from the AWRI help desk on
Phone:  8 8313 6600
Email:   [email protected]
Web:    http://www.awri.com.au/industry_support/viticulture/Or contact relevant winery technical staff, or your local agronomist for advice.
Wine and Health
There have been some recent activity in the wine & health space, with a re-run of regular reports about the claimed impact of alcohol in terms of public cost and damage to health.  It is disappointing that these reports so often quote the discredited figure of $36 billion per year.  This figure has been discredited in subsequent work, notably the “Cost of Costs” paper from Crampton and Burgess.  The Menzies Research Centre has recently released a report titled “Damn Lies and Statistics: The demonization of the alcohol industry”.  This report discredits much of the argument made against the alcohol industry as being based on selective and questionable evidence.  Independent data shows that the overall per capita consumption of alcohol is decreasing, and more people are abstaining from alcohol altogether, and the argument that urgent action is needed to address and “alcohol epidemic” is not supported by evidence.The Winemakers’ Federation is a founding member of Drinkwise, and promotes consumption of wine in moderation, in line with health drinking guidelines.  A recent press release on the 21st December encouraged caution for expectant mothers during Christmas festivities.  It has also completed an audit of wine that carry the pregnancy warning logo here.The wine industry takes it social responsibility seriously.The alcohol and health issue is a very important one for the wine industry, and highlights the need for industry stakeholder to be engaged with their industry.  There is a very active anti-alcohol lobby that has a history of relying on emotive arguments to sway public opinion.  It is important that growers and makers of wine are engaged with this issue and that they support their peak bodies so that they can be active and effective in this area.
Exports to China
Exports to China continue to increase, with the value of exports increasing over the 12 months to December 2016 increasing by 50% in value terms.  On 1st January this year the tariff rate for Australian wine imported into China has been reduced to 5.6%, form 14% prior to the successful negotiation of the FTA’s.  Current exports to China are valued at $500 million, in comparison with $27 million ten years ago.  This is wonderfully positive news, and while it is not a complete cure for the trying times that the Australian Wine industry is dealing with at present, it is certainly better than not having such fantastic growth.The Chinese wine market is rapidly evolving, with Australia being a highly valued exporter.  It is essential that we ensure the quality and integrity into this expanding and high value market is the best it can be, and make the most of a great opportunity.
Grape Prices Still Stagnating
While there is positive news in regard to exports, it is extremely disappointing to hear news from warm inland regions that recent price discussions indicate a continuation of depressed pricing.  There is a bright future for the Australian wine industry, but only if those producing the fruit destined for the wine that will stock the shelves of global wine stores are able to make a solid living, re-invest in their businesses and continue to improve.  Things are more positive in cool temperate regions, with recent positive news stories relating the success of businesses in McLaren Vale and Tasmania reaping the rewards of a high value Chinese market.It is particularly disappointing to hear that there has been a significant disparity between the increased prices offered on the “spot” market for uncontracted fruit, and some of the price offers furnished to growers who are bound to supply with a contract, where prices are similar to last year.  It would be a reasonable assumption to assume that the price being offered on a spot market would be the market price.  Many growers are reporting that their prices being offered under contract are 25% lower than the price on the spot market.  This is causing many growers to question the value of the Wine Industry Code of Conduct, especially in light of the price notification date and the resulting influence this has on prices.
Agrochemical Update
A new herbicide active consituent has been approved and registered for use in vineyards on broadleaf and grass weeds.
The product Slasher is distributed by Organic Crop Protectants Pty LtdFor more information please refer to the AWRI website