Grapegrower & Winemaker - March 2017

What held up this year's harvest?

The 2017 vintage growing season has been challenging; a wet and cold spring season impacted on early shoot development and mild summer conditions, interrupted by regular rain events, has kept growers on their toes.

"Spring and early summer of this season have been a complete contrast to the previous season – the hottest on record in 15/16 and one of the coolest in 16/17," said Ian Macrae, CCW Co-operative Limited senior viticulture officer.

It's been a season of extreme, sometimes isolated, weather events - with some vineyards hit hard by storm and hail damage; others contending with floods; and some recording high temperatures. Despite all this, many growers are expecting it to be a season that delivers on both quality and quantity. In the latest edition of the Grapegrower & Winemaker, we asked a group of experts from around the country to comment on what impacted vintage this year and to give us an outlook on what to expect in the coming season.

The expert assessments included:

Marcel Essling, The Australian Wine Research Institute senior viticulturist, gives a national overview. "Generally, the season started cooler and wetter than recent years. Flooding and waterlogged soils in some regions made getting equipment into the vineyard difficult. Growers were forced to alter their spray plans and adapt to higher disease pressure.”

Colin Bell (AHA Viticulture director and viticulturist) contributes from Western Australia. "Following strong winter rainfall and resultant cold soils, early vine growth was slow, but fruitfulness was high.”

Mike Hayes (Symphony Hill viticulturist and winemaker) checks in from Queensland. "Berry size was down. Crop levels were up last year so vines normally have a respite, had a very nice skin to juice ratio.”

Marty Smith (Absolute Viticulture viticulturist) provides the Tasmania update. "Budburst was early for us this season (late August) with the above average temperatures over winter. This changed very quickly as a month of cold and windy weather after budburst stunted the vines considerably. We went from two weeks early to three weeks late by the time we got to flowering.”

Ian Macrae (CCW Co-operative Limited senior viticulture officer) reports from the Riverland. "Flowering occurred about two-to-three weeks later than recent seasons. At the time of flowering there were less leaves per shoot than in previous seasons i.e. flowering started at an earlier EL stage as assessed by the number of leaves per shoot.”

Andrew Mclean (Casella Family Brands grower liaison officer) looks across regions in SA, NSW and Victoria. "Whilst some of the late varieties in cooler regions may run the risk of senescing prior to desired sugar accumulation, overall yields look like they will be in line with long term average and prospective fruit quality looks to be very promising.”

You can read all the feedback from the experts here.

Wine Industry Remains Angry About WET Changes


Consultations with Australia’s wine industry confirm on-going anger at the Government’s failure to consult over its proposed changes to the Wine Equalisation Tax Rebate.

In the 2016 Budget, the Turnbull Government announced two major changes to WET rebate arrangements. It plans to:

1. Reduce the rebate cap from $500,000 to $350,000

2. Declare only wine producers with a financial interest in a winery can claim the rebate

The first change is a revenue grab which will hit the bottom line of winemakers hard.

The second measure is sold as one designed to prevent rorting but will hit hard honest grape growers who sell wine under their own label produced by a contracted winery.

Like the backpacker tax, the Government has failed to consult and poor policy is the outcome.

It’s time for this Government to undertake some meaningful discussion with those who are the backbone of our wonderful wine industry.


WA wine features on World's 50 Best Restaurant launch event in New York

Culinary elite enjoy Australian fine wine during World’s 50 Best celebrations

Australian fine wine has been toasted in New York this week at a number of events celebrating the 2016 World’s 50 Best Restaurants and the announcement that Melbourne will host the awards in 2017.

Close to 1000 of the world’s culinary elite were guests at both the official World’s 50 Best Awards ceremony held at Cipriani on Sunday night (local time) and the 2017 launch at a brunch held by Tourism Australia at New York’s NoMad on Tuesday (local time) and a selection of Australian fine wines from regions right across the country were served throughout.

For the Tourism Australia brunch celebrating the announcement that the 2017 World’s 50 Best Awards will be held in Melbourne, Wine Australia developed a wine list that complemented the menu full of fresh, local produce and prepared by some of Australia’s finest chefs: Peter Gilmore, Dan Hunter, Ben Shewry and Neil Perry AM.

Wine Australia’s General Manager, Marketing, Stuart Barclay said, ‘Collaborating with partners like Tourism Australia to build international awareness, understanding and appreciation for Australia’s sophisticated food and wine culture is a core element of our strategy to position Australia as the world’s preeminent fine wine producer.

‘The Tourism Australia launch at NoMad and our sponsorship of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards have given us an incredible platform upon which to showcase Australia’s regionally diverse, terroir-driven, premium wines for the world’s most celebrated chefs and international media and influencers.

‘We’ve been a proud partner of Tourism Australia’s Restaurant Australia campaign since its inception and we’re delighted that Australia will host these prestigious awards next year in Melbourne. We will work closely with Tourism Australia on next year’s event and it will give us the chance to show more of the world’s most influential food and wine professionals our diverse offering of wines.

‘We hope to also give many of the guests who fly out for the awards the chance to get out and experience the natural beauty of our wine regions and the warm hospitality of our grape and wine community.’

Wines served at Tourism Australia’s 2017 World’s 50 Best Restaurants launch event held at NoMad:

Cirillo ‘The Vincent’ Grenache 2015 - Barossa Valley

Jansz Premium Cuvée - Tasmania

Leeuwin Estate ‘Art Series’ Chardonnay 2014 - Margaret River

Moorooduc Estate Pinot Noir 2013 - Mornington Peninsula

Pewsey Vale Riesling 2015 - Eden Valley

Government Listens to Wine Industry Concerns

Following the announcement of proposed changes to WET legislation in the 2016 Budget, Wines of WA and Regional wine associations consulted widely with WA wine producers to determine the likely social and economic consequences of the changes.

A survey of producers managed by RSM Australia on behalf of the WA wine industry provided detailed information clearly outlining that a “perfect storm of unintended consequences … and extreme rationalisation” would occur if the proposed changes were to be implemented as outlined in the Budget.

Wines of WA requested urgent consultation with Government to present this information and further discuss how WET legislation could be amended to achieve revenue savings while tightening eligibility criteria and returning the Rebate to its original – to support regionally based small and medium wine producers.

Federal members Nola Marino (Forrest), Rick Wilson (O’Connor) and WA Senator Dean Smith invited Senator Anne Ruston, Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water to visit WA wine regions to discuss the issues with WA producers. Senator Ruston accepted their invitation.

From Tuesday to Thursday this week, the Senator toured WA wine regions, conducting town hall meetings in Mt Barker, Pemberton, Busselton and the Swan Valley. Producers’ shared their views on the proposed changes and outlined how these would affect their businesses and regions. Summarising the common themes, Wines of WA President, Redmond Sweeny said’ “producers are extremely concerned with the proposed definition of an eligible producers (who can receive the WET Rebate) and the stepped reduction in the amount of Rebate a producer can claim each year. In dollar terms, the effect of the two issues combined would be the direct removal of up to $17 million dollars per year from regional WA towns. In social terms, the flow on effects to jobs and other businesses will be significant. Further work is being done to determine the extent of this impact.”

Senator Ruston spoke to producers across scale of production representative of the WA wine industry. On conclusion of the tour she said, “I have heard their concerns. The industry now needs to work together to gain consensus on how WET legislation should be amended. I can then come back and formally consult on the eligibility and Rebate Cap issues. In caretaker mode during an election, I can only promise to do so if re-elected. I have committed to this if the coalition is re-elected and I maintain my position as Assistant Minister.”

Entwine Australia

When the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) took on the management of Entwine, the team was tasked with implementing a suite of industry recommendations to ensure that Entwine provided value to its members. This has been a significant task and I am pleased to report that the ‘refreshed’ Entwine has received endorsement from Wine Grape Growers Australia, the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Wine Australia to be the principle vehicle to convey the Australian wine industry’s sustainability credentials.

Entwine continues to serve as a national ‘umbrella’ program, providing oversight and direction for participating programs and a mechanism for national data collection. AWRI staff have been working closely with the McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association, Freshcare Limited and also the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) to ensure that a unified and rigorous approach is taken to maintaining and improving the reputation of Entwine.

Entwine carries significant cachet and is recognised internationally as the Australian wine industry’s mark of sustainability. The AWRI is working to enhance the prominence of Entwine and the connection amongst Entwine members, consumers and customers.

Supporting Local Wineries as Western Australian Wine List Award Winners Announced

Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia

Western Australian restaurants that excel in the provision of wine service and list development have been formally recognised at Restaurant & Catering Australia’s (R&CA) 2016 WA Wine List Awards today.

Casellas Wine Tapas Grill, Bunbury and Frasers Restaurant, Kings Park have won major awards for their wine lists featuring WA wines, while Rustico Tapas Bar in Rockingham Beach picks up two awards for best comprehensive and small bar wine list.

R&CA John Hart CEO has congratulated the winners on their achievements, saying it highlights the importance of the partnership between good food and wine.

“Consumers are increasingly savvy and well informed about their wine choices. Smart operators blend good food and wine together which means a healthier bottom line.
“R&CA’s 2016 Industry Benchmarking Report revealed half of operators design their wine list menu based on consumer demand, with a further 45 per cent indicating price and ability to source wine from the local region as important contributing factors to their wine lists.
“More importantly, over 71 per cent of operators believed it was important to profile Australian wines on their wine list.

For the second consecutive year, R&CA has partnered with Wines of Western Australia to deliver the WA Wine List Awards. Wines of WA’s CEO Larry Jorgensen is proud to have partnered with R&CA again to promote and support the Western Australian wine industry.

“WA wineries are producing world class wines and are an asset to any restaurant wine list. I’m pleased they feature so prominently on the menus of Australia’s best restaurants,” Mr Jorgensen says.

Mr Hart says the event is an important reminder of the value locals and visitors alike place on our food and wine offering.

“I’m pleased Tourism WA have also lent their support to these Awards. Promoting local produce and wine through restaurants is a key focus of WA’s Taste 2020 strategy which the industry backs and supports.

“It’s also a key focus of Tourism Australia’s Restaurant Australia campaign that encourages international visitors to come dine on our shores.

Max Veenhuyzen, R&CA’s Wine List Judge echoed Mr Hart’s comments: “It’s thrilling to see so much diversity in wine lists across the state. Perhaps most impressive is the number of new labels making it on to these lists.

“Whether winemakers are getting better at selling their product or restauranteurs are getting better at unearthing new producers, long may it continue. It’s a win-win for the industry and a public thirsty for great juice,” Mr Veenhuyzen says.

Major Winners of the WA Wine List Awards

The winning restauranteurs include:

  •  Restaurant Wine List – Extensive: Frasers Restaurant, Kings Park
  •  Restaurant Wine List – Comprehensive: Rustico Tapas Bar, Rockingham Beach
  •  Small Bar Wine List: Rustico Tapas Bar, Rockingham Beach
  •  Best Regional Wine List Featuring WA Wines: Casellas Wine Tapas Grill, Bunbury
  •  Best Metropolitan Wine List Featuring WA Wines: Frasers Restaurant, Kings Park

About the Savour Australia Hostplus Awards for Excellence

The Savour AustraliaTM Hostplus Awards for Excellence is a nationally recognised, independently judged, awards program that highlights café, restaurant and catering businesses that provide exceptional service, culinary excellence, incredible ambience and value for money. It is the only Awards system based on criteria determined by the consumer.

Savour Australia is Restaurant & Catering Australia's (R&CA) consumer brand, aimed at promoting and profiling caterers, restaurants and café businesses to avid diners. The Savour Australia website offers diners one of the largest online directories of restaurants and cafes to search and book from.

Join the conversation on the Awards for Excellence at Savour Australia

2016 WA Wine List Awards


Western Australian restaurants that excel in the provision of wine service and list development now have the chance to be recognised in the WA Wine List Awards.

For the second consecutive year Restaurant & Catering Australia (R&CA) has partnered with Wines of WA to deliver the WA Wine List Awards, as part of the 2016 Savour Australia Restaurant & Catering HOSTPLUS Awards for Excellence program.

The focus of the WA Wine List Awards is to showcase local wines and support the local WA wine and food industries through wine list development.

This exciting partnership is just one of the highlights of the WA Wine List Awards program, which will be delivered along with the Trending Lunch at Fraser’s WA State Reception Centre from 12pm-2.30pm on Monday 9th May.

Restaurant & Catering would like to invite local wineries to showcase their wines at the Trending Lunch and announcement of the WA Wine List Awards to an audience of over 120 key decision makers within the industry.

To be involved and for more information on the 2016 Awards for Excellence please call 1300 722 878 or email or . Entries close 12 April 2016.