Posts Tagged ‘Olivia Newton-John’
The Australian wine industry is currently in the midst of a major makeover. After racking up years of record sales numbers, the Land of Oz is looking for new ways to transform itself into a recognized producer of fine high-quality wines, while trying to shake off the image as a maker of good inexpensive wines with fun loving critters on the label. There are two main reasons for this marketing shift. First, the country and it’s wine industry have been dealing for years with the most severe drought that it has ever seen. The second reason for the marketing shift is due to decades of mass exporting of inexpensive wine (namely, Shiraz) faster than they can grow it. New plantings have not faired well in the desert-like conditions, thus drastically curtailing Australia’s wine production numbers. In order to avoid a total industry collapse, the country’s wine industry has started to take several precautionary measures to ensure long-term sustainability.
It’s been reported that over the past several years the drought has been so severe that Australia’s overall grape harvest in 2007 was over 1/3 less than it’s 2006 figures. In 2008, conditions only worsened. Wine producers, particularly in South Australia, have been hammered by the drought and are very concerned about their future. Growers specifically in the Riverland, Clare Valley, and the Langhorne Creek regions that surround the South Australian capital of Adelaide have been hit extremely hard.
Particular areas located in the Murray Darling area of Southeastern Australia produce over 50% of all Australian wine grapes and are home to the vineyards that produce much of the country’s largest and most recognized brands such as Black Opal, D’Arenberg, Hardys, Penfolds, and Wolf Blass just to name a few. According to officials from the Wine Grape Growers of Australia, as much as 10% of the 7500 Australian grape growers could go out of business by the end of this year if water relief is not met. Glen Arnold, who is the chairman of the Riverland Wine Grape Growers Association, said that the drought problem is so severe in the Riverland region that “vineyard operators have been forced to buy water from other growers, themselves pushed out of business by a lack of rain”.
In an effort to try and save this region from a total catastrophe, a group of growers have joined together to build a community-owned pipeline that will take water to their vines. This pipeline, which is expected to be completed in October will cost the group of growers approximately $120 million. Many of the growers supporting this project have said that the community had no other choice if they wished to save their businesses.
So what does all this mean for U.S. and other consumers in the future?
Wine Australia, the government body that directs Australia’s overseas wine marketing, says that it plans to shift the marketing focus away from its hugely successful brands – and more towards smaller producers that showcase these regions’ true essence and flavor. Additionally, more Australian growers are experimenting with Italian Sangiovese and Brunello grapes which are more heat tolerant than Shiraz. The result of less production and focus on smaller producers, officials hope, will result in fewer “bargain” Australian wines on the shelves and a greater number of Aussie bottles with a price tag of $20 and higher.
Let’s pray that these measures work because Australia Wine…I honestly love you!!
Australia Wine Growers Facing Ruin Unless the Rains Come (Telegraph.co.uk)
For Australian Winemakers, More Turns Out to be Less (The New York Times)
South Australian Wine Industry Association
Australia’s Drought May Cut Wine Vintage by Half (Reuters)
Sever Australian Drought Threatens Wine Industry (Green Diary)