Zac Caudo: Wine-inspired lifestyle

Nestled between Waikerie and Morgan, in South Australia’s Riverland, sits a beautiful cellar door right on the edge of the Murray River. It’s only been open for a few years, but Caudo Vineyard has cemented itself as one of the most popular and progressive wine businesses in the region. The winery’s philosophy of ‘wine inspired by a lifestyle’ has been driven by Zac Caudo who now manages the family business in between water skiing, wakeboarding and fishing. Emilie Reynolds reports.

Although Zac Caudo has only been working in the wine industry for seven years, he has been surrounded by it for most of his life. His parents Joe and Christine Caudo purchased a property on the Murray River in the mid-1980s when the family still lived in Perth.
“My parents planted a vineyard where we had water skiing holidays,” Caudo said. “The lifestyle I enjoyed on the Murray River led me to this next step in my career.”

young gun- caudo BETTER

In 2009, Caudo moved to the area and took the reins of the company as manager. From there, he transformed the business from a bulk supplier of wine grapes to producer of its own Caudo brand of award-winning wines and a tourism destination for thousands of visitors.
“We decided to change from contract grapes to bulk wines because in contract grapes you are at the mercy of big wineries, whereas with bulk wine you instantly open yourself to export trade and consumers,” he said.

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Is ‘brand Australia’ dead?

Australia’s largest wine company, Treasury Wine Estates, recently announced an initiative to put a spotlight on the regionality of their wines. The message was clear. Australia’s biggest wine company was moving away from ‘brand Australia’. Should other wine brands follow? Emilie Reynolds reports.


A recent study asked trade and consumers from key global wine markets, including the US, UK and China, what they thought of Australian people. Among the top answers were “rough”, “simple” and “uncultured”.
The question was asked as part of a global study by Professor Roberta Crouch and funded by Wine Australia, the University of Adelaide and the Australian National University. Crouch had a goal of uncovering global perceptions of Australia, Australians and Australian wine to see how they could be affecting international wine sales.
Setting out to reveal the ‘country of origin’ effects for Australian wine, Crouch surveyed seven current or emerging wine markets to estimate the potential economic benefit for Australian wine exporters if the existing attitude towards ‘brand Australia’ changed. Continue reading

What is the ‘100th monkey effect’?

The ‘100th monkey effect’ explains the moment when where a critical number of group members adapt to a new behaviour, making it an accepted part of what they do – rather than something new, or different. How does this relate to a group of grapegrowers? Nathan Gogoll reports.

100TH MONKEY VINGERONS is a cluster group of four grapegrowing families that have joined forces across the past two years, boosted by some ‘cluster funding’ from Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), to the point where a collective brand has been developed and two independent board members have been appointed, winemaker Sue Bell and master of wine Phil Reedman. The group represents three per cent of South Australia’s winegrape production and was officially launched in Adelaide on Thursday afternoon.

“I think this cluster coming together is trying to think of different ways to do things, definitely building trust in those relationships,” Sue Bell said. “It’s not just about growing and hoping; it’s not just about growing and seeing how much money you can get – beating your neighbour; it’s about building long-term relationships of trust – and putting back into that land you’re working.” Continue reading

Innovation in action

Paul Baggio, Della Toffola Pacific managing director, has worked in the wine industry for more than 20 years and has spent lots of time travelling the world, scouting out the best technology. From his latest ‘tech tour’ his key takeaway was around knowledge sharing, particularly around innovation, and how that can enhance rather than diminish the winemaking process. Nathan Gogoll put a few questions to him.

Paul Baggio - Della Toffola Pacific

Q. Where have you been on your most recent ‘tech tour’ and what did you see?
Paul Baggio: Every year since 2003 I have taken a group of Australian and New Zealand winemakers on what has been colloquially termed ‘tech tours’. We have visited wineries in Italy, Spain, France and the USA. The trips are an opportunity to see different vinification technologies in operation and importantly for winemakers to ask and query their peers as to the performance and value of the technology.
Our latest tour in November focused on wine producers in the North of Italy. It included a stop in Treviso, the home of Prosecco, to a winery using high solid cross flow and continuous tartrate stabilisation, a winery in Soave using continuous floatation and cross flow filtration using high levels of Carbon and PVPP. Continue reading

A little less conversation, a little more action please

When Tourism Australia launched the ‘Restaurant Australia’ strategy in 2015, Nathan Gogoll was impressed to see the efforts to put food and wine in focus. But he questions whether the Australian wine industry actually got any traction from the promotions.

TOURISM AUSTRALIA RESEARCH, conducted across 15 of Australia’s key tourism markets, shows ‘great food, wine, and local cuisine’ is a major factor influencing holiday decision-making (at 38 per cent), ranking just ahead of world-class beauty and natural environments (37 per cent).
To narrow the perception gap between those who have visited Australia and those who have not, Tourism Australia developed the idea that Australia could be the world’s greatest restaurant – ‘Restaurant Australia’.
The main piece of promotion was a three-minute video that matched stunning scenery with mouth-watering food shots and all the action of it been gathered, prepared and served. I thought it was a terrific promotion built on a solid strategy.

But then I double checked how wine experiences were portrayed in the video. Continue reading

Newton: Wines in motion

After winning New Zealand’s Young Winemaker of the Year Award for the second time in a row, Mudbrick’s Patrick Newton has firmly positioned himself as a force to be reckoned with in the winemaking community. Emilie Reynolds caught up with the family man about travelling the world, landing his dream job and the best time of the year to catch some swell on Waiheke Island.

Young Gun 1

PATRICK NEWTON was just 10 years old when his father retired as an officer with the Australian Defence Force and moved the family to a newly purchased block of land in the Gimblett Gravels.
Born in Australia and raised across the country, the move gave Newton his first glimpse into an industry that would eventually become his future.
“We moved every couple of years before my parents decided to parents decided to purchase a block of land in what is now the Gimblett Gravels just west of Hastings in 1989,” Newton said. “The Cornerstone Vineyard was established and the family moved to New Zealand in 1992 when Dad retired from the Army to run the vineyard.”
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Music + Wine: The best tasting music

Music plays a huge role in many of our lives. The right song often has the power to change our mood almost instantaneously by arousing particular memories and emotions. So what should be playing in the winery tasting room? Emilie Reynolds reports.

fidel and sarah anne

Australian touring act Fidel & Sarah Anne

EVERYONE HAS THAT ONE SONG which evokes such strong feelings of nostalgia it can almost transport your mind to a different moment. When people hear music it represents more than just the action of sound waves upon the ear drum. Rather, when this information reaches the cortex, the brain interprets these sounds.
Hearing a particular piece of music can activate, or prime, related pieces of information. For example, when we hear ‘I still call Australia home’, it primes thoughts and memories relating to Australian culture, landmarks, travel, Qantas, even a sense of belonging and pride.

In the wine world, producers have been so focused on creating a memorable taste that they often forget wine has the unique power to be an all-encompassing sensory experience. Wine marketers often press the importance of evoking emotions in consumers by storytelling. Tugging at heart strings and putting a face to the brand have been significant selling tools for wine producers but what if there was another way to prompt an emotion response from consumers? A free, relatively easy way to ensure cellar door tastings left a lasting impression on potential customers? Continue reading

Vintage adrenalin rush

There’s a lot of extra energy in the industry at vintage time. The sound of gas guns firing in the distance; the eagerness of grapegrowers comparing Baumes; the sight of both old Bedfords and brand new B Doubles loaded with grapes; meeting purple-stained cellarhands at the local servo and finding out how many tonnes were crushed this week. Nathan Gogoll shares his excitement.

P8 From the editor - wet boots

Even before it begins, there’s a ritual build-up. Grapegrowers start to hear from winery reps, sometimes they even get visitors from the winery to check on the progress. New pieces of equipment are unloaded and admired for how big and shiny they are compared to what was used last year. Vintage casuals get inducted. Deliveries of new barrels (and the invoices that go with them) remind people how much money is invested in getting the most out of each vintage season. Then somebody remembers one of the settings on the bag press stopped working last year. And there are last minute phone calls to be made.

Then the picking crews start doing their thing and the whole process comes alive, literally. You can see it and hear it – you can even smell it. And there are a lot of people who get to feel it as well – whether the feeling is sticky grape-picking fingers, wet boots and socks from washdowns, sore quads from climbing catwalks, or just the fatigue from working long hours. Continue reading

Women in wine: It’s a sexist award, it needs to be

Recently, a woman was “retrenched” from her longstanding role as a winemaker for a highly reputable business shortly after she announced she was pregnant. To her face, they said they would look for fresh talent. Behind closed doors they panicked at the thought of a second maternity leave. Similarly, a talented and well-known winemaker became pregnant and was immediately dropped from her position as contract winemaker for a large wine corporation. They offered her a role in sales. They couldn’t see how she could make wine and have children at the same time. If you add to this the dozens of women in their late 20s who get asked point blank in interviews whether they plan on having children and are consequently rejected if they say ‘yes’ then it’s clear there is a very real issue of sexism in the wine industry and it’s time for that to change. Emilie Reynolds reports.

Women in Wine

Rose Kentish (left), the Women in Wine ‘winemaker of the year’ and Irina Santiago-Brown, the ‘viticulturist of the year’.

JANE THOMPSON, founder of the Fabulous’ Ladies Wine Society, initially thought up the idea of having an event dedicated to women in wine because numbers were dwindling and support was lacking in the Australian wine industry.
The latest figures from Wine Australia show that the number of people employed in the wine sector is roughly 53,500. Women represent between eight and 10 per cent, which means there are barely more than 5000 women employed in the Australian wine industry – a number which is generally acknowledged to be in decline.
Thompson launched the Australian Women in Wine awards to acknowledge the work of women in the industry and recognise industry leaders who champion equality and fairness in the workplace. Continue reading

What’s next for Australian vineyard machinery?

Sam Bowman explores the latest developments in vineyard machinery and reports on not only what will work well in Australia, but what will make good economic sense for growers and managers.

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IN DECEMBER 2014 I was lucky enough to be sent by Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) to the Vinitech-Sifel Wine and Viticulture trade show in Bordeaux, France, to gain an understanding of the future direction of innovation in agricultural machinery and its applications in the Australian wine industry. The exhibition, held across three days, incorporated every facet of wine production from pruning to packaging equipment with an overarching theme of technical innovation. During the event, awards are presented to manufacturers who are redefining the way we think of operations. Continue reading