The news of more wine and more marketing money were the reasons for “cautious optimism” when grape and wine community leaders gathered in mid-July. Nathan Gogoll reports.

A POTENTIAL RECORD vintage intake could be announced at the same time $50million is injected into the wine industry marketing efforts.
That was the big news from a grape and wine community briefing held in Adelaide on Thursday.
The 2017 vintage intake will go close to breaking the 2005 record of 1.92million tonnes, at a time when the details of a $50million Federal Government marketing stimulus package are looming.
More details on both topics are set to be announced in August.

Vintage 2017 action at Huntington Estate, Mudgee NSW. Photo – Amber Hooper

The Winemaker’s Federation of Australia hosted about 60 people at the Finlaysons office in Adelaide for half a dozen short presentations from a group of industry leaders plus a short Q&A panel session.
The information presented included a preview of the 2017 ‘vintage report’ which is expected to be “at least 1.9million tonnes”.

The briefing also delivered:

  • ‘A brief history lesson’ from Stephen Harvey, Deloitte partner;
  • An export report and marketing activity update from Andreas Clark, Wine Australia CEO;
  • A reminder from Andrew Weeks, Australian Vignerons CEO, that the future for growers will reflect the fortunes of the whole industry;
  • Updates from Dan Johnson and Peter Godden (both from the Australian Wine Research Institute) about the role ‘research and development’ has to play in shaping the international view of Australian wine;
  • News of the “non sexy” areas the Winemaker’s Federation of Australia is working constantly on (policy, regulation, tax, market access, raising awareness of responsible consumption etc.); and
  • A preview of the 2016 ‘vintage report’ from Peter Bailey at Wine Australia.

There were some common themes across nearly three hours of presentations and discussion:

  • Reminders to learn from history were repeated;
  • Calls to understand the impacts on profitability, which are constantly changing, were made – with a message to respond and adapt;
  • Explanations of the different ways the industry is trying to positively influence perceptions were explained; and
  • ‘Emerging positivity’ and ‘cautious optimism’ were the catch-cries of the afternoon.

“This is a critical time in our industry, I believe, and I can honestly say I haven’t felt so much cautious optimism for more than a decade,” said Will Taylor from Finlaysons.

“There is a strong trend of positive growth, which I’m always mindful to ‘ground truth’ and I’ve seen there is a real positive sentiment flowing through,” said Andreas Clark.

“I think I agree with the cautious optimism, with some caveats,” said Andrew Weeks.

“There are a lot of challenges, but we are well placed to manage them,” said Tony Battaglene.

There were positive teasers from the 2017 ‘vintage report’ even though Peter Bailey stressed the results were still being collated and processed ahead of the August 2 official release.
The total crush is expected to be at least 1.9million tonnes.
“It continues the upward trend since 2011,” said Bailey. “And does reflect the really good seasonal conditions.
“The average national purchase price is up at least five per cent.
“The price increase is stronger in warm regions.”

Battaglene wrapped up the program by explaining this was the first briefing of this nature, but it would become a regular annual event (outside of the WFA Outlook event which has been incorporated into the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference held every three years).
“We had some great presentations and the program reflects some great partnerships,” he said.
More information is set to be loaded on the WFA website next week (