Sam Berketa: Art vs Science

A winemaker needs to be an entrepreneur, an innovator, a sales rep and a designer. Sam Berketa was born for the role, he has recently taken over the reins at Alpha Box & Dice in McLaren Vale. Balancing the logical and the creative Sam is keen to bring the techniques and collaborative ethos back home to the Vale. Daniel Whyntie reports.

TRANSFERRING OUT of a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Drug Design, Berketa felt his creative drives pulling him toward a career in the Visual Arts, lucky for wine lovers he found another way to express himself.
“I wasn’t really enjoying the career path that was leading me down, so I actually considered chasing a degree in a completely opposite direction,” Berketa said. “However, I ended up splitting the difference and choose winemaking, as I saw it as being a marriage of art and science my two academic passions. Since walking into class on that first day of winemaking, I haven’t looked back.”
sam-berketaIt is the contrasts between these two ways of seeing the world; the analytic and logical left and the creative right hemisphere of the brain; that makes Berketa a unique winemaker despite his relative lack of experience.
“I love art and all things creative and I include wine in the category of art, most of the time. So, I like to think I have some sort of artistic talent. Brewing has being my creative outlet as well for the last couple of years.” Continue reading

On an elevated stage: The Granite Belt

Nathan Gogoll spent a couple days in the Granite Belt late last year. He found a vibrant wine industry, lots of interesting projects and plenty of characters. The rest of the Australian grape and wine community should take note.

THERE ARE SOME MISCONCEPTIONS about the Granite Belt that need to be addressed. They don’t grow pineapples and bananas at the end of the vine rows. Far from it. In fact, the region is well known for its apple, vegetable and stone fruit crops.
p31-35-granite-belt-just-redIt’s probably a hot and humid region. Actually, the Granite Belt is the coldest region in Queensland, and the locals refer to winter as ‘brass monkey’ season*. It doesn’t get to wear an official ‘cool climate’ tag as the MJT is 21.5°C (Mean January Temperature) which is on par with the Barossa and the heat degree days number is about the same as McLaren Vale. However, there are some vineyards planted at more than 1000m elevation. Continue reading

Stand out like a purple cow

Ashley Ratcliff, Ricca Terra Farms general manager, explores the value of branding for grapegrowers and vineyard businesses.

IN THE BOOK The Purple Cow, author Seth Godin refers to his first visit to Europe with his family. He wrote of how beautiful the herds of brown cows were grazing in the countryside as he drove along the highway. Yet, after only a short time, passing herd-after-herd of brown cows, he made a personal observation – the cows were becoming very boring and had very quickly lost their unique attraction. Godin states, “wouldn’t it be great to see a purple cow”. Now that would be exciting.


“The end game is not about beating a competitor, or winning a sale. The end game is to earn profit through establishing brand loyalty.”
The ‘brown cow’ paradox is present in most industries. One of the attractions of wine to the end consumer is the romance and uniqueness of where the grapes are grown that make the wine, the vineyard.
Successful wine company marketers have been able to etch an image in the consumers’ mind of grapes being hand harvested by the farmer’s weathered hands and then delivering his/her grapes to the winery in an old Bedford truck where the grapes are forked off and pressed in an old wooden basket press. Continue reading

London calling for the Australian Women in Wine Awards


The Australian Women in Wine Awards will partner with Wine Australia to take the 2017 awards to a new ‘Women in Wine’ event set to be held in London in September.


THE ADVISORY BOARD of the Australian Women in Wine Awards (AWIWA) has confirmed the partnership will result in an exciting new direction for the awards this year.
A tasting event at Australia House London will take place on Tuesday 26 September to demonstrate the quality and diversity of Australian wines made by female winemakers and wine brands owned by women.

As part of the tasting the announcement of the winners of the 2017 Australian Women in Wine Awards will take place – the first time these awards will have been announced outside Australia. Jane Thomson, founder of the awards, will fly to London to announce the winners and will host this part of the event.
“This is an exciting development for the Australian Women in Wine Awards,” Thomson siad. “Showcasing our women in wine on such an important international stage is not only good for the advancement of gender equality, it’s good for the entire Australian wine community.” Continue reading

Finding her feet after the storm

Rachel Steer balances vineyard, office and winery work, along with the responsibilities of a young family. Daniel Whyntie tracked down the Chapel Hill viticulturist to find out more about the early stages of her career in the industry.

WHEN RACHEL STEER ARRIVED at Chapel Hill as the viticulturist it was like she entered the industry from a hole in the clouds; coming down from the clam and clear sky right before the storm.
“I came into the wine industry when it was really booming and rode the wave right to the bottom… Which wasn’t really the way I planned it,” Steer said.
“When I was completing high school the wine industry was really booming. Living in the Adelaide Hills it was easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm.”

p37-gg-rachel-steerSteer was attracted to the industry during a time when Australian wine styles were popular and local brands had strong international support; which from 1991 to 2007 helped the Australian viticulture and wine industry more than triple in size, reaching revenues of $5 billion in 2007.
“It was really a great time to come into the industry, there was a lot of excitement and people were putting a lot back in to the industry,” Steer said.
“People had money to spend, in development, new equipment, lunches, dinners, and functions; all those things you can do with money, getting people together and getting the best for your winery.
“Growers were optimistic and everyone just had this positive attitude.” Continue reading

Future Leaders 2017 applications now open

APPLICATIONS FOR THE Future Leaders 2017 program are open till early March, to members of the grape and wine community who are early to mid-career and demonstrating leadership potential.
Funded by the sector and coordinated by Wine Australia, Future Leaders is a unique leadership program that’s been specifically designed for the needs of the Australian grape and wine sector.
The program is an opportunity to bring together emerging leaders from the sector right along the value chain and help them develop the skills to work collaboratively and creatively toward a common goal for long-term prosperity.

Who will be next?


This year, Pragmatic Thinking, a behaviour and motivation strategy company, has been brought on board to facilitate the 2017 program.
Participants will explore new avenues in business, marketing and governance, and will also look at how global economics will shape the future.
They will explore new technology, learn contemporary approaches to personnel development and commercial success and hear from some of Australia’s best while connecting with people from across the grape and wine community.
The program consists of six face-to-face sessions over six months, between June and October 2017. Each session will be run across one-to-five days and each will require travel to locations across Australia. Continue reading

Yalumba signs off Trade Mark battle


YALUMBA HAS DECIDED NOT TO PURSUE an appeal to the Full Bench of the Federal Court after losing a Trade Mark decision late in 2016. Today (January 27) was the final day for an appeal to be lodged. Yalumba lost a Federal Court trademark case it hoped would prevent Jacob’s Creek from using the word ‘signature’ to describe a range of Barossa wines.

The case was dismissed on December 14, 2016, but in making the determination Judge Natalie  Charlesworth acknowledged Yalumba’s rights in its Trade Mark for “The Signature” and found Trade Mark usage by Pernod Ricard.

Since 1966 Yalumba has produced a premium Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blend and labels it with the signature of one of the members of the winery team (for example, the 2013 vintage carries the signature of Andrew Murphy – Yalumba’s executive director of wine).


The action from Yalumba followed the release of three red wines from Jacob’s Creek, owned by Pernod Ricard Winemakers, under the Barossa Signature range in September 2015.

Lawyers representing Yalumba claimed Pernod Ricard had used “deceptive similarity” when it used the ‘signature’ branding. However, Pernod Ricard rejected the notion, arguing the label reflected both the wine’s geographical location and characteristics, and ‘signature’ was used adjectively.

Robert Hill-Smith, Yalumba proprietor, said he was disappointed by the judgement and what he said was “poor etiquette and market behaviour” from Pernod Ricard Winemakers. Continue reading

There’s an app for that, too

THE TECHNOLOGY to help the wine and grape community get through the 2017 vintage fits into a pocket. This week has delivered the latest news on two phone apps, one for grapegrowers and one for winemakers. One will help winemakers manage ferments in vintage 2017, the other has been designed to help grapegrowers monitor water stress in their vineyards.


The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) has launched an online version of a Ferment Simulator –allowing winemakers to track ferments online and identify problem ferments earlier. The Ferment Simulator app stores all ferment-related data and uses algorithms to predict the progress of each ferment recorded. Warnings are provided if ferments run faster or slower than initially predicted, allowing winemakers to respond early. Continue reading

Australian Vignerons will wind up if support fails to increase

The national advocacy body Australian Vignerons, is in danger of winding up if support fails to increase in coming months. The organisation has written to stakeholders making it clear that unless support is forthcoming the board will have no alternative but to start the wind-up process.

Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA) was formed more than a decade ago to provide a national voice for Australian grape growers. It has recently undergone a structural reform and change to trading name to ensure its relevance to industry stakeholders. The changes to membership, board and structure proposed in a new constitution received unanimous support when offered to members at the special general meeting in September 2016. However, this support has not been reflected in increased membership outside of South Australia and Western Australia.

Australian Vignerons provides a national voice for those who grow and make wine, and who are not supported by Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.

Andrew Weeks, Australian Vignerons CEO

Andrew Weeks, Australian Vignerons CEO

Australian Vignerons CEO Andrew Weeks is philosophical about the future of the national body.

“The Chair, the board and I have done all we can to provide vignerons (both wine growers and wine makers) a voice into the future,” Weeks said.
“No one has offered an alternative to the proposed reform.
“It is up to the Australian wine industry to support this body if they want it to succeed. If not, the only remaining national voice for the Australian wine industry will be that of the Winemakers’ Federation.”  Continue reading

Snapchat for your wine business

There are plenty of options for wine brands when it comes to interaction on social media – including Snapchat. In this article, Dr Rebecca Dolan from The University of Auckland Business School Department of Marketing, works through the reasons Snapchat deserves attention.

Snapchat offers a glimpse into the future of mobile marketing. On the most basic level, users (such as brands and consumers) can send image or video ‘Snaps’ directly to a recipients inbox.
Snapchat has over 100 million active daily users who collectively send around 400 million Snaps per day, making Snapchat one of the fastest-growing social network platforms.
Many brands are already using Snapchat to produce daily updates (known as ‘Stories’) that engage and excite audiences. A ‘Snapchat Story’ lasts only 24 hours, and is a string of Snaps used to create a video-like narrative.
More than 1 billion Snapchat Stories are created each day. The platform provides many native tools and features, such as filters, geofilters, text, emojis, and music. Snapchat is quite unique compared to other social networking platforms. The posts aren’t archived, and the sponsored ads don’t stay for more than 10 seconds. In this article, we will focus on some simple ways that brands can use Snapchat for marketing.

Snapchat allows you to collate videos and images into ‘Stories’ on your channel. When you add content to your ‘Story’, it remains there for 24 hours. The advantage of adding content to your ‘Story’ is it allows your followers to replay the material. This differs to a single Snap, which can only be viewed once. You can also continually add Snaps to your Story, keeping the content highly relevant. As a brand, you can create a Story for an event, adding new content as the event unfolds. Before using the Stories feature, make sure you log in to your Snapchat account and permit all followers to see your Stories. Continue reading