Fortified’s fresh look

ST LEONARDS VINEYARD, an historic winery in the Rutherglen wine region, has added some colour and intrigue to its range of compelling fortified wines with the release of three HIP SIP wines.

The first wine to launch was the Tawny in April 2016 and two more wines have recently been added to the range – HIP SIP Muscat and HIP SIP Muscadelle.

Georgie James Photography

“HIP SIP was designed to inspire consumers in a creative way on the delights of fortified wine,” said Angela Brown, St Leonards Vineyard sales and marketing director.
“Providing suggestions of how and when to enjoy fortified wine has engaged our consumers.
“The range provides the ability to enjoy the wine in a creative way.” Continue reading

International bulk wine insight

The Grapegrower & Winemaker recently caught up with Denys Hornabrook, the co-founder of VINEX, the bulk wine trading exchange to discuss its development and gain an update on the current market outlook.

Q: You have recently been quoted as saying global prices are expected to rise over the next 12 months, with the precarious 2016 vintage threatening global supplies. What are the factors contributing to your view?
Denys Hornabrook: We are entering a really interesting phase where the pendulum is moving toward demand and applying price pressure. There’s now an increasing likelihood there’ll be a further tightening of global supply. Look at the constraints on what was produced in 2016. South Africa has had its worst vintage in four years, Chile its worst in five and Argentina its worst in 10. But that’s now being compounded by the US having average yields and large yield deficits throughout France and Italy, and especially Spain. Our VINEX Global Price Index which monitors the five major varieties produced around the world shows prices have already increased 21.5% since January. Sauvignon Blanc (heavily weighted by NZ) is the only variety that hasn’t increased in price.

Q: What signs are you seeing of the market responding to this potential reduced supply?
We’ve seen domestic and international buyer registrations increase to access the exchange and then sourcing listings being added to secure additional current vintage supply. Also, several pre-harvest forward contracts have been traded with buyers wanting to hedge some of their 2017 requirement. So there’s a growing sense of a shortage, and buyers’ in-tune with the market are beginning to take early longer-term positions. Continue reading

Yalumba launches $350 ‘super claret’

Australia’s oldest family owned winery, Yalumba, is set to launch a $350 Cabernet Shiraz blend. The Caley, a blend featuring both Coonawarra and Barossa fruit, honours Fred Caley Smith, the grandson of Yalumba’s founder Samuel Smith; and horticulturist who had a profound impact on the development of Yalumba’s orchards and vineyards.


“The Caley is the pinnacle of a long winemaking journey seeking excellence – a ‘super-claret’ that rightfully honours one of Yalumba’s most adventurous sons,” vigneron Robert Hill-Smith said.
“It is the result of an unwavering commitment by Yalumba to Australia’s own unique red wine style – Cabernet and Shiraz – from the Galway Clarets of the 1940s, through the Signature and FDR 1A that started in the 60s and 70s and The Reserve that was created in the 1990s.
“I see it as a symbol of Yalumba’s perseverance and patience – an acknowledgment of the importance of time in crafting great wine.” Continue reading

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