Ducks, rumours, WET, winemakers & Congratulations


The colourful ducks above are advertising Quackfest. One of the sponsors is Silos Estate from Berry, NSW. Quackfest raises money for education, homelessness and domestic violence issues in the Shoalhaven region.  Silos proprietors Rajarshi and Sophie say:

“This year we seem to have stepped up a level – with the support of the State Premier, Mike Barid; the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and a host of other sporting and popular culture dignitaries.” If you’re in the region call in and take part.

TKR is willing to give space to any charity events, such as Quackfest, free of charge. So please send them in.

Last week I gathered together several rumours, saying “one has to love them”. Love them I do, because life is not black and white and sifting truth from fable is always fascinating. One of the rumours concerned Campbell Mattinson relinquishing his role as a Halliday Wine Companion reviewer. It was true but didn’t qualify as a rumour because Mattinson had already announced his quitting the gig. He said he felt a relief and could now get on with his own writing. Good. I look forward to reading whatever he writes.

There’s been plenty more rumour about Paul Schaafsma relinquishing the Accolade Wines CEO position. But it’s all conjecture, and for legal reasons best not spoken about, let alone published.

“The WFA wants to work closely with the government to ensure that changes to other aspects of the eligibility criteria do not disadvantage or discourage innovation, growth, profitability or regional employment by genuine winemaking businesses.”

This was the message from the Winemakers’ Federation last week. The crux is the proposed reduction of the wine equalisation tax (WET) rebate from $500,000 to $350,000 on July 1, 2017, and then a further reduction to $290,000 from July 1, 2018.

The WFA urges all involved in the wine industry to submit to the consultation possess via this link

Do so. It is important. Going back to earlier times, in tussles with government in 1999 the WFA was confident it had negotiated a WET of 24.5 per cent. The government announced it would be 29 per cent. There is no guarantee that what is asked for will be given, but if you don’t ask…

An article by Joanna Mather in the Financial Review on September 4 said:

“The government announced it would tighten eligibility to the WET rebate in the May federal budget.

“The changes will save $300 million over four years, $50 million of which would be given to the Australian Grape and Wine Authority to promote Australia products internationally and encourage wine tourism at home.”

It’s a good, sound article covering the main facts. Mather quoted Kingston Estate managing director Bill Moularadellis and said he had “called for the influence of big retailers such as supermarkets to be reduced further”.

She also interviewed Corrina Wright, director of McLaren Vale-based  Oliver’s Taranga. Though the family has been in the Vale for six generations and owns 120 hectares of vineyard, along with a cellar door, it does not own or lease a winery, so would be excluded from any WET rebate.

The supermarkets are what they are, and they will adapt to whatever the outcome. Why Moularadellis is wasting time and breath is unfathomable.

The subject also received coverage in The Sydney Moring Herald. An article by Madeleine Heffernan quoted several wine people.

Angus McPherson, Treasury Wine Estate’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, said:

“These reforms are consistent with the rebate’s original intent and will help address the distortionary aspects of the current system which have done so much damage to the Australian wine industry.”

Alister Purbrick, from Victorian winery Tahbilk, said the changes would not boost retail prices:

“As far as the consumer is concerned, it won’t make a difference. The marketplace in Australia is very competitive at the moment.”

Mitchell Taylor’s quote, or misquote, can be found in The Sediment section.

The Government’s implementation paper can be read here

Also urging its members to use their votes is Wine Grape Growers Australia (WGGA). Today (September 8) is the last chance. WGGA has sent out a release warning members of the repercussions of not voting. Put simply, no interest in voting translates to no WGGA.

WGGA has also been spending more money than is coming in. It needs support to access money. These are desperate times for grape growers and for WGGA. What the growers want is more money for their grapes. It appears they think WGGA can persuade producers to up their prices. It can’t.

Growers do need a peak body to represent them. The current WGGA is as good as any.

Congratulations to Yarra Valley-based Domaine Chandon for winning Best Australian Sparkling Wine with its Chandon Prestige Cuvée 2005. The trophy was awarded at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships 2016 held in London.

Worth a read: The state of Australian wine: James Halliday on current affairs and what lies ahead

It’s not really about the industry as such – the title is misleading – but more about which grape varieties are on the up and on the decline. As said, it’s worth reading.

May your quack be quick and may the rumour mill keep grinding.


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