Government Scrooges, pomegranates replacing grapes

Scrooges whingeing again

The annual whingeing and wringing of hands that goes on when the UK or Australian government announces the content and cost of its wine cellars, it’s pure Scrooge.

Media and whatever the opposing party happens to be rant on about the cost and how the party in power is living it up at the taxpayer’s expense. The TKR view is that wine-producing countries should show the best they have and treat guests in a respectful and generous manner.

It was a relief to read an article on Virginie Routis, who is in charge of the French cellar, held at the Elysée Palace and containing about 14,000 bottles of wine.

Her budget last year amounted to €170,000 ($243,000). She sells some old stock to finance the buying of new wines.

The French are proud of their wines. They like to show them off. Why can’t Australia do the same? Thanks to climate change England has a flowering wine industry. Great sparkling wines are being made and TKR understands whites and some reds are progressing at a rapid rate quality wise. When each country finds billions to spend on armaments, a few thousand on wine is nothing in comparison. 

Seeds not juice

There could be light at the end of the tunnel for grape growers in the inland regions. Adelaide­-based Group Kinetica (GK) is a sustainable farming company that is finding profit in seeds, not juice.

Seeds, as in pomegranate, not juice as in wine. The company has launched PomPersia via seven test farms and is expecting to recruit 200 growers by 2025.

Because of pomegranate’s health benefits the global demand for the fruit is rapidly increasing, yet less than 2 per cent is grown in the Southern Hemisphere. The secret to Australian success is the gene bank that Kinetica has developed, with more than 300 varieties being grown on a test farm in the Adelaide Hills.

The idea is to get the right varieties on the right farms for maximum success. The possible attraction to grape growers is that the company is looking for small farms of 5 to 15 hectares that will sustain about 950 trees per hectare.

The trees and advice are supplied free, with PomPersia taking royalties when a commercial crop is produced. This is normally after three years.

The idea of several small farms in each region is so that a form of co-operative can be worked, with equipment shared as well as labour. All gather at one farm and pick that fruit, then move on to the next.

This is better than grapes, which all need to come off in a certain small time frame. It certainly appears worth looking at.

High hopes for wine and spliffs

Wine and a spliff: what could be better, some argue. Others argue against. An article in The Press Democrat by Bill Swindell on 2 December reported on a meeting held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, where about 200 people representing both the wine and cannabis industries met to discuss collaboration now that marijuana has been legalised for recreational use in California.

Swindell writes: “Vintners are still excited about joint marketing ventures with cannabis, particularly as a recent Gallup survey found 13 per cent of Americans use marijuana. Rebecca Stamey-White, an attorney at Hinman and Carmichael law firm in San Francisco who specialises in alcoholic beverage law, said she has received calls this year from winery clients interested in the ideas and issues that legal cannabis presents.”

Will it come to Australia? TKR believes in legalising cannabis for recreational use and is very interested in how the wine industry could relate to it if legalisation came about.

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