Interesting reader exchanges

I’ve had some interesting exchanges with readers this past week, and even with a non-reader. I have been trying to ascertain who wants to sponsor TKR. When I sent out the original outline for the new-format TKR, many responded “yes” or “no” to sponsorship, with or without an advert or listing.

Needless to say, my income has declined, dropping from tiny to minuscule. Yet readership has increased considerably. It was interesting to read during the week that the Guardian Media Group lost £68.7 million ($120.5 million) in the past year on top of a £14.7 million loss in the previous year following its experiment in open journalism. If the great Guardian can’t make it pay, it’s hardly surprising TKR struggles.

Chasing one previous long-time supporter for a yes or no answer, I received a note from their new marketing person. Looking at this reader’s history I see they haven’t bothered to open TKR, but what did make me smile was: “We won’t participate this time around. All the best with TKR in future.”

Without support there won’t be a future for TKR.

I had the following exchange with another past supporter:

Supporter: Apologies for not getting back to you sooner… We are suffering slightly from the cash flow implications of our biggest vintage ever but we would like to support in some way if we can. I’m assuming the sponsorship arrangement is one flat fee of $250 as per the invoice?

TKR: Yes [name] it is, if you want to hold back on payment for a while just let me know. It’s the uncertainty and lack of response that gives me the shits.

Supporter: I will flag with accounts to process in September.

Arrangements can always be made. I understand these are difficult times, despite the positivity that the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Wine Australia exude. If I have sent you an email, all I am after is a yes or no answer, or a payment date that suits you better.

I will continue to support TKR as long as I can, but it is getting harder. Do you really want to sink into accepting so-called articles that only convey the message the originating company wants you to read? Or do you want analyses, counter-argument and some passion?

There was also this correspondence:

Reader quoting TKR July 21: Growth in >$4.99 [exports]. Clearly there has been increase in the wine to just the >$5 sector – so should we jump with joy on such small wins. There are stats and stats!    

If you reworked the pre and post figures for >$5.99 and not <$4.99 I wonder what the gain would be – bugger all!

TKR: I will look into it.

Reader: Look thru the stats and ask more questions.

TKR: I will do that also, but I am a one-man band that the industry does not fully support. You should try living on the money I do.

From TKR July 21: How come we are still producing wine in this sector? And what does it say about Australia?

Reader: Actually Tony – it says bugger all. It is quite natural in the global wine industry to produce cheap and expensive wine and thank god for that as many global consumers can only afford cheap wine.

TKR: There is cheap nasty and cheap good. Cheap is one thing but there is a lot of shit still going out and that does us no good at all. Spain is going through the same issue, so much very cheap wine pulling down all price brackets above.

Reader: So why can France produce at €2 pricing equivalent happily and also sell bottles at €4000?    Can you hear the French cursing cheap wine?

TKR: I have said this before and totally agree with you.

Reader: Yet when Australia does it is cursed. You are falling for the Wine Australia rhetoric about premium wines.

TKR: If you read the article re [Associate Professor Paul] Kenny (July 28) I say, “TKR can’t accept the argument that high tax forces producers to drop fine wine for commercial wine. There is more than enough fine wine in Australia, as much as people want to pay for.” I fall under no influence, none.

Reader: At $2.50 per litre warm climate vineyards make good money.

TKR: 15.59 million litres of bottled wine exported at $2.50 litre or less (average $2.15 a litre). This is bottled wine. Take the average of $2.15, that is $19.35 for a nine-litre case, take off the estimated $12-$15 a case for bottling, bottle, cap, box, label and transport to dockside, that leaves somewhere in the region of 48 to 82 cents a litre for wine, and that is including production. Not a lot of profit there.

Reader: The demand for buying warm climate vineyards outstrips demand. Why curse warm climate who pay for most of the Wine Australia levies toward premiumisation!

TKR: For goodness’ sake [name], I’m defending warm climate and showing it’s being unfairly treated when WFA says how much the price per tonne has increased. As for buying vineyards, take out Warren Mason and John Casella in the past year or so and tell me what is left.

Reader: I wonder who will cry out most for lack of levies when the Wine Australia marketing has successfully cleared Sunraysia out of wine grapes.

TKR: Do we really need a 1.8 million tonne vintage? It’s not the growing of grapes [name], it is the selling of the finished product. If the market can be found (any market) that pays the price that in turn trickles down through all in the chain then it is pointless producing the grapes in the first place.

Second email:

Reader: All good points you raise in response to my general vent of where industry is going. I am not actually agitating you per se – it’s more general.  There are few people one can vent with who have the knowledge of the overall industry as you have – so thank you for responding.

I assume we are paid up for our subscription? If not, please send invoice.

It’s good to have people who challenge what I write. I have been looking through the lists of those who actually read TKR. It’s very impressive, and includes those who have the greatest influence on the Australian wine industry. I’m conceited enough to say these smart and busy people wouldn’t bother unless they thought there was something worth reading.

Drink and eat well this coming week and consider supporting TKR in any way you can.


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