Riverland rising to the challenge, Monkey business

River rising

Among the best news this week was the announcement of the Riverland Trust Mark The inaugural recipients are:

The Riverland has a lot to offer in so many ways. Also launching officially this week was the 100th monkey Vignerons Group  which consists of:

Ricca Terra Farms Specialises in alternative wine grape varieties and has planted:

  • Bianco d’alessano
  • Cabernet sauvignon (Entav-Inra clones)
  • Carmenere
  • Durif
  • Fiano
  • Slancamenca bela
  • Lagrein
  • Merlot (superior clones)
  • Montepulciano
  • Muscat giallo
  • Nero d’avola
  • Orange muscat
  • Zibibbo

Karelia Station A 256-hectare mixed land use farm with 50 hectares of vines producing 1500 tonnes of grapes, including:

  • Merlot
  • Chardonnay
  • Muscat blanc
  • Pinot gris
  • Grenache

Liebich Family Vineyards Owned and operated by four brothers across seven sites along the Murray River stretching from Cadell to Waikerie. It has 230 hectares of vines, producing about 6000 tonnes of grapes a year. Varieties include:

  • Durif
  • Cabernet
  • Shiraz
  • Mataro
  • Grenache
  • Gordo
  • Petit verdot
  • Merlot
  • Colombard
  • Chardonnay
  • Semillon
  • Pinot noir
  • Sauvignon blanc

Sherwood Estates Manages 200 hectares of wine grapes consisting of all the major varieties and the interesting bianco d’alessano.

There is more to the 100th Monkey Vignerons than growing grapes. All members care greatly for the land and encourage wetlands and water management. Other offerings include vineyard investment opportunities and vineyard management.

Organics will play an increasing role in 100th Monkey development. Karelia Station plans to be certified organic by March 2017. Currently the organic supply comes via an associate member (Nick Sortiroulis, who is in Renmark).

Sortiroulis will play a major role in the organic push of 100th Monkey Vignerons, along with the other foundation members. All the organically certified grapes will be branded under the Karelia Station brand, no matter who grows them. It’s the same strategy that has been used successfully with alternative varieties and Ricca Terra Farms.

There is activity all along the river. Younger generations are taking over and looking outward, and new ideas are being taken up and adapted to suit the region. It’s wonderful to see, and TKR applauds the progress.

Post haste 

“Australian wine producers could benefit from Brexit”, by Courtney Bembridge, was a post on the ABC website on June 27. It was also put as the lead story on Daily Wine News.

We despair at such articles. And despair even more that Daily Wine News just laps it up as if it holds real advice for the Australian wine industry.

The story says: “As the impact of Brexit plays out on markets and commodities around the world, Australian winemakers could emerge as unlikely winners.”

The idea based on the tax that is imposed on wine entering the EU. As the UK is now on the way out of the EU, it’s more than possible this tax, the common customs tariff (CCT), will no longer apply, saving Australian wine exporters about $42 million a year.

TKR covered this issue on June 2. It’s our view that UK retailers, especially the large supermarket groups, will put pressure on producers to use this saving to reduce prices. Therefore it will not be the boon that Bembridge suggests.

We contacted Wine Australia (WA) CEO Andreas Clark, and asked if he thought WA should explain this issue in greater detail to stop speculation before it gets out of hand.

Clark:

Commentary on Brexit and its implications is really just speculation at the moment in the absence of further details regarding the UK’s exit from the EU, which I understand could take up to two years at least.

“Clearly there are always a range of factors impacting pricing and competitiveness, including tariffs, excise duties and forex. It’s hard to make any concrete assessments until we know more.

“We know that we currently face an import duty into the EU which may no longer apply in the UK post exit (depending of course on what the UK decides to do) which would be to our advantage but that assumes everything else being equal, including the exchange rate.”

Returning to the Bembridge’s article, she quotes the head of Wines of Western Australia, Larry Jorgensen.

“Let’s not forget how big the EU trading bloc is and the fact that the UK does most of its business with them, I don’t reckon they’re going to compromise too much on that for the sake of old friends.”

Jorgensen said currency markets were more likely to dictate the road ahead and he would be paying close attention to the value of the pound.

“If it stays low for a period of time then that will affect our ability to be competitive.”

Last week the exchange rate with the pound was about 50 cents. This week (Thursday afternoon) it’s over 55. If the pound remains weak this will go some way to negating any CCT benefits.

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