Vintage, marketing, vermouth, US Italian imports

Vintage is over, equipment cleaned and hoses hung up to drain. Now the business of marketing and selling begins. Winemakers will be on the road, pouring and talking about the 2015 wines and how good the 2016 vintage was.

Marketers will be marketing with the usual hit or miss results that we have come to expect. Surveys will be undertaken and results calculated. Will the vintage be up or down this year? I hope down. Though according to a Rabobank quarterly report Australia and New Zealand vintages are expected to be “historical average”. Will growers get increased prices this year? I hope so.

Mergers and acquisitions activity will continue, as will, we think, Chinese investment in the Australian wine industry (see the Balgownie story in Australian Wine News).

Interesting to see the results of a survey from Wine Intelligence that show online wine sales are on the increase in the UK. According to the survey sales went past £800 million ($1.54 billion) in 2015 and now account for 11 per cent of the UK market. The average price is pretty good as well, at £7 per bottle.

Vermouth has been in the doldrums for many years, but the cocktail fad in America is driving up import figures, which have increased 23 per cent in volume and 14 per cent in value. Most imports are from France and Italy.

According to Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, value wise Italy leads the wine import sector in the US with a value of US$1.75 billion ($2.26 billion) in 2015. Australia is down the table in fourth place with a value of US$429.9 million. New Zealand is on our heels at US$360 million.

In an exchange with a friend in the wine business in Europe, they wrote this:

“The wine industry is only a short step from farming, and farmers are always complaining and blaming…

“It’s a fundamentally low-profit industry, and that’s the fault of:

  • Government (tax/legislation)
  • Anti-alcohol lobby
  • Big producers
  • Big distributors
  • Media
  • Consumers
  • Just about anybody/everybody else

“Real brands don’t have to fear private labels. Coke worries about Pepsi – not Coles Cola. The trouble with wine is that the brands are so weak. If they deserve to be called brands at all. (Champagne is the exception.)”

Feel free to add, agree or disagree.

Our wine exports to the US are looking good. Or put another way, they look good in parts. Yellow Tail accounts for about 45 per cent of the total. Without wishing Yellow Tail to decline in sales, it would be good for other companies to increase their sales and give some depth to the reputation of Australian wine in the US.

There are a lot of wine grapes. Is there a need for another? The University of Minnesota has released itasca. It’s a cold-hardy grape, suitable for Minnesota wine.

A white wine grape, itasca has lower acidity and high sugar levels, coupled with high resistance to common grape pests such as downy and powdery mildew and the insect phylloxera. Itasca was identified in 2009 as an elite seedling and has been known as MN 1285.

Enjoy this week’s report, comment on any item you wish, or submit an article for inclusion.

There are still several regular readers whose names I do not know, if your e-mail starts dear reader, can you please send me your full name, company you work for (if in wine) if not private will do and which state you live in.

Have a good week with plenty of good food, wine and karma. The last is reliant on being kind to others.


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