Vignerons check pack­age fine print

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -


THE North East’s smaller vignerons are check­ing the fine print in a $50 mil­lion, three-year fed­eral government plan to build wine ex­ports and in­ter­na­tional wine tourism.

The government’s wine sup­port pack­age – an­nounced last week – ap­pears to have a re­gional fo­cus but a busi­ness plan in which the strat­egy is de­tailed shows that most wine tourists visit only the ma­jor pro­duc­tion re­gions close to Aus­tralia’s cap­i­tal cities.

The plan re­ported that al­most 1.1 mil­lion vis­i­tors went to Aus­tralia’s wineries in 2015.

It also showed that over­all vis­i­tor num­bers and cel­lar door sales were closely linked – with 1617 wineries main­tained a cel­lar door out­let, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment.

But the pro­por­tion of wineries with cel­lar door had fallen from al­most 80 per cent a decade ago to less than 66pc in 2016, ac­cord­ing to the plan.

Na­tion­als’ Vic­to­rian Sen­a­tor Brid­get McKen­zie said the pack­age had a twopronged ap­proach – to build ex­port op­por­tu­ni­ties and to en­cour­age tourists to taste wines in the state’s wine-pro­duc­ing re­gions.

She said the aim of the vis­i­tor strat­egy was to at­tract 40,000 more in­ter­na­tional tourists to Aus­tralian wine re­gions by 201920, which was ex­pected to de­liver an es­ti­mated $170 mil­lion to the na­tional econ­omy.

The pack­age was also de­signed to “cap­ture growth” in wine re­gions like the Alpine val­leys by of­fer­ing state-based and com­pet­i­tive grants to strengthen wine tourism.

The busi­ness plan of­fered ex­am­ples of pro­jects that could be funded, in­clud­ing re­gional wine events that in­crease cel­lar doors sales, the de­vel­op­ment of re­gional wine trails and “wine clus­ters” across state bor­ders, and com­mon in­fra­struc­ture – such as book­ing or reser­va­tion sys­tems – that aid in­di­vid­ual cel­lar door wineries and the re­gion in which th­ese op­er­ate.

Project pro­pos­als will be sub­jected to com­pet­i­tive, merit-based as­sess­ment and ap­proved by the Aus­tralian Grape and Wine Au­thor­ity board on the rec­om­men­da­tion of an ex­pert as­sess­ment panel be­fore be­ing pre­sented for min­is­te­rial ap­proval.

There is also some con­cern that smaller vignerons or re­gional as­so­ci­a­tions might be dis­ad­van­taged by the pack­age’s ex­port and in­ter­na­tional tourism de­vel­op­ment fo­cus.

CEL­LAR DOOR: Mer­ri­ang South vi­gneron Bri Lewis (right) talked with Cof­fee Chakra’s Leonie and Vivek Sharma, who brought baby Ishanya with them, to the open­ing of a new wine out­let in Myrtle­ford on Fri­day.

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