Alice Baker discovers winemaking

Alice Baker discovers winemaking

In a well worn pair of Birkenstocks, Alice Baker divides her time between growing cactus, cooking, and creating boutique wines. Her and partner Tom Davidson live on a 1.6 hectare block in Robe, on the edge of the Southern Ocean in South Australia, so naturally they spend a bit of time at the beach too. A weathered, multi-coloured stage adorns the hill in their front paddock where chooks scratch through crunchy grass and veggies grow in abundance. After studying a graduate diploma of oenology and viticulture, Ms Baker discovered the charm of winemaking.

Pinot Noir Takes Wellington by Storm

New Zealand’s capital city played host to a celebration of the country’s second-most important variety, Pinot Noir. There was no Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in sight last week as 600 Pinotphiles from around the world descended upon New Zealand to discuss the famously fickle variety. The Pinot Noir NZ 2017 conference brought a host of very famous speakers to New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. The lineup included world wine authority Jancis Robinson, Japan’s first Master of Wine Kenichi Ohashi, and Tool frontman (and keen winemaker), Maynard James Keenan.

‘Moment of truth’ for NZ agriculture in 2017

New Zealand agriculture faces a “moment of truth” in 2017, according to a report by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank. In its recently-released New Zealand Agricultural Outlook 2017 report, Rabobank says as an industry traditionally characterised by a liberal operating environment, and a key beneficiary of several decades of global shift to freer trade, agriculture faces a period of heightened regulatory uncertainty and change on both fronts. Releasing the report, Rabobank Country Banking general manager Hayley Moynihan said 2017 was ushering in a period of considerable change and uncertainty for New Zealand agriculture.

English wine producers, the world is our oyster

Family run Black Dog Hill Vineyard in East Sussex is going global after landing a deal to supply its sparkling wines to 24 countries. Black Dog Hill Vineyard is a family business spanning three generations, with high ambitions to lead the emergence of boutique, grower-style English sparkling wines. Founded in 2007 by husband and wife team Jim and Anja Nolan, the Westmeston-based company is championing the evolution of English Sparkling wine.

Premium wines drives resurgence in North America

SALES of premium wines from Down Under are heading north as American drinkers discover there is more to the Australian story than kangaroos peddling Yellow Tail. Australian wine exports to the United States increased 3 percent in 2016, to AU$458 million. This was led by premium wines as exports above AU$10 per liter FOB grew by 23 per cent, to AU$41 million and the number of individual wines retailing at more than US$12 per bottle increased by 59 percent. It is a similar story in Canada, with exports of premium Australian wines (A$10 and above FOB) growing 9 per cent to C$26 million in 2016.

Yellow Tail’s Super Bowl ad ‘humiliates’ Australia

Thirty-second spot features an oddly muscular kangaroo, a ‘fun’ guy in a yellow suit and Ellie Gonsalves in a white bikini. The wine brand Yellow Tail has been accused of embarrassing Australia on the international stage with its Super Bowl advertisement featuring a woman in a bikini and a kangaroo in an apron. The Australian company’s 30-second spot in the first half of the Super Bowl introduced an estimated audience of 120 million viewers to a muscular, wine-slugging kangaroo: “If you see a roo at a party, it’s a good party.”

Vintage looms in ironstone country

Yangarra’s Ironheart Vineyard Shiraz, which grows just across my front fence, is well into veraison, or colouring, and looking very healthy, in spite of the warm, wet and humid summer. These biodynamic/organic vines have been hand-plucked three times this season to remove extraneous leaf so the bunches get dappled light and plenty of breeze. Note, too, how all shoots have been removed from below the cordon (the horizontal woody trunk) to admit maximum air movement. This breeze dries the bunches and bark during humid spells, so reducing the requirement for fungicide spray.

Shottesbrooke Vineyards eyes expansion

McLaren Vale winery, Shottesbrooke Vineyards, is expanding its east coast footprint after signing a distribution partnership with The Wine Company (TWC). A second-generation wine business, Shottesbrooke boasts an extensive portfolio of wines produced from McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills. The company also owns a state-of-the-art winery complex which has recently undergone a major transformation. Speaking of the new partnership, Shottesbrooke General Manager and Winemaker, Hamish Maguire, said that the company had been seeking a strong distribution partner on the east coast for some time, and had approached TWC with this goal in mind.

I’ll See Your Wild Ferment and Raise You Another

Few things more starkly divide the winemaking world than the philosophy surrounding how fermentation takes place. This is both a literal and philosophical separation. As the single most important chemical change in the context of winemaking (the conversion of the fruit’s sugars to alcohol) it might be said that the method of fermentation is among the most significant ways that the winemaker can shape the final wine. In my 13 years of visiting wineries, meeting with winemakers and talking with them about their craft, few ideas are held more strongly than a winemaker’s point of view on native (using yeasts found on the grapes and in the winery environment) versus inoculated (using commercially developed yeasts) fermentation.

Bulgaria’s best customers are Poland and Australia

Bulgaria’s best customer for exports of its wine is – among EU countries – Poland, while among non-EU countries, the best customer is Australia. This emerges from figures for 2011 to 2015, released by Bulgaria’s National Statistical Institute (NSI). Among EU member states, Poland bought more than 70 million litres of wine from Bulgaria. Far behind, but in second place, was Romania, at about 25 million litres, followed by the Czech Republic, at about 15 million litres. Among non-EU countries, Australia imported about 65 million litres of wine from Bulgaria.

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