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2018… The Year That Was in the Australian wine industry

By Sunday 16 December 2018No Comments

• An edited version of an article that appeared in our Friday e-bulletin The Week That Was…

In January 1,000 visitors a day pay $10 to see The Cube at d’Arenberg.

Margan picks Chardonnay on 5 January and Wine Australia starts splashing the cash.

January-February WBM cover boy Brian Croser says, “I am opinionated, but this is an industry full of opinionated people and I’ve at least been consistent.”

Julian Langworthy of Deep Woods and Glenn Goodall of Xanadu start their Instagram bin wars. They’ll never amount to anything. If you want to win stuff you can’t muck around. Julian won the Jimmy Watson two years ago but that was a fluke. Will never happen again.

Exports reach a post-GFC high of $2.56 billion.

Darren De Bortoli is pilloried for something he said on Facebook. Emeri says sorry.

March-April cover girl Fiona Donald says, “This is 1987. I was 17 years old. I had no idea… Mum said ‘Len Evans is on the phone for you, you know, the bloke you wrote the letter to’.” Australian exports to China hit $1.04 billion. Still there are cynics.

Champ sells Accolade to Carlyle for $1 billion and the Americans sharpen the knives. Torbreck buys The Escarpment in Martinborough, Greenock Creek goes on the market, TWE sues ‘copycat’ Rush Rich and Malcolm Turnbull visits Wirra Wirra before being Catapulted out of the top job leading to the Scrubby Rise of ScoMo, the perennial Twelfth Man who would love Church Block without even tasting it.

May-June cover boy Jeffrey Grosset says, “For the first time in 38 years we’re going to open up our stocks of matured wines. Whether we like it or not, great wine is associated with age.”

There’s a spring in the step of Australian winemakers at Vinexpo Hong Kong who report a successful outing.

China gets the shits and holds up our ships.

Iain Riggs becomes Iain Riggs AM.

Marketers scramble to learn more about DTC sales and you’ll read all you need to know in WBM. North Korea starts talking to South Korea. Even more miraculous, Clare growers start talking to Clare winemakers and they form one group. Rhone wasn’t built in a day.

July-August cover boy Adrian Sparks says, “I drink a lot of Aussie stuff. A lot of winemakers have this intense knowledge of France and Burgundy – I’ve always been more interested in my own backyard. My knowledge of France is good but definitely not great.”

Rootstock Sydney dies and Penfolds says it will make wines from Napa Valley grapes, and a Champagne.

Dalefold has its export licence cancelled.

Langton’s Classification VII is launched with new entrants including By Farr Tout Pres Pinor Noir, Oliver’s Taranga Vineyards HJ Reserve Shiraz and Hoddles Creek 1er Pinot Noir.

Exports grow 20 percent to $2.76 billion but the US goes backwards. Wine Australia spends $1 million on Australia Decanted at Lake Tahoe, California.

TWE makes a $360 million profit and there are warnings in the industry about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug.

But Tasmania is smelling of roses with winegrapes nudging $3,000 per tonne.


Glenn Goodall (who mucks around too much to win anything) wins the Jimmy.

September-October cover boy Damien Tscharke says, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life… bullshit.”

The new Wine Australia board oozes tech-heads. Dowie Doole buys Possums Wines, Steve Pannell wins four Bushing Kings and drunks in the tent sing “Glory to the Bushing King… off your arses raise your glasses” and who says we’re not as sophisticated as the French?

Suppliers WineWorks, Amorim and Studio S2 Architects are among the winners in the Impact Awards.

Brown Brothers changes its name to the less blokey Brown Family Wine Group and Andrew Hardy leaves Petaluma to start Ox Hardy Wines.

The Wolf Blass Museum opens in Hahndorf and a Chinaman buys Greenock Creek for $13 million.

Warren Randall visits China for the 36th time since May 2011.

November-December cover girl Bec Duffy says, “The first month, I got a wholesale order for 16 cases of wine and one week at cellar door I did $120. I thought, ‘this might not be so good’.”

WBM introduces a new column, by Tony Love, in which winemakers reveal how their make their best wines.

Mayfield Family Wines is banned from exporting, Kate Goodman is crowned Winemaker of the Year at the Women in Wine Awards and Tuesner joins Spanish-owned Terramoll.

WFA merges with Australian Vignerons and Houghton shifts production to Nannup and the old cellar door and museum will close.

Torbreck reports record sales and Brokenwood opens a stunning cellar door.

De Bortoli Wines purchases Rutherglen Estates from Chinese interests.

Philip White gets sick and the wine industry rallies around him. There’s an auction. Please give generously.

Philip White. Photo: Milton Wordley.

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