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Australian Grape & Wine, where are you?

By Saturday 24 June 2023July 11th, 2023No Comments

I am dismayed by the reappointment of Michele Allan AO as the chair of Wine Australia for the next three years.

Not that I should be surprised but I was!

My dismay is not directed at her but at Australian Grape & Wine for not vigorously and more effectively prosecuting for wine community leadership and membership of the Wine Australia board.

In merely accepting this reappointment Australian Grape & Wine demonstrate they are a pale shadow of the organisation I and others founded in 1990.

The Wine Australia board and the policy outcomes have suffered from the paucity of industry presence.

The Australian wine community is very different to the commodity producers of meat and wheat.

It is prime among the very few agriculturally based industries that grow, make, invent brand and story and physically tell that story with passion to global consumers.

That unique industry experience is universal among the 3,000 winemakers of Australia and that’s the wisdom required to make the complex promotional investment decisions required of Wine Australia.

Every Australian wine producer is trying to make better if not the best wine.

That requires understanding and manipulating the grapegrowing environment and employing winemaking practices sympathetic to the fruit from their vineyards.

The pursuit of quality improvement is more intense and critical for the Australian wine community than for other agricultural products.

That’s the wisdom required to make the investment decisions in research and education required of Wine Australia.

Meanwhile Wine Australia bows to the Governance God and to Canberra as it siphons scarce R&D investment funds off to bureaucratic joint ventures with the large commodity producers.

Again, the Australian wine community is very different in having its own world class research and development institution, the AWRI.

Its 70-year performance record is second to none in the world.

It now exists in a condition of diminished and uncertain funding, nearly two years after the board of Wine Australia signed off on the funding package.

The board of Wine Australia have a role to play in the name of good governance, by asking why the funding contract for the AWRI hasn’t been signed off nearly two years after it was agreed.

I shudder to think what another three years of misdirected priorities will do to the Australian wine community’s unique and precious research asset.

Where are you Australian Grape & Wine?

Why aren’t you succeeding in installing wine community leadership of our levy allocating statutory body?

Where are you in prosecuting for the levies to be based on value not volume to underwrite the future value of the funding flow to the institutions we inherited from our farsighted predecessors and are in peril of handing on to our successors in much diminished condition.

Where are you in protecting the funding of our industry’s most precious research and education asset, the AWRI?

Where are you Australian Grape & Wine?


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