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Did Alister bell the cat?

By Thursday 7 March 2024March 19th, 2024No Comments

Alister Purbrick, a board member of WGA, in his article “Blame The Perfect Storm” (WBM Jan/Feb 2024), may have unintentionally belled the cat on the reality that the One Grape & Wine Sector Plan may not be the all-embracing strategy to bring the industry together as it is made out to be.

He pleads Bill Moularadellis to put ACWP (Australian Commercial Wine Producers) on hold and come back into the Grape and Wine fold.

“We can do with his wise counsel on all the matters we’re actually in violent agreement on.”

Nice sentiment.

But then he reveals the hypocrisy of the conciliatory plea to the Commercial wine sector with this:

“It’s not to say that inland grown grapes and wine don’t have a place in what our future industry should look like, but it does mean that these winemakers’ wines should not be leading the charge.

“The harsh reality is that many of our international competitors such as Chile, Argentina, South Africa and some European countries have much lower cost of production and arguably make as good, if not better, warm area sourced wines – we simply can’t compete.”

Say that again?

That the biggest sector in the Australian wine industry which produces 65 percent of its grapes and wine and 80 percent of its exports, is dismissed as uncompetitive and that other countries can “arguably make as good, if not better, warm area sourced wines” is disingenuous.

The Australian wine industry is underpinned, domestically and internationally, by its commercial wines.

And of course its growers and wine producers stump up much more than half the total levies to fund the peak organisations.

Perhaps it’s time for the Premium Sector to increase its own levy payments and pay a value-based levy rather than bludge on the substantially larger but “uncompetitive” Commercial producers with the current volumetric levy.

It is to be hoped that this attitude is a personal one only and that AGW and Wine Australia recognise the Commercial Sector’s right to be equal partners with the Premium Sector in developing strategies and a plan to address the industry crisis.

The industry cannot address the crisis with the One Sector Plan or any other plan if it dismisses more than half its members’ wines as not being deserving of any part in “leading the charge” and which it believes are uncompetitive in the marketplace.

Such a position would be an indictment of the quality of leadership thinking.

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