Damien Tscharke from Tscharke Wines in the Barossa ponders the massive challenge facing the Australian wine community – and it isn’t China.
China: It’s not the real problem.
If Australia is an incredible wine producing country then why is it so hard to grow export markets?
We know the quality is there and we have no issue winning international trophies.
And yet the global consumption of wine is greater today than it was 20 years ago.
Let’s face it, Australia isn’t as appealing to consumers globally as it once was.
There is a massive challenge facing the future of the Australian wine community and it isn’t China.
There is a clear issue driving the current crisis facing many wine grapegrowers and winemakers, and it’s holding back the reputation of Australian wine.
The oversupply of wine brands that lack integrity which in turn put pressure on all brands.
The talk of a vine-pull scheme is nonsense and won’t resolve the issues.
What we need is an equivalent vine-pull scheme that pulls out the shit brands!
Australia is dominated by ten or so winemakers producing something like 80 percent of all wine.
There is a need for greater regulation of the giants.
If the giants alone were regulated on future growth and production it would immediately help correct the ongoing issue of oversupply and this has been happening for years.
If Australia has too much wine, why are we allowing for one of the giants to expand its winery capacity in the heart of Barossa and at the same time be incentivised with tax concessions in doing so?!?
Then wine labels and brands.
Australia is full of shit brands that take the piss.
Labels disguising themselves as the real deal, but are nothing more than fake eyelashes.
Australia needs greater regulation of branding to help consumers locally and internationally navigate the virtual brands for the real McCoy’s.
Ultimately all wine buyers would preference authenticity, brands that provide a lifestyle of a place or an image that resonates with them on an emotive level (French wine can be associated with tradition, romance, integrity).
Wouldn’t it be great to have a wine show for brands, and it probably doesn’t need to be subjective. i.e. is there consistency in the source of fruit, how many vintages has the wine under its belt, is the brand locally owned etc.
What does the brand ‘Wine of Australia’ stand for?
We seem to have the quality of wine down pat, but our branding and labelling could do with more inspiration.
Regions like our own Barossa also needs to tighten regulations, why not set a minimum price per tonne, say for Shiraz.
Growers will be encouraged to grow better fruit because if it doesn’t make the grade no winemaker will be able to value add it and if a minimum price isn’t paid then the brand ‘Barossa’ shouldn’t be used on the label.
This way the vultures can still prey on the vulnerable but at least we can protect the Brand of Barossa from exploitation and maintain a minimum regional wine quality standard.
Even if China opens its doors to Australian wine the problem won’t go away.
We need to do more than preserve old vines… we need to start preserving great brands.
If we are looking to China as our solution, then Wine Australia might as well wake up and realise we are doing nothing more than promoting another commodity.
Maybe paying closer attention to barley producers will give us better results.
To fix the current issues, tough decisions need to be made about the state of play in Australian winemaking and I frankly don’t think we’ve got the guts to do it because it might upset some.
Please note this message was written impulsively and ‘without prejudice’.
Oh, and congratulations on the latest issue of WBM and the cracking write-up on Charlie – very inspiring.