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Now here’s an idea for a big cheer-up!

Sunset, food, wine, friends – it’s the end of the week… 919 Wines and Sassy Brews are teaming up… come along to the Sundown Tapas Wine Bar – catch-up with friends at the end of the week, or gather with colleagues for the end of the work year, have a quick bite before heading out or stay for something more substantial.

Perhaps this most recent slam-dunk of a hail storm will motivate growers, government and the insurance industry time to revisit the age-old insurance question: why don’t farmers insure against such risks? Everyone knows the answer to that; premiums and claims administration are way beyond the capacity of most.

The damage from the November 4 storm across the Riverland has been estimated at $23.3M. The PIRSA Storm Assessment team, operating out of Loxton Research Centre have done an outstanding job making 211 property visits and assessing almost 8,000 hectares of all crops, including cereals, since the storm on the evening of November 4.

The Winegrape Council of South Australia (WGCSA) and South Australian Wine Industry Association (SAWIA) are inviting all winegrape grower members in the Riverland to a free workshop and BBQ lunch at the Riverland Field Days site on Tuesday, November 26.

Last Friday’s consultation with ACCC Deputy Chair and Commissioner Mick Keough and Commissioner Stephen Ridgeway was well conducted and informative. Not unexpectedly the ACCC team’s opening position was well aligned with conventional competition policy. The widely reported ‘warm-up session’ in Mildura the day before had broken the ice and the commissioners had a predictable, logical response to almost every proposition or allegation of inappropriate competitive behaviour by brokers, traders, speculators and ordinary everyday irrigators.

Late on Monday afternoon, anyone outdoors in the Riverland probably saw the menacing black storm clouds, prowling across the region.

It took about 10 minutes to thrash its way through vineyards and orchards in a strip, perhaps a kilometre wide, from New Residence, then across the river towards Barmera, Winkie, Glossop, Monash, the fringes of Renmark and up the Murtho road to the border.

Despite abject indifference from many of the region’s major buyers, Riverland winegrowers have been experimenting with Alternative varieties for many years. Martin Gransden, a recent Nuffield Graduate has offered to share his full report on a major study into the appropriateness of alternative varieties in our inland regions.

Last week’s column piece on the ‘water’ situation was a call for action. The final paragraph suggested ‘we have an opportunity to harness the heightened community awareness and find ways to make some bold decisions etc…

On Sunday afternoon, in glorious Riverland sunshine, Eric Semmler delivered a Masterclass to surpass all Masterclasses, under the ancient gums, opposite Heading Cliffs, one of the Riverland’s most remarkable riverscapes.

If Monday night’s QandA was any indication, everyone around the country is now focussed on the water challenge. Industry leaders, state and federal government departments and politicians are slowly beginning to coalesce into a coherent assembly of concerned Australians. We must harness this widespread community interest. The drought is dragging on and on. There is no time left for endless consultations. While so many are now focussed, it’s time for thinking outside the box and making decisions that might fly in the face of policies and regulations, but it must be so.

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