Brickbats and bouquets

It’s been a dark dawn to the year for growers and winemakers with plunging indicative prices, protracted hot spells, prowling powdery mildew, troublesome fires, insidious fruit flies and more than the usual assortment of confusing and mixed market signals. Reluctantly but grimly, many growers are picking winegrapes before prices are settled. Many are muttering… “It’s just one of those years” through gritted teeth.
The scourges of nature: fires, flies, powdery and hot weather are unwelcome but they can be understood; they can be managed and they pass and we learn how to manage better next time. It seems however with markets, there is little opportunity to gain the wisdom needed to avoid the price pits. The red grape price-plunge was so unexpected.

Thankfully we have telephones and they run hot at times like this. Wisely, many growers seek solace in talking to others. The phone is a great tool for lightening the load. It’s worked well for many who have picked it up and used it to help find a buyer for unsold fruit. Others feel better after “unloading” and realising they are not alone. Brickbats have been doled out generously… at bulk wine rates… 3 for $30

Bouquets are scarce at times like this so it was mighty pleasing last week to hear from two growers who rang to shine a light on their winery. They commented that although times are tough and they are by no means “out of the woods” they are pleased to be doing business with the family owned Yalumba Wine Company. As they reported it, management compiled indicative prices, based on reasonable expectation of what their markets would bear. These were put to their suppliers for consideration and feedback, then back to the drawing board for more deliberation. Prices were revised upwards and those variations made a worthwhile difference. Moreover it sent a clear signal that Yalumba is working in solid partnership with its grower community, sharing the pain and in the longer run… sharing the gains.

If you have a positive story to tell don’t hesitate to let us know by email (admin@riverlandwine.com.au) or telephone: 8584 6399. If your story is not a positive one, please pick up the phone and share it also. Prices may not improve but most often it helps to tell someone. Incidentally, more than 4,000 tonnes of grapes have moved off the “unsold grapes register” this past fortnight, mainly through using the phone!

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