The Riverland has a multitude of hidden treasures: fine wines, world-class food products and fantastic tourism destinations. The fact that the majority of them are hidden treasures is a real problem, not only for visitors but also for those of us who live here and want to support our local producers and service providers. In recent years many of these treasures have been uncovered and new ones added to the list. Regrettably but more often than not, when locals or visitors ask where they can buy some of these terrific local products there are no easy answers. There are very few local retailers that stock and actively promote a wide selection of the local products and none that feature local products exclusively.
This column has often featured details of the region’s award winning wines but when readers are prompted to buy and try these products, it’s most often a long winded process. We let ourselves down and miss many opportunities to sell our own fine wine, food and travel products and services because of the lack of convenient retail outlets.
The State government has recently promoted the idea of “clusters” to encourage businesses that might normally be in competition with each other, to consider opportunities for collaborating with each other to create benefit for the enterprises concerned and the region’s economy. Generous grants have been offered. Riverland Wine has submitted an application hoping to secure grant funding to enable the local community to be rigourously consulted about the idea of setting up several Riverland retail outlets around the main towns to sell exclusively Riverland wine, food and tourism products. The emphasis will be very much on selling, not order taking! If the indications of widespread support for the concept are confirmed, part of the funding will be used to build a business case and to invite local entrepreneurs who may be interested in such collaboration (cluster).