The giant of the Australian wine industry is quietly stirring; slowly, deliberately, respectfully, almost indiscernibly but with measured stroke. The region, at times, offhandedly labelled as ‘just the Riverland’, is calmly reassuring observers her heart is beating strongly, she is not asleep; she is vibrant, formidable, poised for the new Australian Wine era. Her community of winegrowers and winemakers are bold, ambitious, generous people. She knows them as ‘ongoers’, not to be overlooked, ignored, nor taken for granted.
Recognition and esteem are not always represented by trophies or gold, silver and bronze medallions. These are nice to have and the region’s own have plenty. Just as importantly, they take responsibility for their regional community, their environment, their prosperity and that of the industry more broadly.
Over the next six weeks this column will review and report progress of the ‘Riverland Spring’ that dawned on October 20, 2014 with the publication of the inaugural strategic plan, mapping the pathway till 2019 for Riverland winegrowers and winemakers. The launch was not flamboyant; not many bells and whistles but plenty of substance, plenty of hope, plenty of opportunity. The ‘ongoers’ had emerged from a decade littered with poor policy, shabby supply contracts, supply-demand imbalances, broken relationships, challenging exchange rates and the drought to drain all droughts.
The strategic plan prescribed five core themes to guide, to encourage, to renew, to stretch minds and provoke innovation, to set new standards and crucially to collaborate with others who share similar values and aspirations.
The report will reveal details of what has been achieved to date and what needs to be tweaked to keep the plan relevant. The themes that will be examined are: Leadership and engagement, Research, Development and Extension, Competitiveness, Market growth and the tough one, Profitability and Sustainability.