As our communities cautiously emerge from the COVID-19 hibernation, a new world may be realised.
Fortunately, the Riverland wine community has been able to continue through the 2020 ‘community lockdown’ period relatively unscathed. Harvest was completed without disruption and wineries continue the processing of vintage 2020 with great care. Care for both workers and wine.
Many other wine regions did not fare so well. Frost, heatwaves, drought, bush fires and smoke taint hit many regions severely. Consequently, the Riverland has been relied upon to supply greater volumes of premium wine grapes outside of the region. Many winemakers will experience a ‘Riverlution’ for the first time.
This is an opportunity for the Riverland to break free from the long-term image of supplying only cheap commodity bulk wine at low prices. With suitable care in the wineries, the Riverland’s best wine grapes have magnificent potential. The successful future of the local wine industry depends on increasing the value of Riverland wine consumed domestically and exported around the world.
Growers and winemakers will continue to be pressured by increasing costs of production. Without greater returns for quality wine grapes and premium wine, many of the Riverland vineyards will not be re-developed over time and eventually will be replaced by the current ‘highest value’ crop. Almonds, avocados, and citrus may substitute low value commodity bulk wine vineyards.
Unless the Riverland vineyards adopt greater technology to optimise inputs, lower costs where possible, and grow suitable varieties to produce higher value wine products, a successful future is unlikely.
Through innovative, persistent, and resilient leadership, Riverland Wine members can look to the future with excitement and confidence. Many projects designed to benefit contributors to the Riverland Wine Industry Fund are nearing fruition. During the next year or two, Riverland Wine members will be able to adopt the technologies created through research funded by industry levies.
Riverland on the Verge will be a valuable marketing tool available for members to promote their vineyards and wines around the world using ‘virtual reality’.
Hands off Hectares will bring technology only limited by imagination into the vineyards of the Riverland. “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got”. This is an opportunity to bring viticulture into the 21st century. Growers will be able to incorporate their real vineyard data into the daily decision-making process, rather than just ‘wing it’ and see.
Riverland Wine’s new Customer Relationship Management system will ensure members are well informed to take advantage of these post COVID-19 opportunities. If you choose not to contribute to the Riverland Wine Industry Fund, you may only get what you have always got.
‘Be bold, be ambitious, be generous.’