The waning Riverland wine industry has received a funding boost from the South Australian Government, with a commitment to spend $200,000 over two years to bolster its sustainability.
The funding comes after a glut in red wine production in recent years on top of falling demand and market access disruptions. As a result, some grape growers have been forced to pull their vines out and switch to planting fruit or other crops.
The Riverland Wine Industry Blueprint has five strategic priorities that will help improve the sector’s competitiveness and restore long-term viability. The blueprint itself cost $100,000 to develop, with funding provided by Riverland Wine, Wine Australia and the Wine Grape Council of SA.
The five priorities are a rapid transition to more sustainable production levels, becoming an adaptable wine region responding to trends and filling market gaps, developing and promoting a meaningful regional identity, developing passionate leaders and a skilled workforce, and supporting agile wine businesses that are sustainable and profitable.
The SA Government said there is an opportunity for the Riverland wine industry to fill gaps in the market by developing new and sustainable grape and wine products, including more interesting varietal mixes, lighter style reds, more white wine, low and no alcohol wines and environmentally friendly packaging options.
The blueprint says Riverland’s global reputation as a wine region among domestic and international consumers and trade customers must be built up to attract investment to the region.
Last month, the state government announced a grant scheme to subsidise commercial trials of a chemical called Ethephon, which has been found to put red wine vines into a ‘production hold’.
The rebate subsidy program aims to protect the long-term value of the wine industry by reimbursing the $40 per hectare cost of Ethephon for up to 5,000 hectares and buying some time while growers consider future business decisions.
SA Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Clare Scriven said growers and producers in the Riverland wine region have been through one of the industry’s toughest periods.
“This investment will help support the region’s grape growers and winemakers to get on the road to recovery,” she said.
“We are committed to working in collaboration with the Riverland wine industry to help implement the recommendations identified in the blueprint as priorities, which is why I’m delighted to announce after initially funding the development of this blueprint we are now able to provide further funding for its application.”
Riverland Wine Executive Officer Lyndall Rowe added, “This blueprint will assist the Riverland wine industry as it continues to deal with ongoing challenging conditions and navigates its way through changes to improve productivity and ensure sustainability of the sector over the next decade.
“By working together, industry and government have come up with this strategic plan to ensure a return to sustainable and profitable grape and wine production in the region.”