The week that was (1 June 2016)

So many wine stories this week …
- The WET palaver. What you need to know:
The Federal government have proposed changes to the wine equalisation tax rebate. This rebate was originally put in place to encourage small business. It currently includes rebates of up to $500k for wine makers – I think that’s wine makers who have an annual turn over of around $2 mill. Bizarrely this is also available to NZ winemakers. Businesses have been built with this rebate in mind. Rorting is also rife among larger wine makers (with turn over in the $100 mill mark).
In recent years the small/boutique wine making scene in Australia has boomed. This includes both those with wineries and those with vineyards. This is important, as being able to have one or the other (but not necessarily both) has allowed people to enter the market without massive over-heads, a huge problem with agriculture in general. If you don’t inherit, how else do you break in?? So, the issue here is twofold.


  1. Reducing the threshold (from $500k to $290k) will, without question, impact some small producers. While $2 mill turnover isn’t peanuts, it’s also not sheep stations – as any small business owner will attest to.
  2. However, what I see as the bigger issue, is the eligibility (or lack thereof) of those without a winery. The suggested changes indicate you must have a winery (not just the vines) to be included. The ‘virtual brand’ or ‘virtual winery’ is at threat. In the modern world we live in, this is so backwards, it's ridiculous. In fact, even in an old-fashioned world, in the peasant cultures of Europe, a central winery has always been the beating heart of small localised production, with co-ops and winery facilities available to borrow. How ludicrous to suggest we will only support people who have built wineries on their properties. (“To remove the rebate from virtual wineries – some of whom I have made and still make contract wine for – and from tiny operators working out of corners of wineries around the country, would most likely endanger the rich tapestry that Australian wine has become in the last 10-15 years. That alone should never be allowed to happen.” Gary Mills (Jamsheed).)

We need more small. We need less large. We want to encourage a youthful culture in the country, we want to encourage small business. This seems pretty simple to me. Read more on the Wine Front here and here, or William Downie’s rants here and here.  
- Natural wine labels got a touch up in Punch for being too raunchy. No, actually, for been outright sexist. I admit I love the Ganevat labels, in fact, I think they’re beautiful (particularly Madelon), but I totally see their point
- I enjoyed this piece about the elements that make up the ultimate wine bar by Andrea Frost. "In a culture where active appreciation of sensory pleasures is rapidly being replaced with accumulation of digital ones, taking a moment to ponder, admire or discuss a glass of wine with company is something closer to important than pleasurable."
As an aside, it was George Orwell’s essay describing his own fantasy pub, Moon Under Water, that inspired her to put pen to paper. It is a beautiful essay and a delightful (abeit fantasy) ideal.

“And though, strictly speaking, they are only allowed in the garden, the children tend to seep into the pub and even to fetch drinks for their parents. This, I believe, is against the law, but it is a law that deserves to be broken, for it is the puritanical nonsense of excluding children—and therefore, to some extent, women—from pubs that has turned these places into mere boozing-shops instead of the family gathering-places that they ought to be." 

Of course this particularly poignant this week, with the above news that the Melbourne pub named for the same will close - a pub that is, incidentally, one of my favourites. Do read it.

- Finally, if you're not watching series two of Chef's Table, you are missing out. It is what these colder, wintery nights are made for!