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The good, the bad and the future of NSW wine

The good, the bad and the future of NSW wine

When the new Sydney International Convention Centre opened at the end of last year, it released a wine list containing 80 per cent of wines produced in New South Wales. This was a fantastic result for NSW winemakers, highlighting the quality and diversity that is being produced from New England in the north to Perricoota in the south. And a great way to start 2017, with our state wines being exposed to tens of thousands of international delegates each year and having an impact on the world stage.

By Angus Barnes, Acting Executive Officer of the NSW Wine Industry Association

The successes of this year haven’t stopped there. At the beginning of 2017, Wine Ark announced that two boutique NSW wines (Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier 2015 from Canberra and Lake’s Folly Cabernet 2014 from the Hunter Valley) were at the top of the list of wines added to its 16 cellars across Australia, by clients from over 30 countries.

Major trophies for some of the state’s wines were also collected at the 2016 Sydney Royal Wine Show (including five trophies to Chalkers Crossing from Hilltops, De Bortoli from the Riverina, and Tyrrell’s, Brokenwood and De Iuliis from the Hunter Valley); the 2017 Australian Cool Climate Wine Show (Shaw Vineyard Estate from Canberra); the 2017 Winewise Championship (Tintilla Estate from the Hunter Valley); and the 2017 Sydney International Wine Competition (Coolangatta Estate from Shoalhaven and Berton Vineyards in the Riverina).

The growing diversity of our wines and increasing quality of our lesser known wine regions was again highlighted at the 2016 NSW Wine Awards, where the big winners came from not only the Hunter, Orange and Mudgee, but also from the Central Ranges, Southern Highlands and Hilltops. The overall medal count was also up again with our Chair of Judges, PJ Charteris, commenting that this was a tribute to the passion and strength of the NSW wine industry, with resident winemakers having a red hot crack at producing high quality wines from old and new varietals. Major trophy winners at this show included Tyrrell’s Vat 1 Semillon 2009, Hunter Valley – Best Dry White and the big trophy to Windowrie Estate The Mill Shiraz 2015, Cowra – NSW Wine of the Year.

I think it’s fair to say that NSW is currently making some of the best wines that have ever come from this state, but we still have some challenges ahead. A study recently completed for us by Wine Business Solutions showed that listings of NSW wines on NSW and ACT restaurant wine lists have decreased over the last 12 months. Numbers have also decreased on wine lists across Australia. Imported wines are growing competition within this arena, but it is interesting to see that listings of local wines in Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia have not been as affected, and even grown in some areas.

Vintage at Tyrrell’s Wines, Photography by Jamie Gilmore, Studio DC3

So, what can NSW winemakers do about this? As we don’t generally have the large wine companies and big budgets based in the local wine regions, we need to do what smaller companies do best – innovate! Keep making bold, exciting wines, together with exceptional examples of the styles of wine that are very clearly what people want to drink, such as the recent popularity growth of cool climate shiraz and riesling. And get out into the market more to build relationships and showcase the hidden gems that are available.

For those who are looking for great wines, don’t ignore the active and growing global trend that is ‘localisation’, which is seen very strongly in the food industry and is now making waves in the wine world too. We would love to see this trend be embraced across the board and see everyone supporting their local producers and wines.

I think it’s also worth mentioning the growing tourism industry that exists in areas that have wineries, vineyards and cellar doors. There is a huge benefit for regional tourism for both NSW in general and its wine regions in particular. The State government has a great website detailing visits to our wine regions – (and further search ‘wine regions’). Come and visit us, there is so much to see and do besides tasting wine!

We are really excited about the upcoming 2017 NSW Wine Awards, with entries opening this month and awards presented in October. I can’t wait to see the range of amazing new wines that are out there. We hope that Sydney, NSW and Australia will also be watching and support the talented and dedicated NSW wine industry. Follow news and updates on Facebook @NSWWine If you’d like more information about the 14 wine regions of NSW, then visit 

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