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Wine Australia praised despite Foster's no-show

Published:  23 July, 2008

by Stuart Peskett
It may have been a smaller event than two years ago, but the overriding reaction to Wine Australia 2006, which took place in Sydney last month, was extremely positive.

The show, which was organised by the Winemakers' Federation of Australia (WFA), drew more than 4,000 trade visitors and nearly 10,000 members of the public to the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre for the three-day event. This was the third such event in Sydney, and the consensus among producers was that, after troublesome shows in 2002 and 2004, this year's event was the best yet.

Steven Strachan, WFA CEO, told Harpers: Up until the last event we tried to target certain consumers - people who drink less than once a week - but in terms of this event, it didn't really work, and the exhibitors paid lip service to that, and sought out the media and the trade.'

Paul Henry, general manager, market development, for the Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation, said that reaction to the show had been unanimously positive', adding that the interest shown by distributors and shippers was a good pointer for the future of the show.

Mike Brown of McLaren Vale producer Gemtree suggested

that the event be opened up to international producers, or

at least bring the Kiwis in'. The Foster's Group was conspicuous by its absence, an absence described by Strachan as disappointing'. Other notable absentees included Brown Brothers, De Bortoli and Angove's. Others were less downhearted at the big-name no-shows, such as James Campkin, chief winemaker at Hope Estate, who said: When people see the big names, they go straight to them, so when they're not here, it makes people a little more adventurous.' And Gary Collins of negociant and exporter SaltCollins added: It means more room for the rest of us. Also, Fosters are that bloody big that they could run their own Wine Australia!'

Rell Hannah, director of corporate affairs at Foster's Wine Estates, commented: The event offers a great showcase for small "discovery" labels. Because consumers enjoy plenty of access to our major brands, the discovery format is not particularly relevant for us.'

For a full report on Wine Australia 2006, see the

25 August issue of Harpers.