By James Atkinson
Efforts to support Queensland's struggling wine industry should focus on encouraging Queenslanders to drink local, according to Terry Morris, owner of Granite Belt winery Sirromet.
In a media statement issued yesterday, Morris said the Queensland Government's efforts to support the state's wineries have so far lacked any clear focus.
"We were trying to be all things to all people, talking up export and other national sales," he said.
"Yet in my opinion the answer is in our own backyard," he said.
Morris said that if every adult Queenslander purchased two bottles of Queensland produced wine per year, replacing some of the interstate and imported wines they purchase, this would create sales of six million bottles per year.
"We don't have to create a new market – all we have to do is convert five per cent of the existing Queensland market to consuming Queensland wines instead of imported wines," he said.
"The Queensland wine industry now has the credibility and the ability to produce wines that are equal to any other wines. Mr James Halliday rates some Queensland wines as good as any others in his current 2013 Wine Companion book."
Morris said the economic flow-on effects would be significant for Queensland, creating short-term jobs for vineyard plantings and constructing new production facilities, as well as fulltime jobs "that will be around for centuries".
"The plan is to create a niche industry that will add greatly to the social fabric of our state, for wine is an historic business that has the potential to create many Queensland family wine producers to rival Brown Brothers in Victoria, Yalumba in South Australia, Tyrrell's in NSW, and Cullen in WA," he said.
He called on the government to underwrite the cost of the promotional program by diverting the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET) received on the additional sales to fund a campaign to get every wine-drinking Queenslander to drink at least two bottles of Queensland wine per year.