In this week's instalment of citizen journalism, Port Macquarie based winemaker John Cassegrain reflects on the sales growth enjoyed by NSW wine industry and the urgent need for the state to differentiate both itself and its wine regions.

“As the wine-glut debate rages, it is interesting to examine the Australian wine industry as a series of individual regions in order to analyse the total capabilities of the business as a whole.

As a winemaker based in Port Macquarie, I see a dire need for the NSW wine industry to start differentiating itself both as a state and in terms of its regions.

Currently the NSW wine industry is experiencing real growth in sales within our own state as the latest data demonstrates that in the last 12 months, sales of NSW wines have grown by 14.6 percent. While this is pleasing, the sobering truth is that this is from a fairly small base.

A year ago, wines labelled as coming from a NSW wine region had only a touch over seven percent of the bottle wine market in NSW. This has now grown to just over nine percent, and while this is heading in the right direction, the NSW wine industry has a lot of potential yet unrealised.

It is not uncommon to see a wine list in Sydney with only one or two wines from NSW, several wines from Western Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, and an even broader selection from New Zealand and South Australia. Slowly things are improving, due in no small part to the great work being done by the NSW Wine Industry Association.

NSW is the oldest wine producing state in Australia, but for too long the focus has been on the well established regions of the Hunter Valley, the MIA, and to a lesser extent Mudgee. Although they are not bad regions, they have not excited the wine media or the opinion makers as much as other new regions from other states or the high profile well-established regions such as Coonawarra.

To many people in the trade, the Hunter is more about tourism than great wines, although unfairly when you look at the track record of show awards, and Griffith is known more for its bulk wine rather than the magnificent dessert wines it produces.

What is really exciting is that the newly emerging and environmentally sustainable regions of NSW such as Orange, Tumbarumba and New England are beginning to receive recognition from wine critics and industry heavyweights.

There is little doubt that the state of NSW has some superior wine regions and once awareness of these increases, growth of market share within the state will help the NSW industry develop as a whole.”

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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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