Mixed feelings over wine industry vision

THE state government will invest $1.2 million into a plan to quadruple the state's wine industry over a decade, but it's not a vision shared by all in the industry. 

Grape growers welcomed the initial investment, which will support a modest 12 per cent increase in vineyards in 2013, urging the government to continue its cautious approach, rather than promote aggressive expansion. 

In her state of the state address to Parliament, Premier Lara Giddings yesterday announced the vineyard and orchard expansion plan, which will provide grants to existing winemakers looking to increase production. 

``It will generate an estimated $10 million in private investment and create more than 370 jobs plus a further 100 shorter-term planting positions,'' Ms Giddings said. 

``We have a vision to quadruple wine production over the next decade and this program will help that vision become a reality.'' 

It's this ambitious vision for four-fold expansion that has many in the industry worried. 

Wine Tasmania has a goal to increase the amount of vineyards  from 1600 hectares to 3500 hectares within the next three to five years. 

Asked if quadrupling the industry in 10 years was realistic, chief executive officer Sheralee Davies stressed the need for a market-led approach. 

``It ultimately is going to be down to that demand. It is difficult and challenging to put a figure in place because it's agriculture,'' Ms Davies said. 

Delamere Vineyard owner Shane Holloway said he would be interested in applying for a grant to potentially double the size of his vineyard. 

However, he said it was vital too much growth, too soon did not occur for Tasmanian wines to maintain their reputation for ultra premium quality. 

``The most important thing is for that growth to be done at a sustainable level,'' Mr Holloway said. 

Former winemaker, now Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said the grant scheme was sensible, but the 10-year vision was dangerous. 

``I don't think it's realistic or based on commercial realities,'' Senator Whish-Wilson said.    

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