Monday, June 24, 2013

Guest Post: Why Tasmania Does Not Need More GI’s


 
In response to my piece last week arguing for a more formal carving up of regions within Tasmania, Paul Smart has penned the below counter-argument. Paul is a viticulturalist and winemaker at Pressing Matters (www.pressingmatters.com.au) in Tasmania.
 

I have been making wine now for 15 years in various places around Australia, with the last 7 years based here in Hobart, Tasmania, and with no wish of ever moving away.  Tasmania is a great place to live and a great place to make wine.  I will be here for a long time and as such I take a great interest in the future of the industry, not only for my winemaking wife and I, but also for our son.

I am writing this post in response to several views that been expressed about Tasmania needing to be split up from its current one GI (it actually is not a GI, but a State, technical difference) to multiple GI’s.  This could involve 4 GI’s based on the Wine Tasmania Touring Guide: North West, South, East and Tamar Valley, or even more to include other areas (eg. Derwent Valley, Upper Derwent Valley, Coal River, Huon, etc.). So why do we not need to carve up the State?

The first point is that the State is small, not in grand size, but in terms of wine production and area planted.  We currently sit 15th place of a crowded marketplace of 43 GI’s.

 
Region
2010 ha
 
Region
2010 ha
 
Region
2010 ha
1
Riverina
20,154
16
Heathcote
1,245
31
Granite Belt
331
2
Riverland
20,009
17
Geographe
1,181
32
Swan Hill (NSW)
308
3
Barossa Valley
9,763
18
Adelaide Plains
880
33
Tumbarumba
254
4
Murray Darling - VIC
8,339
19
Pyrenees
874
34
Gippsland
235
5
Murray Darling - NSW
6,533
20
Rutherglen
853
35
Macedon Ranges
224
6
McLaren Vale
6,490
21
Swan District
784
36
Southern Highlands
202
7
Langhorne Creek
5,957
22
Bendigo
771
37
Henty
183
8
Margaret River
4,894
23
Mornington Peninsula
752
38
Sunbury
129
9
Clare Valley
4,801
24
Perricoota
671
39
Peel
96
10
Swan Hill (VIC)
3,869
25
Geelong
515
40
The Peninsulas
93
11
Adelaide Hills
3,861
26
Grampians
506
41
Kangaroo Island
89
12
Hunter
3,450
27
Hilltops
484
42
Beechworth
57
13
Great Southern
2,804
28
Southern Fleurieu
414
43
Shoalhaven Coast
40
14
Yarra Valley
2,440
29
Gundagai
408
 
15
Tasmania
1,251
30
Strathbogie Ranges
369
 
 
 

Should we carve up into 4 GI’s, then we would be around the size of the Granite Belt, Swan Hill or Tumbarumba, regions that don’t have as much brand presence as others larger than Tasmania.  Carve it up even more and we become even less significant. 

Second point is that we are the only GI in Australia that is actually a State.  This means we have one entire State Government promoting and supporting one entire GI.  Should we split up, then each GI would compete with each of the other GI’s for the same source of funding and support. 

Third point is that to split us up, we would need to create multiple organisations to run them, each trying to promote Brand “insert GI name”, instead of how we are all currently focused, Brand Tasmania.  This splitting of resources would create inefficiencies and wastage, and would dilute the excellent job that Wine Tasmania is doing.

Fourth point is the marketing angle.  The argument that “if we can create separate areas, we can market better” is invalid.  A lot of producers are using local identifiers already, or Sub GI’s, such as Pressing Matters stating on their front label Coal River, Tasmania.  This works for high involvement consumers who want a more technical story.  But the majority of consumer don’t have a high involvement, and only remember large wine regions (ie. Barossa, Margaret River).  Dr Armando Corsi of the University of South Australia Marketing School has research that shows that “brand loyalty comes with greater share of the market”.  That can extend to Brand Tasmania loyalty, carve our share into multiple pieces and carve up the loyalty.

Fifth point is that Tasmania is a very hard place to grow grapes with multiple challenges. Some years some areas can get wiped out.  But by drawing lines through the State you are limiting individual companies from buying fruit from elsewhere in dire times. 

Sixth point, how do you draw the lines?  Can you just draw willy nilly on a map?  What about delineating by style?  There is no distinct, consistent style similarity within areas, nor a style difference between areas. This carve up process would divide people and create ill will within a small industry. 

So in summary I don’t think we need to be talking about this until we grow four fold.  I think we should keep pushing the wheelbarrow of Brand Tasmania, as collaboration is much better than division.  The current system of using local identifiers works for high involvement consumers, and maybe we could formalise some Sub-GI’s in the future (cost?). Tasmania has a bright future, and I can’t wait for the ride!

 

1 comment:

Sean Mitchell said...

There are some cogent arguments here. One might even question the worth of GIs at all noting they are more like the American AVA system (though they have been much keener there with issuing AVAs) and unaccompanied by constraints as to style, yields, grape varieties etc cf. the AOP regimes of Europe (not that those regimes don't have different problems).

Yet that said it seems hard to ignore that a positive vinous vision of the future of Tasmania might one day involve the celebration of subregional differences in iconic Tasmanian vineyards. Given the wide climatic and soil differences between parts of Tasmania, and some oddities with north not always being warmer than south etc that many even engaged wine consumers won't appreciate, perhaps the "baby step" without resorting to legislative change, is to encourage the consistent use of subregional identifiers on labels. I suspect at the end of the day, that is what the GI discussion with Tasmania is really getting at.

 
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