Great Wine Capital experts descend upon the Riverland

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By Christine Webster

It’s only two years since Adelaide was unanimously voted into the prestigious Great Wine Capitals Global Network, which was established in 1999, but already it’s proving its worth.

Being part of the group enables Adelaide and South Australia’s wine regions to work together with nine other international cities with globally renowned wine regions.

A visit to SA recently by three of the network’s wine business experts from the Napa Valley in California, Porto in Portugal and Bordeaux in France highlights the benefits of being part of this collaboration.

Visit Napa Valley president, Clay Gregory, Dean of the Wine and Spirit’s Academy at KEDGE Business School in Bordeaux, Jacques-Oliver Pesme and the Monverde Wine Experience Hotel’s general manager, Miguel Ribeiro from Porto spent a week in SA.

They toured McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek,  Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley. Clare Valley and the Riverland, meeting with local wine, tourism and hospitality industry representatives.

The wine experts’ key message was for SA’s wine sector to work closely with tourism and hospitality operators to develop experiences for international visitors.

They say the promotion of wine should be combined with a whole of region experience, featuring fresh local cuisine, cultural experiences and an opportunity to enjoy natural surroundings such as the River Murray.

The Riverland was the final region on the wine business experts’ itinerary and the general manager of the Monverde Wine Experience Hotel in Porto Miguel Ribeiro was impressed.

“This landscape, this countryside is so beautiful, you have so much to offer,” he told a workshop at the Banrock Station Wine and Wetland Centre at Kingston-on-Murray.

From left, executive director Agriculture, Food and Wine (PIRSA) Jo Collins, Tersilla and Clay Gregory from the Napa Valley, Jacques-Olivier Pesme from Bordeaux, Riverland Wine’s Jo Battersby, Miguel Ribeiro from Portugal and Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetsone experience the beauty of the River Murray near Waikerie.

The delegates also travelled by boat along the River Murray to Caudo Vineyard at Cadell, near Waikerie.

Riverland Wine operations manager Jo Battersby says the visitors found the Riverland breathtaking.

“It was a beautiful day to take them out on the water, the water was crystal clear and calm, the sun was shining in the middle of winter,” she says.

Jo says Adelaide’s membership of the Great Wine Capitals Network provides the Riverland with a chance to be presented to an international audience, as an emerging wine tourism destination.

Executive director of Agriculture, Food and Wine for PIRSA, Jo Collins, says Adelaide is cementing its reputation overseas by being part of the network.

“Wine is the hero here, we make fantastic wine, we produce 80% of Australia’s premium wine, we have 18 fantastic wine regions,” she says.

The state is already making its mark with Penfolds’ chief winemaker Peter Gago being appointed an inaugural Great Wine Capitals Global Network ambassador to promote the Adelaide wine capital.

Penfolds’ chief winemaker and inaugural Great Wine Capitals Global Network ambassador for Adelaide, Peter Gago.

Whistling Kite Wines near Loxton in the Riverland was also recently awarded a Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism award for its sustainable wine practices.

Adam Barich runs the winery with his parents, Pam and Tony.

“The win has highlighted to a massive audience the level of wine experiences in the Riverland available to visitors and locals,” he says.

Primary Industries and Regional Development Minister Tim Whetstone says he is excited about the international recognition SA’s wine industry is receiving.

“We have countries that are now enjoying the great products we have, the historical brands and varieties, sitting along side the new varieties and new brands that are so exciting,” he says.

The Great Wine Capitals Global Network’s AGM will be held in Adelaide in November and about 100 delegates are expected to attend.

Owner of Whistling Kite Wines near Loxton, Tony Barich, inspects wine grapes with Maddie.

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