Review Search

Everyone needs something to aspire to, something to lie in bed at night and think about when things are not going their way. In my simplistic mind, which governs my simplistic life i figure there are only three things that i can focus on and do well, two of which are constant (Family and Work) and the other is more of a discretionary choice which for me is wine. When my work day has been frustrating and we enter our 10th consecutive sleep deprived day with our beautiful new baby it’s sometimes nice to focus on something that is aspirational and inspiring, something that you have the perception of being somewhat under your control.

My discretionary choice of wine has been powering on for over a decade and the aspirational and inspiring components have grown through doing. I was the only 20 year old that i knew that had a liquor licence after working out that there could be a market selling fine wine through eBay. I spent my time searching through wine auctions to pick up hidden treasures to expose to a more mainstream market. This was before the proliferation of online wine sales and was defunct before it started, but it was definitely a start. 

The next evolution came through reviewing wine which has allowed me to both inform my palate, express my opinion and introduce me to so many people that are truly passionate about the subject. I have reviewed close to 2,500 wines which has given me a perspective and voice, whether or not other’s agree with it is another point.  

The last aspect was learning, or more to the point leaning on others to begin making my own wine, which is what this article focuses on in light of potential changes to the Wine Equalisation Tax (WET). 

My inspiration started by producing something I could say that I crafted, something that i could own from start to finish; with our without faults. Initially starting with a few 100 kg’s of fruit it has now moved to leasing a winery and purchasing most of what they produce. I involve local growers, local winemakers and suppliers, i am not yet at a point of making money and hoping that my investment will create a return over time whilst continuing to support others who support me in the process.

Effort, risk and intent should be rewarded assuming the resultant outcome is of quality, this is how i think winemaking should be approached. It shouldn’t matter what size you are or the assets you own, if you follow the general rules you should get a chance to play by the same rules as everyone else in the market, with the product you create and the influence you can impart driving your success.  

It is my reading of the potential changes to the WET that the definition of a ‘producer of wine’ could materially impact the opportunity for people like myself to have any chance of making a go of small scale winemaking with a tax of 29% that is not recoverable at either $250k or $500k negating or being greater than most fledgling business revenue, let alone profit margin.

It’s not really about me, will my wine ever sit alongside Australia’s iconic producers ? Probably not, but raising the barrier of entry will stifle diversity of wine styles and approaches. I wonder if some of the most emergent and exciting producers such as Jamshed, Head and Story wines who historically haven’t had their own vineyards (this may have changed in recent years) will be able to experiment, grow and have as much of an impact if the reforms go the wrong way ? We see grapes from exceptional vineyards only ever treated one way, and miss out on potential vinous pleasure that comes from winemaker influence.

I understand and support wanting to restrict the number of people who can flood the market looking for a quick dollar, on occasions I have had people send me wine that is bulk crap that they played no part in with a kangaroo or something else on the back of it, in my mind does more to damage the industry in this country than promote it and should be restricted. Those artisan winemakers who are creating great wines but may not have the funds to establish their own winery in the most part support local growers in driving for the best quality grapes and expression of site, as opposed to playing hard ball on lowest cost per tonne. 

I am not an expert and i know decisions are yet to be made around potential reforms but i hope that whatever the decisions there is enough white space for the dreamers that have the drive, passion and conviction to have a go at something they love and one day see it as a success.