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Australian Wine: What Happens When The River Runs Dry?

Stories are beginning to filter through to the wine blokes on the state of South Australia’s iconic Langehorne Creek. Now, those of you living on the big island of mainland Australia will know that the Murray River is in all sorts of strife, and if we zoom on a bit further to the state of South Australia you may understand the fate of the Lakes at the end of this once mighty river system. But just what this will mean for the wine industry is only just becoming clear.

After a hot growing year in 2007, and an unprecedented heat wave in the midst of vintage 2008, growers supplying fruit to the big end of town are facing trying to grow grapes for 2009 with no water available from the vanishing river system and bore water, while available is too saline for irrigation. This has lead to some of the more determined types investing in private desalination plants and a resultant cost of $2000 / megalitre for irrigation, while others have no recourse on nature except to hope for the best. The ripple effect from this situation will be felt through the whole community with associated businesses suffering directly from loss of trade as well as the broader effects of less cash being spent in the local community.

After a bullish stance 12 months ago, Fosters look to have taken a chainsaw to contract for fruit from the region. While Orlando are making polite noises on the sidelines that are being interpreted by those on the ground as laying the foundation for a politicians exit from Langhorne Creek.

Redundancies of non core staff of some wine company’s in the region have begun, as cashflows are directed at securing serviceable water supplies and controlling costs.

Another hot dry vintage may spell the end to an iconic wine growing region in Australia.

About Jono Farrington

Jono Farrington
Jono Farrington holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Oenology) from the University of Adelaide (formely the Roseworthy Agricultural College). He also holds a Post Graduate Degree in Business Management from Monash University. He worked in the wine industry for nearly a decade, completing vintages in Australia and Bordeaux, before setting up an equestrian training centre.

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