The hardest thing

It’s a funny, contradictory and ever-confusing thing, life.

And this year or so has, for many, condensed that sense.

Politics is, well, problematic at best.

The economy needs a brighter mind than that currently at its helm. And one with compassion and reason in equal values.

Religion needs a temperate hand, and is unlikely to get one.

Feminism is screaming out loud in triumph and fear simultaneously.

Consumerism rules our education and lives, way more than it probably should.
Peter Greste marked a year in jail in Egypt because that country’s leader and courts pay heed to a vocal political voice. No justice. No care. Just vociferous outrage.

The voice of Jeremy Pringle is no longer with us, and for that, I can only grieve. And celebrate the beauty of the words we were privileged to read. I wish he were here. But also wish he has peace.

Corrina from Oliver’s called us out. To work hard and to be better. To stop wailing and to work for change. To put our collective noses to the grindstone. And was derided by some but for my money, I believe the message has merit. It certainly spurred me, personally and professionally.

The WFA issue. Weird. Evasive. Dismissive to some extent of the one qualified voice at the centre of the research. Brilliant work, mind you. We should all take note. As winemakers and growers we are bound to conserve our land. Let us be better at that. ALL of us.

Wine Day Out – fascinating. Wish I could have made it this year. Particularly that discussing about ethics and the actual role of the reviewer. I kinda wonder if that role is more for us as producers, and in order to nudge a buyer to actually, you know, buy. I will be there next year. And thanks to Dan Sims for that and the other really FUN wine stuff.

I still believe that we are, as a wine industry, mostly talking to ourselves. And that this needs to change. How to do this is a work in progress.

Communicate – understand the power of your voice and your online and real life presence. People want their luxury spend to have meaning. Your story, your voice is that meaning. Look at those doing it well. Who? Ha! Easy. They are heavily represented in all media – professional and vocal both.

The industry still has a world of issues. The mainstream media still attack restaurants and retail for the markups that keep them in business. The industry bickers more than a roomful of teenage girls. Export? Still screwed. And will take time and a strong, singularly Australian voice to recover. We can have one voice and multiple styles and pricepoints – NOT a dichotomy. Many wineries are still running without a firm accounting/financial presence. Grow up – you need a professional. Distribution domestically is horrendously fractured and I am not sure it can recover. But what is the alternative?

And yet. Brilliance. Restaurants catering for the extraordinary and NEVER mediocrity. Bars – being awesome. Casual venues taking the world of pride in their offerings and refusing to relax on laurels. Wineries pushing the boundaries again and again. Varieties – countless and exciting. Anticipating the advance of climate change and adapting. And making our wines better. Brighter .

I have so much optimism. And yet I think we need some central guidance. A central wine body which is not bound by government or ministries, but merely exists to answer and to guide where needed. A body in which the industry can have some faith, without bickering or infighting. Not to answer everything but to be a central point of query and information, voice and debate.

We are a spectacular world, the Australian wine industry.

So, a thanks. To the support I have received this year as I quit my job and went out on my own. To the people simply wishing me well. To the customers and clients having faith.

A farewell, to Jeremy Pringle: you are missed, and this Christmas season, my thoughts are with your family and those wine industry friends who mourn you yet. Your voice is cherished, and missed. We are better that you shared your words and mind with us.

Vintage 2015 looms. Let it be our best – be it cheap or expensive, voluminous or or minimal. Let we simply, madly, make the wines which express our voice best and then take that to the world. Natural; orange/amber, commercial, left-field or not my usual suspects.

We are here, waiting to engage with you, as people, as wine, as just a little something.

Hello 2015.