Winemakers branching out

By Country News

The recent popularity of prosecco and pinot grigio has opened the eyes of many wine lovers to smaller international varieties, two Goulburn Valley winemakers believe.

An open-mindedness from consumers made it easier for growers to trial different varieties, they said.

‘‘Prosecco seems to be the flavour of the month,’’ Terry Monichino, from Monichino Wines in Katunga, said.

He has seen huge plantings of prosecco in recent years and his winery is planting prosecco now.

Mr Monichino said pinot grigio still had a big following and shiraz had proven to be an ever-popular seller.

‘‘It’s just the ever-reliable variety in the industry,’’ he said.

Mr Monichino said the winery had in recent years slimmed down its range in line with popular varieties.

‘‘We’ve just pulled out some older varieties ... being brown muscat, we used to make some sweet wine.

‘‘So we’ve planted prosecco, pinot grigio.’’

He put the shifts in popularity towards the two varieties down to fads in the wine industry.

‘‘It’s just really taken off,’’ he said.

‘‘The Australian public love it.’’

Mr Monichino said he had restructured the business somewhat in recent years to focus on wines he most enjoyed making and those that were most popular.

‘‘We specialise in wines I enjoy making and ones that are worth selling.

‘‘So I’ve got a small block of orange muscat and that’s another variety that’s hard to sell.

‘‘So next winter, that’ll get removed ... and then possibly fiano, vermentino and lambrusco maestri (will be planted).’’

Goulburn Valley Winemakers Association president and Murchison winemaker Guido Vazzoler believed the emergence of the lesser-known international varieties had been slow to take off.

But said in the past five years they had hit their straps.

‘‘The thing we’ve probably seen in the last five years is a lot are moving on from sauvignon blanc and moscato.

‘‘They’re looking for things with a bit more body and a bit more flavour and probably more interest.

‘‘And they are going for things like prosecco.’’

Mr Vazzoler said the popularity of prosecco was partly in the cost of production being reasonable, paired with prosecco not having the ‘‘air of exclusivity’’ that champagne might.

‘‘It’s very much an everyday drink,’’ he said.

‘‘But we’re also seeing lesser-known Italian varietals.

‘‘We’ve got a garganega ... It’s from the foothills of north Italy.

‘‘We’ve got some of it planted in our vineyard ... It’s our most popular white at the moment.’’

By and large, Mr Vazzoler said wine consumers were becoming more broad-minded.

‘‘A lot more people have travelled these days ... they’re happy to experience different things.

‘‘They’re moving on from something sweet and simple, to something more food-oriented.

‘‘They’re interested in the background of the wine, rather than just ‘give me something to drink’.’’

And this open-mindedness makes it easier to roll the dice on making different varieties.

‘‘As nice as it is to produce same old every year, if we know there’s a market there to give it a go, it gives us more confidence,’’ Mr Vazzoler said.

—Thomas Moir