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Tuesday, 04 March 2014 12:15

Q & A with Simon Napthine - Victorian Food and Wine Tourism Council Member

This month we asked Simon Napthine for his views on the wine industry and goals during his time on the Council. Here is what he had to say.

What do you see as the biggest issues currently facing the wine industry?
By far the biggest issues facing the industry are the macro-economic ones - that is the world is still in oversupply of wine, and our dollar is still uncomfortably high for the overseas markets.

On a domestic level it is a concern that we are seeing tourism data showing regional tourism is stagnating, and in some areas dropping.

What opportunities do you see for the industry?
The biggest opportunities are to be found in the solutions many individual wineries are using to cope with the problems of over-supply, and narrowing 'big retail' opportunities. They are doing it by making great wines with fantastic stories, then using their skills and adroitness to come up with their own channels to market and to build their brand. Be it through niche export markets, getting close to sommeliers, canny online and social media campaigns, and increased mail order and direct retail.

I see so many individual success stories at the moment in Victoria – our challenge is to work out how to collectively harness that drive, to build these regional brands.

During your time on the council is there anything specific which you would like to achieve?
The VFWTC is an advisory body for the Minister and for Tourism Victoria. Our remit is to provide input on behalf of the food and wine tourism industry on matters related to strategic advice for the sector, and on related marketing and development programs. My main aim is to ensure that the voice of the Victorian wine regions is heard.

As our focus is tourism, my main goal would be to provide perspective and advice on helping Tourism Victoria develop a really strong intrastate marketing campaign, getting Melbournians out into the regions and beyond the '90 minute drive barrier', visiting cellar doors and buying wine!

What is your favourite wine region?
We have such a diverse regional offering in such a short distance from one another. We can do the A to Z of wine styles, and do them all well. From Rutherglen to the King Valley, to the Grampians to Melbourne's dress circle, I'd happily drink the wines from all of them. That is our strength as a state but also a challenge in terms of communication and what we stand for.