Investment boost for Riverland wine region

South Australia’s Riverland region will benefit from a $40 million investment by one of Australia’s largest wine companies.

Accolade Wines will spend between $35 million and $40 million setting up a new glass bottling plant and warehouse facilities at its existing winery in Berri.

A spokesperson for Accolade said the company would withdraw over the next three years from a co-bottling arrangement it had with Penfolds owner Treasury Wine Estates, in South Australia.

The company plans to start construction on the new facility in late 2016 or early 2017, with the building phase expected to take about 18 months to complete.

It is anticipated 40 people will be employed once the plant is operating.

Accolade Wines is one of Australia’s largest wine companies, and owns brands including Hardys, Grant Burge and Banrock Station.

With a large portion of the industry seeing a downturn in recent years, the news has been welcomed by the region’s state MP.

Member for Chaffey Tim Whetstone said the benefits of the investment, particularly the potential employment opportunities, would be widespread throughout the region.

“The 40 jobs is a really good shot in the arm for the region,” he said.

“It is also Accolade’s commitment to the industry, and it is also acknowledging the region’s commitment to the wine industry.”

Investment a good sign for industry

Australian Vignerons chief executive Andrew Weeks said the investment was hopefully a sign of more positive times in the local industry.

“Having the confidence to invest $35 million to $40 million in a regional area of building a new bottling plant, that fits in well with some of the more confident and more optimistic signs that we have seen in recent times,” Mr Weeks said.

Acknowledging the benefits of the investment for the region, Mr Weeks said it was important for growers to also reap the rewards.

“What we really need is the growers to have confidence to reinvest in their businesses as well,” he said.

“It is not just about seeing improvement in wine company operations, and investment in regions is all good, but we need to have growers getting a reward for their results as well.”

Mr Whetstone agreed, saying he hoped local wine grape growers would also be beneficiaries.

“I would expect now that they would give some better consideration to better returns for our growers,” Mr Whetstone said.

“Any level of confidence in the wine industry is good”.

 

ABC Rural – Tom Nancarrow

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