After suffering through drought, bushfires, smoke, COVID-19, floods and China export tariff rows, Hunter wineries can breathe a sigh of relief this week with the state government offering an olive branch of sorts.
In a public show of support an historic agreement was signed on Thursday 15 April in the Hunter Valley, the birthplace of the Australian wine industry.
It is expected to symbolise solidarity between the government and an industry that employs 53,000 people across regional NSW.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by NSW Wine Industry Association (NSWWIA) president Mark Bourne, and NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Industry and Trade John Barilaro.
“This is very welcome news in what has been a challenging few years for the NSW wine industry,” Mr Bourne said.
“Our gratitude and heart-felt thanks goes out to the Deputy Premier and his team involved in putting this significant platform of support together, to enable the recovery and continued growth of the NSW wine industry and the regional communities we live and work in.”
“The NSW Wine Industry is a diverse industry”, Mr Bourne added, “[it] covers everything from the planting and growing of wine grapes, winemaking, wholesaling, exporting, retailing and also plays a leading role in regional tourism across NSW.
“This MoU will provide a solid framework for the recovery and continued growth of the wine industry in NSW.”
Mr Barilaro said the wine industry played a vital role in tourism.
“Our wine industry is invaluable to NSW, contributing $1.6 billion each year to the NSW economy and playing a major role in our $38 billion tourism sector, attracting countless tourists and visitors to wine regions such as the Hunter Valley,” he added.
“The wine industry is also a significant employer here in NSW so it is important that we protect valuable jobs now, while they are needed most.
“The NSW Government knows that our state produces some of the finest wine in the world.
“This agreement will see industry and government working closely together to identify initiatives to help grow the success of our products and our industry.
“We know drought, bushfires and floods have hurt the viticulture industry which is why the NSW Government is committed to supporting the sector so we can share our wine with the world and continue to enjoy it at home.”
This is the second MoU to be signed between the wine industry and the government, the first in 2017.
Under this agreement, the government will undertake to focus on the areas of trade, export markets development, regional wine tourism, and research, development, extension and biosecurity.
The MoU represents an additional investment by the NSW Government of $600,000 per year for the next two, with a total ongoing investment in the NSW Wine Industry by the NSW Government of more than $1.5m per year.
The commitments also include measures such as ongoing support from NSW DPI in the form of three dedicated development officers for the Viticulture Industry and a Skills Development Program.
It includes ongoing work with Destination NSW on areas such as the Food and Wine Tourism Action Strategy Plan 2018-2022 and the Export and Regional Wine Support Program, too.
The MoU will be effective immediately and will last for two years, until the state election in March 2023.