All-year target for wineries

 Member for Indi Cathy McGowan met with Rutherglen winemakers, including Lake Moodemere owners Michael and Belinda Chambers and Winemakers of Rutherglen chairman Damien Cofield. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

Member for Indi Cathy McGowan met with Rutherglen winemakers, including Lake Moodemere owners Michael and Belinda Chambers and Winemakers of Rutherglen chairman Damien Cofield. Picture: MATTHEW SMITHWICK

HOW can wineries win business and customers all year round?

It’s quiet at Lake Moodemere Vineyards, particularly in these cold winter months.

It seems strange to comprehend as an outsider, given Rutherglen’s immense popularity due to events like Winery Walkabout.

But it’s a challenge all Rutherglen’s wineries face: how to attract business the rest of the year?

Lake Moodemere’s owner-operators Belinda and Michael Chambers say they’re constantly trying to come up with creative new ways to attract patrons.

Focusing on regional tourism was one of the key items on their agenda.

“One of the major things we struggle with as a boutique business is human resources, so assistance from regional bodies is very important to us,” Mrs Chambers said.

She is on the boards of Winemakers of Rutherglen and the Rutherglen Wine Experience.

The Lake Moodemere Vineyards were yesterday the setting for a lunch with Indi MP Cathy McGowan, where about a dozen winemakers told her of their worries for the industry’s future.

Winemakers of Rutherglen chairman Damien Cofield said regional tourism topped the list, as it was becoming harder to win city visitors.

“Beyond the big events, tourism numbers are struggling throughout rural regions,” he said.

“It’s getting harder to get people to travel beyond an hour’s radius from the capital cities.”

Other issues raised were the wine equalisation tax, which Mr Cofield said allowed New Zealand exporters to claim back money from the Australian government, and cross-border anomalies in Responsible Service of Alcohol accreditation.

As RSAs are provided on a state basis, cellar door and event staff at wineries need certification from each state they might find themselves working in, causing extra costs.

“Others don’t realise it’s such a hassle,” he said.

Ms McGowan said she would raise the RSA issue with state and federal bodies.

Keen to help continue promoting the region, she has invited the Argentinian and Irish ambassadors to come and discover Indi’s trade, export and tourism options soon.

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