WINE Victoria, the peak body representing the interests of the Victorian wine industry, will work closely with the state Government to roll out a $1 million investment aimed at boosting Victorian wine tourism and exports.
The Andrews Labor Government announced the $1 million plan to boost cellar door visits, create jobs and promote regional tourism, to be secured in the 2015-16 Victorian Budget.
The $1 million will fund the development of the Labor Government's Victorian Wine Tourism Strategy.
Visiting Mount Langi Ghiran Winery, Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, said the wine industry was important to local communities in wine producing regions across Victoria, as well as the broader tourism industry.
"Our first budget gives much more than a drop to Victoria's wine industry, it will steer it towards an even better future," Ms Pulford said.
"The wine industry provides growth to local communities and the tourism industry, that's why we're supporting it to boost jobs, tourism and exports."
"By working with the industry, we'll showcase our first-class wines and winemakers both locally and on the world stage.
Victoria's $1.5 billion wine industry has 21 wine regions with more than 800 wineries and employs more than 11,500 people, including 2,600 people directly employed in grape growing and winemaking.
The Strategy will drive the development of the industry, focusing on smaller and growing businesses and emerging as well as established wine regions, growing regional tourism and creating jobs.
The Labor Government will also establish a Wine Industry Ministerial Advisory Group.
The group will bring together industry knowledge and advise on research, development and extension, biosecurity, regional investment, skills and workforce, infrastructure, regulation and trade matters.
These efforts will go hand in hand with Victoria's first large-scale wine industry trade mission in late May, which will bring more than 100 key international wine buyers, investors and influential industry figures to our state.
The mission will display the quality of Victorian wine and include tours of Victoria's premier wine regions, one-on-one meetings, and a major wine showcase, opening up new overseas markets.
Wine Victoria chair, Damien Sheehan welcomed Ms Pulford for her announcement at Mount Langi Ghiran Winery, where he is the general manager.
"Wine Victoria welcomes the Victorian Government's support of the wine industry at a time when many of the industry are doing it tough," Mr Sheehan said.
"The investment announced today gives us the ability to partner with the government on key issues that can reverse our profitability issues.
"As the Australian dollar drops and the strength of Victoria's tourism grows, now is the time to increase the understanding of our fantastic wine offering by increasing cellar door visitation and growing exports in key markets."
The wine industry is an important exporting partner for Victoria and known to be one of the state's most valuable food export categories, worth $197 million per year and growing.
"We're looking forward to the government's Meet the Wine Maker inbound trade mission in late May, as these events are a big step towards building the profile of Victoria's premium wines and getting our products in front of important international wine buyers," Mr Sheehan said.
Mr Sheehan said the commitments are a welcome answer to what the association has been recommending to both parties since before the state election last year.
"As the Victorian wine industry's peak advocacy body, we have been encouraging the Government to partner with industry on these sorts of activities, so this support is significant for Victorian wine producers," he said.
"With tough barriers like wine oversupply and fierce international competition, we need all the support we can get to help make the Victorian wine industry thriving again."