Every year I take a group of Australian and New Zealand winemakers on a tour of Italian vineyards. It’s difficult to say no to two weeks of sampling wine and Mediterranean cooking, but the trip is an opportunity to share knowledge and ideas with some of the world’s leading wine producers.
Italy has consistently been an international leader in wine production, both in volume and flavour. What I admire most about their many centuries’ of winemaking experience is their willingness to share techniques and processes. They welcome fellow winemakers into their vineyards to learn exactly what they are doing, sharing challenges and successes. It has led to a nation of winemakers who are collectively becoming more competitive, instead of working in isolation through fear of provincial competition.
We visited a handful of wineries using different and interesting technology to see what would be useful back in Australasia. The tour included a stop in Treviso, the home of Prosecco, to a winery using high solid cross flow, a Soave winery using a clarification process called floatation and a winery in Barolo where they are running cross flow filtration.
The wine flowed and so did the conversation. Here I was standing with a group of Italian, New Zealand, Australian and American winemakers (the latter joined us for part of the tour), discussing different technologies and how they could be implemented in their wineries.
We also met up with some South African brewers and spoke openly about the crossover between brewing and winemaking in our respective countries. But of course, the conversation turned to rugby and a bit of stick was given to us Aussies.
The important take away was the collective sharing of ideas and processes which was mutually beneficial to each winemaker involved in the conversation. It was a refreshing change to the industry here in Australia where winemakers often work in silos.
I strongly believe there is more to be gained from knowledge sharing among our peers here and overseas.