The 17th Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference will be held in Adelaide this year. Dan Johnson, chair of the AWITC, tells you what is on the agenda. This article first appeared in WBM – Australia’s Wine Business Magazine. To subscribe click here.
The Australian wine industry has been on a positive trajectory in recent times. Winegrape prices have increased and exports have grown strongly, leading to optimistic sentiments being felt throughout the value chain.
Wine buyers and consumers across the world are getting excited about what Australia’s wines have to offer.
Although the economic benefits haven’t yet reached everyone in the sector, a period of growth like this provides an important opportunity to take stock and make the decisions that will help maintain sustainability and prosperity in the long term.
We need to remember that our industry is not immune from global movements in society, agriculture and technology, which bring with them both threats and opportunities. Major events, such as the Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference, deliver opportunities to come together to discuss these kinds of issues.
Planning for the 17th AWITC, which will be held in Adelaide in July 2019, is well underway. A new partnership has been signed with Wine Industry Suppliers Australia and Fair Events to deliver the trade exhibition under the WineTech banner. This complements the previous partnerships with the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia Outlook Conference and McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Award dinner, which all come together to make the AWITC a ‘must-attend’ event for the grape and wine community. The event aims to attract more than 2,000 attendees across the conference and trade show – representing all aspects of our industry.
Next year’s conference will explore some new themes that are highly relevant to global trends. Augmenting the usual focus on supply, demand and marketing, for the first time one of the Outlook sessions will consider the importance of diversity to our continuing success. In the wake of the #Metoo movement, the successful campaign for marriage equality and more visible advocacy for people with disabilities, issues of diversity in our workplaces, on our boards and in our customer base cannot be ignored.
In terms of technological disruption, we’ve all seen the rise of ride-sharing apps such as Uber and their rapid and significant impact on the traditional taxi industry. Similar scenes are being played out across the telecommunications, entertainment and accommodation sectors at an increasingly rapid pace. How will technology combined with new thinking affect traditional agriculture? Conference sessions on AgTech, winemaking technology and the future of industry, technology and wine will consider this question from a range of perspectives.
Other conference themes will include building better vineyards and doing business in a changing climate – both fundamental elements underpinning our future prosperity. Strong, healthy vineyards that are protected from biosecurity threats and able to adapt and thrive as the climate changes are at the heart of everything we do. Climate change is not just a vineyard issue though – there are impacts in the winery and at the business level, all of which will be explored. The organising team also hasn’t forgotten the end-product we make and the people who consume it. The sensory experience of consuming wine is something that is complex and personal, but cutting edge science is shedding more light on it every day, making it a fascinating area to delve into.
All these topics are sure to spark discussion, and perhaps debate, among AWITC attendees – but overall our industry will be stronger, and better prepared for a changing future, by having come together to consider them.
The 17th Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference and WineTech Trade Exhibition will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 21 to 24 July. The 17th AWITC incorporates WFA’s Outlook Conference and the McWilliam’s Maurice O’Shea Award Dinner. Registrations will open in February 2019. www.awitc.com.au