AUSTRALIA: New Winemakers Federation head upsets grape growers

By | 28 June 2007

The chairman of McGuigan Simeon Wines has been controversially named as head of the Winemakers Federation of Australia, according to local reports.

David Clarke, who has been executive chairman of Macquarie bank for the last 22 years, has been lined up to replace the current president, Paul Chambers, Australian Broadcast News reported today (28 June).

The federation's chief executive, Stephen Strachan, told ABC: "We've selected David because of his very obvious capabilities, but also because of his passion for the Australian wine industry and he's chair of McGuigan Simeon, he also owns a winery and he also owns a number of vineyards, so his interest in the wine industry is very clear and he's the sort of person we want leading our organisation."

However, The South Australian Riverland Winegrape Growers Association has said it is disappointed at Clarke's appointment, due to McGuigan Simeon offering what other growers have reportedly described as unfair prices.

Association chief executive Chris Byrne said: "We're all reasonably aware of the very significant difficulties that Riverland growers have experienced with McGuigan Simeon Wines during the past four or five vintages, it's a very big dose of salt for Riverland growers to have to rub into some very raw and some very open wounds," he said.

In 2005, McGuigan Simeon suspended its contracts with growers in a move to reduce costs due to excess supply in Australia's wine industry. In February last year, the company decided to keep the suspensions in place, a move that left disgruntled growers mulling legal action.

Sectors: Wine

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AUSTRALIA: New Winemakers Federation head upsets grape growers

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