Each year, there is a media catchword. Unprecedented times (remember them?). Teal. Sustainability. The latter  has expanded beyond Murdoch’s headlines to find itself the new category of WISA’s (Wine Industry Suppliers Association) Industry Awards, a glamourous affair comprising over 400 wine industry stakeholders at Adelaide Oval. It appears the wine industry is not just red and white… it is green.

Over the years I have attended my fair share of wine show lunches – each an incidental celebration of Aristotle’s famed “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. However, WISA offers a humbling reminder of the importance of these forementioned ‘parts’. A perfect summary by WISA Chair, Jason Amos, the awards acknowledges “businesses rather than individuals or wines or vines”.

Think of it like hair and makeup, the gaffer or the camera crew. So often we forget that it is what goes on behind the scenes that makes for the perfect performance. Grape growing, power supply, water filtration, winery and barrel storage – WISA acknowledges these businesses on stage rather than in the rolling credits.

400 seats, and not one pedestal in sight – the whole-of-sector event was a celebration of “how we, as a collective industry, support each other in our search for ways of doing things better.” Former WISA Executive Officer Shirley Fraser said. And doing things “better” is a bold understatement. Modesty certainly the theme of the evening.  

Take for example Seguin Moreau, winner for ‘Winemaking and Oenology’ who “stood out with their impact within Australia but also its reach for international markers too”. Whilst Smoke Taint Contingency Exception Oenochips, to the average ear, sounds like a 71-point SCRABBLE score. And before you ask, yes, my commitment to the joke had me calculate the score. This unique idea mitigates an issue that has been unsolvable until now. With climate change and projections that severe fire weather will increase, Seguin Moreau’s innovation has never been more imperative. 2019 Adelaide Hills. 2020 California. 2021 Margaret River. 2022 Bordeaux.

Adrian Fiocchini, Seguin Moreau’s Marketing and Sales manager explained to me how smoke taint attaches itself to the surface of the grape skin. Invisible. Odourless. Only when the fruit is crushed does this silent assassin attack – binding to the grapes’ sugars to carry out multiple attacks during fermentation, maturation, and storage.

The way these exception chips work, is not to remove smoke taint, but mask it by accentuating the fruit sensory lift and freshness. As the damage of smoke taint is not known until after fermentation, the winemaker takes a gamble. “Take my tears and that’s not nearly all” – there is no song more pertinent than Gloria Jones’ “Tainted Love”.

Moving onto a lighter topic…. quite literally, Orora Glass – winner of the award for ‘Packaging and Design’ for their light weight Sparkling Bottle Project. This partnership between Vinpac International and Orora, has created the first Australian-made lightweight sparkling bottle. One hundred grams lighter, without compromising diameter, height and GV rating – thus allowing customers to keep the same cartons, labels and closures. It’s the human equivalent of dropping three dress sizes without needing to buy a new wardrobe.

Praised for its sustainability, the judges acknowledged the reduced “impact on the environment and lower carbon footprint”. Weighing 580g, Endeavour Group’s product arm Pinnacle Drinks estimates the new bottle will remove 320 tonnes of packaging from its supply chain. It appears Orora discovered how to have your cake and eat it too… and still manage to weigh 15% less.

Is it a coincidence that the WISA acronym is homophonous to ‘wiser’? That is, “to have or show greater experience, knowledge and judgement”. From engineering & equipment to wine tourism & marketing, the seven award categories are proof of the wisdom our suppliers impart to the wine industry.

Written by 2022 WCA Wine Media Cadet, Tijana Laganin