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NMIT to produce Ararat Gold for Chinese market

12 Feb 2010

In a major boost for local industry, nine Victorian wineries, including the Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), will join forces to export a new premium-blend Ararat shiraz to China.

The Grampians-Pyrenees Wine Cooperative will export approximately $1 million worth of premium quality shiraz to Guangdong province this year, to meet growing demand for quality Australian wine in an increasingly affluent market.

The cooperative will use NMIT's 300-tonne winery at Aradale to produce five container loads of wine (about 40,000 litres) for export to Ararat's sister city of Taishan.

Associate Director of NMIT's Faculty of Earth Sciences, Wayne Pappin says NMIT has valuable experience in exporting commercial quantities of wine to China and other countries. “With our facilities at Aradale, we're providing smaller growers and wineries with the opportunity to pool their resources and take advantage of a major export opportunity,” he says. “This will give them more security than they've had in the past and in years to come we expect there will be more opportunities for NMIT students and graduates of our viticulture programs.”

The deal was finalised on Tuesday, February 9, thanks to the efforts of Ararat City Council, which has a longstanding relationship with China. Ararat Rural City Council's economic development manager Clyde Humphries says he expects the cooperative to expand operations to other parts of China in the future. “Ararat is the only Victorian town founded by Chinese and that carries a lot of kudos in China. We probably have about 10 to 15 government delegations through here in a year,” he says. “NMIT's Aradale winery was the key link because none of the smaller wineries had capacity to process that amount of wine,” he said.

Ararat Rural City, Northern Grampians and Pyrenees Shire councils organised the funding through Regional Development Victoria's Regional Inward Buyers Missions program, which is designed to leverage investment and attract interest in Victorian business. The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) has been appointed to oversee a $20,000 scoping study to set up the wine cluster.

The next steps for the cooperative will involve the selection of a winemaker to create the Ararat Gold blend, and a trade mission by the council to begin the education and tasting phase of the project.

What: Photo opportunity: Members of The Grampians-Pyrenees Wine Cooperative
Where: NMIT winery, Grano Street, Ararat
When: Tuesday, February 16 at 10.30am

The Grampians-Pyrenees cooperative involves nine wineries:
John Higgins (chairman, Eurabbie Estate, Avoca), Simon Clayfield (Winemaker, Clayfield Wines, Moyston), Kym Ludvigsen (Treasurer, The Ludvigsen Partnership, Great Western), Michael Unwin (Michael Unwin Wines, Beaufort), Graeme Bertuch (Mount Cole Wineworks, Warrak), Neil Billett (NSP Winery, Armstrong via Ararat), Paul Chandler (Chandler's Vineyard, Redbank), Garry Rice Concongella Vineyards, Concongella) and Drew Coulthard (NMIT, Ararat).

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Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on seven campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.