A Blow to Wine Research, While Influencers Face Hard Times

A lot happened in the world of wine this week, from trouble among the influencers, to Spain’s government making a financial commitment to the wine sector. Here are our top reads.

Reading time: 4m 15s

What happened in the world of wine this week? (Image: generated using Midjourney AI)
What happened in the world of wine this week? (Image: generated using Midjourney AI)

A major blow to global wine research

The Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) is reducing its headcount -— and therefore reducing its research capacity — because of a shortfall in funding.

“The Australian Wine Research Institute has this week commenced a consultation period with staff regarding a downsizing of our workforce,” Mark Krstic, managing director of the AWRI, told the Australian wine media. Staff who leave or retire are not being replaced.

In February, industry heavyweights Brian Croser and Louisa Rose sent an open letter to WBM, Australia’s wine business magazine, in which they said:

“When our overseas colleagues and friends in the wine business become aware of the diminution of the AWRI they will be amazed that the Australian wine community could so damage one of its greatest competitive advantages.”

The letter outlines the politics behind the cuts, which has seen AWRI funding fall below the A$8 million ($5.3m) it needs to operate at its current standard.

Founded in 1955, AWRI is one of the world’s major wine research institutions. It has done groundbreaking work in unravelling smoke taint, identifying wine flavour compounds and understanding the impact of climate change. It disseminates its findings widely.

Influencers facing hard times


It wasn’t that long ago that wine influencers were seen as the way to connect with the coveted younger demographic. Those days may well be over.

Tricia Meyer, an affiliate marketer, reveals that US consumers are filing lawsuits against influencers who “buy products based upon the endorsements of influencers or affiliate marketers who do not properly disclose that they are being compensated in some way”.

She says that an alcohol brand, Blue Ice Vodka, is already facing problems from viewers who claim that “the product was not as reviewed by the influencers and that they would not have bought them if they had known the influencers were being paid”.

Not only that, but the Wall Street Journal reports that there’s a downturn happening in the influencer industry, as platforms like YouTube reduce payouts to creators, and brands become more demanding.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the past few years have seen high levels of creator burnout, as algorithms push them to create more and more content.

But one influencer trend is thriving — de-influencing. It’s a backlash against consumer culture, where influencers encourage their followers to buy less.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in wine.

Insights Wine

As the algorithms change, keeping up with social media is becoming more and more stressful. Felicity Carter asks the experts how to navigate the changes.

Reading time: 7m 30s

Spain’s government shores up its wine sector

The Spanish government has announced that it will grant €130m to help restructure and reconvert vineyards. On Monday Luis Planas, the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food said it was necessary to increase the competitiveness of the wine sector, confront climate change, and address changes in consumption.

The announcement coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Spanish Wine Interprofessional body (OIVE). The Minister wants more promotion of Spanish wine in export markets, along with promotional activities through the Foods of Spain campaign.

Climate change heats up market for English vineyards

The Financial Times reports that Ed Mansel Lewis, head of viticulture for Knight Frank, one of England’s leading vineyard agents, is learning French in order to handle a surge of inquiries from international wine producers looking for vineyards.

The share price of Chapel Down, one of the oldest established and biggest estates, rose by 10% this week on news that it might be for sale, “the latest sign that England’s wine industry is transitioning from its humble roots to a maturing sector,” according to the article by Madeleine Speed.

French house Taittinger bought land in Kent in 2015. Vranken-Pommery Monopole entered the market via a partnership with Hattingley in Hampshire, and the report says it's now building its own winery in Winchester.  The German sparkling wine giant Henkell Freixenet bought Bolney Wine Estate in 2022, while California’s Jackson Family Wines has invested in Essex land.

Yet English wine sales are not exactly soaring, “leading to concerns about overproduction. In 2022, the sector sold 8mn bottles, with the top 25 producers accounting for 83% of sales”.

The reason for the interest is an ominous one, according to Speed:

“The rapidly warming climate has made England’s southern counties fertile territory for winemaking — and hunting ground for overseas producers looking to de-risk as extreme weather and disease batter their vineyards further south.

In other words, the big producers are hedging their bets against climate change.

Europe’s drinking patterns show more wine means less alcohol

A new report has shed light on drinking patterns in Europe, plus Iceland, Norway and Ukraine. The researchers, drawing on data from the World Health Organisation’s monitoring system on alcohol exposure, set out to discover if there had been any change in Europe’s drinking patterns over the last 10 years or so.

For decades, researchers divided countries into one of two drinking cultures: ‘wet’ cultures tend to consume wine daily with meals, while ‘dry’ cultures tend to feature sporadic, heavy drinking.

  • The Mediterranean drinking pattern has wine as the main beverage. Daily meals are accompanied by wine and drunkenness is avoided.
  • Central and Western Europeans choose beer as their main beverage, plus a mix of alcohol with and without meals. This group has a “higher intoxication level” compared to their Mediterranean counterparts.
  • The Nordic and Eastern European countries mostly drink on weekends and festive occasions, where people get drunk. “It has been linked to higher rates of violence and injury, as well as undiagnosed and untreated alcohol use disorders.”


In 2019, six distinct drinking patterns were revealed:

Wine-drinking countries — France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain — drank the most wine, but the least beer and spirits, and the lowest amount of alcohol overall.

Central-Western Europe drank more beer and less spirits — but tourists to these countries drink quite a lot: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Spain.

Eastern Europeans drank more beer and more spirits, and have more heavy drinkers: Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

People in the Baltics have the lowest wine and highest spirits consumption: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Ukraine, Bulgaria and Cyprus consume high levels of spirits, while paradoxically having a high number of lifetime abstainers and the lowest number of heavy episodic drinkers.

Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Malta, on the other hand, have plenty of drinkers in general and heavy drinkers in particular.

The study looked at 2000, 2010, 2015 and 2019, and concluded that drinking patterns have remained stable over time.

Whether WHO warnings against the danger of drinking any alcohol at all will change them remains to be seen.

Opinion Wine

Robert Joseph highlights — and questions — the diversity of styles on offer.

Reading time: 1m 30s



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