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Grapes rejected by Berri winery
South Australian wineries refuse to accept Riverland wine grapes, claiming that they haven't got the required level of sugar (baume) as a result of the recent heavy rains. Last week's rain of 30ml, made things worse as most of the local growers were already struggling with rot related diseases.
Speaking to the Greek Tribune, local winegrape grower, Jack Papageorgiou of Renmark, said that some winemakers are co-operating with the growers and agreed to accept grapes even though the sugar is half baume less that the required level. In contrast, some of the bigger wineries are playing it tough and refuse to acknowledge the difficult position of the struggling growers.
"What we are asking for, is a little understanding and compromise. If the sugar level is close to the mark and the quality is there, let's get the fruit off the vines and into the crusher. They won't last much longer and growers have already overspent on anti-rot chemicals", Mr Papageorgiou said.
Riverland Winegrape Growers Association CEO, Chris Byrne, said that "most growers are right on the edge of survival and recent rains will make things worse. There is a real risk that red grapes will be further damaged with rot before they can be harvested".
The prices announced earlier this year for white and red wine grapes, vary between $200 and $300 per tonne. The cost of production for wine grapes is estimated at $350 a tonne.
UPDATE ON GRAPE HARVESTING
13 April 2011
Disturbing new stories are emerging as this year's horror grape season is drawing closer to the end, with huge volumes of shiraz and other red grape varieties being rejected by the Berri winery - a former grower co-operative which is now owned and operated by the multinational Constellation Wines.
Angry Riverland growers claim that the winery refused to take their grapes earlier when they were still in good condition and failed to warn them about the rejection in time for them to look for other buyers. Now, they are having their grapes rejected at the weigh bridge after they have gone to the expense of harvesting and delivering them to the winery.
The winery claimed, through spokesperson Anita Poddar that the grapes, after a few warm days, have gone very suddenly, from being very low in sugar to very high in sugar and therefore unsuitable for the crusher.
Riverland Winegrape Growers' Association secretary, Mr Chris Byrne, has urged wine grape growers, who fulfilled their obligations under the contract with the Winery and had their grapes rejected, to look at the option of taking legal action.
The question is, however, what chances does a broke fruit grower have in the legal system against a huge multinational company?
Author: Peter Ppiros
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