Whether written or spoken, an agreement between two parties that involves an offer and acceptance is normally considered to be a contractual obligation. Therefore, a decision not to buy grapes or to downgrade grapes requires careful consideration. It is important that methods used to assess quality in the vineyard are as objective as possible and in alignment with any standards described in the grape supply agreement. Problems and misunderstandings can often be avoided by ensuring that an open dialogue is maintained throughout the season. Growers should inform wineries as soon as possible if they become aware of any change in the maturity, purity or condition of the grapes that may justify a price deduction being applied or rejection of the grapes. Winemakers should involve their growers as much as possible when it comes to vineyard assessments and ensure safety and biosecurity protocols at the site are adhered to.
In 2019 the ACCC undertook a study on the winegrape market and raised concerns regarding certain practices including the lack of transparency over pricing and quality assessments. In response, the AWRI has developed industry indorsed standard procedures for assessing certain quality parameters as well as a procedures for sampling grapes. Over the next few weeks Australian Grape and Wine and AWRI will be running a series of workshops about best practice winegrape quality assessment, as well as strategies to build fair and equitable relationships with growers and winemakers. Anyone who is a vineyard owners or manager, grower liaison officers and winemakers responsible for vineyard and grape quality related assessments should consider attending.
The following regions are hosting these workshops throughout January, February and March:
McLaren Vale: 30th January at 5pm
Clare: 31st January at 2pm
Barossa: 1st February at 10am
Riverland 2nd February at 2pm
Adelaide Hills: 8th February at 9am
Langhorne Creek: 1st March at 10am
To register your interest please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or register to attend through your regional association. The workshops have been made possible due to funding made available from the South Australian Government.
Winemakers who have not yet signed the Code of Conduct for Winegrape Purchases are encouraged to do so via our website. Australian Grape and Wine has resources and webinars on the website for assessing grapes and information regarding for resolving disputes relating to grape supply agreements under the Code.
The ACCC is also able to assist businesses to understand their rights under contract law and has information on their website relating to unfair contract terms.