jamie goode's wine blog: Meet Matthew Munzberg, a Barossa grower on a world tour

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Meet Matthew Munzberg, a Barossa grower on a world tour

Went into central London again for the first time in ages. It really feels a bit like going back to school after the long summer away.

I met up with Matthew Munzberg for lunch. He's a fourth-generation Barossa grape grower who farms 45 hectares, and also makes some wine under the Mad Dog label - he's also the author of an interesting, pithily written blog.

For the last 14 weeks Matthew has been touring the world by virtue of a Nuffield farming scholarship. His travels have taken him to China, the Philippines, Idaho and Europe, visiting all manner of farmers and absorbing large volumes of information. He's written about some of his travels on his blog, and it sounds like a brilliant program.

One of the things he's looking at is how Barossa can promote itself as a wine region. Currently, the Barossa is dominated by growers. On average they farm 8 hectares each, which isn't a lot, and are paid around 800 dollars a ton for their grapes. It's hard to make a living this way: Matthew, with 45 hectares, says it's a struggle even with a larger holding. The worry is that growers will be forced to sell and big companies will acquire the vineyards, with the region losing its soul in the process.

For this reason, it's important for Barossa to have more visibility with consumers as a region. At the moment many grapes from here go into wines that aren't labelled 'Barossa'. If Barossa were to count for more, then grapes would be worth more, and growers' livelihoods would be safeguarded.

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