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A HORTICULTURAL growers' group
is cultivating a new plan for the region
which hopes to quadruple Adelaide Plains
producers' profits over five years.
The Hortex Alliance is aiming to bring efficien-
cies to the market and the growers by turning the
Virginia Horticulture Centre, the use of which
was authorised by Playford Council last Tuesday,
into an information hub, a centre of excellence for
training growers and a place to disseminate rel-
Alliance chief executive Bryan Robertson wants
to maximise the full potential of the Virginia, Ad-
elaide Plains and Barossa regions to increase gross
produce value from $125 million to $500 million
over five years.
"Some of the technologies and the way
that we grow things are really from the '50s and
'60s, so we need to bring that up to speed to
meet current market demands," Mr Robertson
"At the moment, our growers can produce any-
thing in this region but we have an oversupply of
product, so we are actually aiming to reduce the
amount of product that we produce but increase
the quality of it.
"Rather than producing a bucket-load of veg-
etables we are going to produce half a bucket but
the quality is going to be so good the consumer
will really want it and be prepared to pay big dol-
lars for that product."
According to Mr Robertson, the northern food
bowl is the biggest horticultural area in Austra-
lia with the largest concentration of glasshouses
and polyhouses in South Australia and, there-
fore, has the potential to replace Holden as the
region's largest employer when the plant closes in
"We are never going to get Holden workers
working in the fields (but) there are opportunities
in processing, transport, manufacturing, process-
ing and warehousing," he said.
"It is all about building the service industries
around and value-adding, basically."
The alliance, which represents growers, is
working with the Wakefield Group to deliver a
model to bring benefits to everyone in the
supply chain by creating greater export opportu-
nities with China, the Middle East and South East
"South Australia is centralised in terms of
transport because we can get stuff out to the
Middle East and South East Asia pretty easily,"
"It is a matter of getting those efficiencies
in the transport system to stimulate this invest-
"Certainly, from Hortex's point of view, we are
looking to broaden our horizons, we don't limit
ourselves to a particular area, we are here to look
at the needs of the growers and we hope that the
training opportunities that we are going to de-
velop through the Virginia Horticulture Centre
THE International Top Wine
Show Challenge Contest may be a
slightly unwieldy name but it has
yielded Chinese gold for an Angle
Virgara Wines returned from the
July wine show attended by winemak-
ers from across the world with a gold
medal for its 2012 grand reserve caber-
net sauvignon, in what is a significant
boost for the local business.
Attended by thousands of people,
the expo culminated in an award cer-
emony on the Great Wall of China and
brought immediate benefits for the
winery, according to managing direc-
tor Tony Virgara.
"After this came out (the awards), one
person came and bought all of what we
had at the show," Mr Virgara said.
For a winery on the Adelaide Plains,
one of Australia's less-vaunted grape-
growing areas, Mr Virgara said the
gold medal is a significant achievement
as the business plans to further grow its
"China is our main market, so
to have a trophy for best cabernet
in your biggest market is excellent,"
Mr Virgara said.
"We also got a silver award for the
second-best exhibitor in the show."
The wine was a first-of-its-kind entry
for the winery, further highlighting a
bright future for the company's export
prospects in a market rapidly develop-
ing its taste for wine.
"We tasted it and found it was really
good and worth doing as a separate
wine," Mr Virgara said.
"I think it's a combination of good
wine, good vintage, good new oak and
The win could also prove a trendset-
ter for wines from the Adelaide Plains,
proving that certain varieties can be
grown in the region.
"This area's not renowned for its
cabernet, historically it's used as a high-
"It's held on to that reputation...I
think it's slightly unwarranted.
"The fruit is really good, in fact,
the cabernet is like what you'd get at
Langhorne Creek or even further south
heading towards the Coonawara, they
tend to be leafy and black 'currenty'."
"It's a really nice wine."
-- Rob McLean
Winery's big win
Boost for food bowl
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Rather than producing a
bucket-load of vegetables we are going
to produce half a bucket but the quality
is going to be so good the consumer will
really want it and be prepared to pay
big dollars for that product.
Virgara Winery is excited by its gold-medal win at a Chinese wine exhibition.
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