SA cheesemaker plans for new home in state-of-the-art manufacturing plant

Celebrating 30 years of success in cheesemaking, South Australian family business La Casa Del Formaggio has recently announced their move to a new state-of-the-art cheese manufacturing plant, to be built in 2020.

Renowned for their award-winning cheese products including ricotta, bocconcini, mozzarella, pecorino, parmesan, haloumi and burrata, La Casa Del Formaggio will expand from their current site at Glynde, north-east of Adelaide, to the Northern Adelaide Food Park.

The food park at Edinburgh Parks about 25km from the CBD is a food processing and manufacturing hub allowing businesses to innovate and collaborate with industry to access international markets.

La Casa Del Formaggio’s managing director, Claude Cicchiello, says the business is currently in the master planning stages of what they believe will be one of Australia’s best cheese manufacturing facilities.

Cherry bocconcini being made in the Glynde factory.

“I feel very fortunate we’ve been able to do what we love for 30 years, and we’re excited at the opportunity to expand our operations,” he says.

“The world-class modern facility will allow us to continue to produce cheese and dairy products for the Australian consumer, foodservice and export markets.”

Claude’s parents Gerardo and Rosa Cicchiello, migrants from Italy, started the business in 1988. It grew slowly and organically from its origins as a small operation supplying only the Cicchiello’s own continental deli, before higher demand saw the deli close and the cheesemaking operations take centre stage. Today, the business employs 130 people and supplies fresh cheese products Australia wide.

“Our family introduced bocconcini into the Australian market,” Claude says. “It was a product that was foreign to many families who were not used to enjoying fresh cheeses in their meals.”

“However, our local European community was certainly glad to find the product available, and over time we educated consumers through recipe sharing and cooking demonstrations.

“We also had a bit of luck in the early days with celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver using the products in his recipes.”

Claude’s sister Marissa behind the counter at La Casa Del Formaggio’s retail shop.

In the early 1990s Claude successfully implemented manufacturing processes that enabled the bocconcini product to be transported from the manufacturing facility onto supermarket shelves. The bocconcini products are still their number one seller.

“The Australian palate has certainly changed over the past 20 years. I remember a time when it was all about cheddar, with some blue and a little brie, but the demand for fresh cheese has taken off,” Claude says.

“We’re always keeping a close eye on European cheese trends, and our traditional hands-on cheese making techniques allow us to develop these products for the Australian market.

“Last year we launched our burrata – a delicate shell of fresh mozzarella that encases a decadent filling of stracciatella (mozzarella shreds soaked in cream), and it’s already proving to be very popular.”

Claude, left, and his father Gerardo in the factory.

Claude says making a consistent high-quality fresh cheese is not as simple as following a recipe.

“The milk from which you make the cheese changes regularly, and our cheese-makers need to adjust accordingly – it really is an art,” he says.

Along with the new facility at Edinburgh Park, Claude looks forward to maintaining a presence at their current location in Glynde, with a small cheesemaking operation and sales outlet open to the public.

“We still want to honour our home,” he says. “I love South Australia and I couldn’t imagine doing business and living anywhere else.”

Burrata features a delicate shell of fresh mozzarella encasing stracciatella.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Port Lincoln’s tuna industry explores further export markets

South Australia’s bluefin tuna industry – often recognised as Port Lincoln’s greatest seafood success story – is increasing exports beyond its key market of Japan.

Industry spokesman Brian Jeffriess says that while Japan will remain the southern bluefin tuna’s main export market in the long term, the industry had recently increased its trade to Korea and China.

“Most of the tuna – 98% – is going to Japan, that was until about five years ago,” says Brian, CEO of the Port Lincoln-based Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association.

“Since then we’ve increased our exports to Korea and China considerably and we’re hoping to achieve a higher level this year – about 5% of our total exports – but for all premium tuna producers in the world, countries like in the Mediterranean, Canada and the US, Japan will certainly remain the main market for a long time.”

Southern bluefin tuna is highly sought after in Japan and consumed as sashimi, a delicacy consisting of usually fresh, raw fish sliced into bite-sized pieces.

The southern bluefin tuna is a prized saltwater giant.

“Sashimi is a tradition, they (the Japanese) have been accustomed to very high-quality tuna that most countries just haven’t had access to,” Brian says.

“It’s a buoyant economy in Japan so demand is very strong, so there’s no reason to think that market will reduce. The problem for us is having an over-dependence on a single market and a single currency because we get paid in yen.

“That provides challenges every year, so we have diversified into Korea and China and we hope to take that even further in the next five years.”

Brian says the domestic market for southern bluefin tuna is also increasing.

“The domestic market is quite small and the reason for that is there are so many other tunas available to restaurants on the east coast, but some of our farmers are trying very hard to penetrate the domestic market,” he says.

“Last year was the best year we’ve had, it was about 220 tonnes to the domestic market. Five years ago it was 40 tonnes, so it’s growing all the time.”

The Australian tuna industry farms about 8500 tonnes a year with 99.9% of it heading overseas, worth $150 million.

Sashimi is a delicacy popular in Japan.

“When you turn that into total income to the region and jobs it’s very substantial and by far the largest aquaculture export in Australia, and it’s consistent and growing,” Brian says.

“It (the tuna industry) certainly underpins the Eyre Peninsula economy … the official figure is about 850 jobs in the industry itself and another 1000 at least … if you look at the hospitality industry in Port Lincoln, a lot of it – the marina, the hotels, the accommodation – was developed on tuna money.”

Southern bluefin tuna is farmed by fishers who travel out to the Great Australian Bight to catch the species in a purse seine (net). Over two weeks the tuna are slowly towed to static ranching pontoons off Port Lincoln.

The tuna are fed sardines – an industry in itself that is the largest tonnage fishery in the country – and once grown, the majority of the harvested tuna is processed and shipped directly from Port Lincoln. A smaller amount – about 10% – is chilled and flown to Japan, where it can land within two days of processing.

Australia’s main competitor in the Japanese market is Mediterranean countries such as Spain and Malta, however, SA has the logistical advantage of a shorter airfreight time to Asia.

“Obviously to fly big fish from there (the Mediterranean) to Japan is expensive and challenging at times,” Brian says.

“Ours is quite simple due to the credits of the transport agencies that exist in Australia. People don’t realise how efficient Australia is in terms of a lot of things; transport, processing in factories, people here really do work hard.”

Port Lincoln’s southern bluefin tuna story dates back to the 1960s and ’70s, when the unregulated fishery was booming. But by the late ’70s the industry was warned that the species was being overfished and in 1984, fishermen were issued quotas to prevent exploitation of the industry.

With the wild catch quota cut by almost 70%, hardworking migrant fishermen in Port Lincoln revolutionised the industry to ensure the fishery could survive, by moving away from poling individual wild fish and towards tuna farming.

Many of Port Lincoln’s pioneering tuna fishers have since gone on to establish leading seafood enterprises, including German Hagen Stehr and Croatians Sam Sarin and Tony Santic, turning the town’s fortunes around.

Brian was brought in to head the tuna industry association in the late ‘80s, bringing with him vast business experience in various highly regarded roles. He says the performance of Port Lincoln’s overall seafood industry on a global scale is “remarkable”.

“Prawns, mussels, oysters, and now with abalone farming as well, the potential growth is remarkable and Port Lincoln will be the centre of it,” he says.

“It’s not just because of the environmental qualities, it’s the people. You can have a lot of positive driving factors like the environment, transport networks, things like that, but it’s the people that make successful businesses.”

Today, six countries are part of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, with catch allowances increasing in recent years as stocks recover.

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

Throughout the months of January and February, the state’s trade and investment industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is in a prime position for trade and investment opportunities as we have a 24-hour connection to international markets and a prime reputation for our premium products and services.  Read more trade and investment stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide company Krix speaking loud to cinemas worldwide

Specialisation in niche manufacturing can connect South Australian companies with a keen global market – if their products are good enough, competitive in price and backed by an unwavering commitment to research and development.

Elite loudspeaker manufacturer Krix has enjoyed sustained success through 45 years, a family company that is still based in Adelaide’s southern suburbs and has about 25 staff, including five Krix brothers.

Krix has made speakers for more than 3500 cinemas in 30 countries, and thousands more systems for private homes – providing a strong answer to those who fear that manufacturing faces a perilous future in SA.

“The products have to be very good, for starters, but sustained business outcomes also reflect a very strong belief in what we do,” says managing director Gary Krix.

“We have a culture that reflects our pride in delivering products of world’s best standard. It all builds up over a long time – our reputation for reliability, acoustic performance, build quality and service – and our growth has been about understanding many new markets that aren’t on everyone’s radar, such as the Middle East and India.”

Krix manufactures speakers for cinemas and private home theatres in SA and exports to the world.

Recent growth for the company has been spurred by an ongoing relationship with Dubai-based VOX Cinemas, the Middle East’s largest and fastest growing cinema chain, with cinema complexes in the UAE, Oman, Egypt, Bahrain, Lebanon and Qatar.

Krix has installed its systems in more than 300 VOX cinemas in the past three years, with another 200 planned in the next two years. A key to this success has been the durability and efficiency of the Krix systems, which VOX Cinemas has identified as representing premium value for money.

“Commercial cinemas are a tough business and can be very price driven but some proprietors will take the long view and see a Krix system as being more cost effective in the long-run,” says Gary. “We have products operating in Dubai that were installed in 1999, and that has impressed a lot of buyers.”

The Krix brothers, from left, Scott, Kingsley, Gary, Ashley and Brett.

Such esteem is built on a long history of manufacturing excellence. Electronics engineer Scott Krix started making hi-fi speakers in his garage in 1974, then opened a small retail shop, the Acoustic Foundry, in Goodwood, before installing the first Krix theatre system at the nearby Capri Cinema in 1978.

His genius was inventing the world’s first infinite baffle speaker system, solving an acoustic dilemma that had plagued large cinema auditoriums.

Within five years, Krix speaker systems were installed in cinemas throughout Australia, which created a huge workload in the Krix factory at Hackham. A typical cinema has about 20 speakers, including three main front speakers, two sub-woofers and about 15 surround speakers along the side walls and back of the cinema.

Exporting commenced by the early 1990s, as cinema multiplexes began to flourish – but unexpected challenges lay ahead.

The Krix factory in Adelaide’s south.

The global financial crisis of 2007 led to soft demand for high-end goods and Krix sales suffered as a result, compounded in export markets by a high Australian dollar. The Krix brothers’ solution was to make their systems better, rather than try to compete on price against multi-national brands, which were mass-producing their products in countries with low labour costs.

New software programs were developed for Krix’s manufacturing machinery, to make products more efficiently, and more robust.

“We improved many aspects of our products, then we began developing new markets and, over time, it’s paying off,” Gary says.

Due to the prevalence of Krix systems at VOX Cinemas, a second cinema chain in the Middle East has also started using Krix systems, and a distributor is selling Krix’s high-end Series X, modular MX and SX home cinema systems into a rapidly expanding consumer market.

In China, about 30 cinemas have installed Krix sound systems in recent years, and the first Krix system has just been installed in an Indian cinema. Gary says a more interesting development is a sharp increase in high-end home cinema speaker systems in both China and India.

Exports account for about half of Krix’s revenue, which is split evenly between cinema and in-home products, but Australia remains a strong market, with Gary explaining there’s still good cinema growth here.

“Perseverance has been crucial,” says Gary. “Export sales never occur through just one international sales trip – and we had to get it exactly right in Australia first, before we even considered exporting. We’ve also learned that not every product works in every market.

“It has been an important point of difference for a small manufacturer like us to make specific products according to customer requests.”

Gary says that paying such close attention to the needs of its customers and being nimble enough to tailor products for specific needs has been a key to Krix surviving the roller coaster ride of business fortune.

“In a way, we’re glad we’ve endured such big challenges, even though we don’t want to go through them again,” he says. “But we’ve maintained solid belief in our future, backed by continual research and development. If our products keep progressing, we keep moving forward.”

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

Throughout the months of January and February, the state’s trade and investment industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is in a prime position for trade and investment opportunities as we have a 24-hour connection to international markets and a prime reputation for our premium products and services.  Read more trade and investment stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Adelaide’s newest high school opens its doors

Adelaide’s newest high school featuring a multi-storey building with a glass atrium linking to the refurbished University of South Australia Reid Building has officially opened its doors to students.

The $100 million Adelaide Botanic High School, on Frome Road in the CBD, has welcomed 350 Year 8 and 9 students as the school holidays ended and Term 1, 2019 began.

The six-storey institution will have a strong focus on STEM education (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in aim of preparing students to enter the workforce of the future.

Key design features include external learning and recreation spaces on the upper levels of the building and also around the parklands. The school also houses a music and drama theatre with a typographical projector, modern laboratories with investigative science equipment and food technology kitchens.

Students in senior grades will fill the school in coming years, with enrolments eventually totalling about 1250.  From 2022 the school will also take Year 7s as all SA public high schools move towards the Year 7-12 model.

The $100 million Adelaide Botanic High School has opened its doors to Year 8s and 9s. Photo by Chin Tan, Cox Architecture.

Adelaide Botanic High School is adjacent the Adelaide Park Lands, Adelaide Botanic Gardens and is nearby the state library, museum, art gallery and the University of Adelaide.

Premier Steven Marshall said in December 2019 that the school’s location next to the highly anticipated Australian Space Agency headquarters and the rest of the Lot Fourteen innovation precinct will offer “unprecedented opportunities for students”.

Botanic High will share a single zone with Adelaide High School, located on West Terrace.

Adelaide Botanic High School features:

  • Science, design and technology labs that underpin the school’s focus on STEM.
  • State of the art engineering and investigative science equipment.
  • Food technology kitchens.
  • Spaces to encourage creativity in design technology, media studies and art.
  • Performing arts theatre
  • A modern library and research centre.
  • External learning and recreation spaces around the parklands and on the school’s upper levels.
  • Indoor gym and fitness studio.
  • Cafeteria with an outdoor terrace.
  • Basement parking for 170 bicycles.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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A saint among Ceduna seniors

There are few things more rewarding for Leeanne ‘Twig’ Holmes than helping senior residents explore the country outside of their home on the Eyre Peninsula.

Originally part of her job as activities co-ordinator at the Ceduna District Health Service, these seniors trips were sadly no longer viable for the hospital. So in 2012 Leeanne decided to volunteer her time outside of work to ensure they would continue.

“Every time I went down the street one of the group would stop me to ask when they could go again because they were so wonderful. In the end I thought ‘oh what’s a week out of my time to take them?’” she says.

Leeanne has organised transport, accommodation and care for groups of up to 35 seniors at a time, allowing them to travel from Ceduna, Streaky Bay, Wudinna and Kyancutta (over 800km west of Adelaide) to enjoy activities that are not always accessible to them.

The group has journeyed as far as Kangaroo Island, Adelaide, and Swan Hill in Victoria to enjoy music concerts, restaurant dinners and even helicopter rides over the Flinders Ranges. For many seniors, these excursions would not have been possible without Leeanne, who also ensures all of their medical care needs are met.

Leeanne ‘Twig’ Holmes with rescue greyhound Zeppo who visits seniors at the Ceduna hospital and village. Leeanne is Ceduna’s 2019 Citizen of the Year. Photo by Kaitlin Kavanagh.

Leeanne says she believes these trips are really important for older people in regional communities, because bus tours and assisted holidays are usually only available from Adelaide, the closest major city.

“Either family have to drive them 800km or they catch a coach or plane on their own, then they have to figure out how to catch a taxi or public transport which they are not used to. Some of these people are 80-90 years old and it’s just a nightmare for them,” Leanne says.

She says the only reward she needs is to see the joy on the faces of seniors while they are travelling.

“The best thing I think is sitting around the campfire, listening to them tell stories. It’s just beautiful seeing them laughing and crying because they are so overwhelmed by it all,” Leanne says.

Despite her humility, the Smoky Bay resident has been named the 2019 Citizen of the Year in her community. The award was nominated by one of the seniors who regularly travels with Leeanne. She was awarded not only for her volunteer work with seniors, but for contributions to the local sports club, her responsibility as an emergency foster carer and her work welcoming student doctors into Ceduna.

Leeanne has volunteered countless hours for her beloved Smoky Bay Community Club, where she was first exposed to the overwhelming mateship and generosity in the community, values that have been central in every facet of her life.

Most recently, she has organised for a rescue greyhound “Zeppo” to regularly visit the seniors at the Ceduna hospital and village.

“I get back to work on Monday and the first thing I hear when I walk through the door isn’t ‘Hello Twig, did you have a good weekend?’, it’s ‘Where’s the dog?’” she says.

Leeanne continues to find new ways to bring joy to her seniors both in and outside of work and says that she cannot see herself stopping.

“I ask them all if they want to do it again they always say ‘yes of course, we’ll leave it up to you to plan.’ As long as the numbers are there I will continue. It’s just gorgeous I love it.”

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The Polly Waffle is back … and it’ll be made right here in SA

A decade after disappearing from supermarket shelves, the legendary Polly Waffle chocolate bar is back.

Fourth-generation South Australian family business Robern Menz has acquired the long-lost chocolate treat from Swiss confectionery giant Nestlé, which discontinued the Polly Waffle in 2009.

Robern Menz – maker of much-loved Fruchocs – will take ownership of the Polly Waffle brand and trademark as well as the famous recipe.

The Polly Waffle’s history dates back to 1947, when Melbourne-based Hoadley’s Chocolates first made the chocolate-coated wafer and marshmellow bar.

Robern Menz acquired another iconic sweet – the Violet Crumble – from Nestlé in 2018 and rolled the first bar off its production line last October. The addition to the company meant 30 jobs were created and the factory expanded.

Robern Menz CEO Phil Sims says the Polly Waffle has entered into the territory of Australian legend, after production ceased almost 10 years ago.

“There are kids and even young adults out there who don’t really know what a Polly Waffle is and haven’t tasted it before, but there are also many devoted fans who have been campaigning hard for its return,” he says.

“Since taking over the Violet Crumble brand we have been bombarded with two distinct questions, when are you bringing back the bags of Violet Crumble and when are you bringing back Polly Waffle? There is even a Facebook page that has over 55,000 members petitioning to ‘Bring Back The Polly Waffle.’

“As an Australian family-owned business, we have a real affinity for local brands and to have the opportunity to revive them and bring them back into the market is such a privilege. We also love a challenge and are honoured to be the business that gets the chance to try to bring back the Polly Waffle.

“Australia’s food production industry is important to our future economy and sustainability. We believe our role and contribution is keeping as much manufacturing here as possible and creating jobs, and we’ve been doing this for over 150 years.”

When Brand SA News shared news of the Violet Crumble acquisition in 2018, social media users inundated Brand South Australia’s Facebook page, commenting on their desire for the Polly Waffle to return.

“Great news for SA! Now bring back the Polly Waffle,” said Derek Turner, while Sam Gibbs agreed. “Fantastic. I’m also on the POLLY WAFFLE bandwagon too. PLEASE.”

Nestlé business executive officer–confectionery, Chris O’Donnell, says Nestlé is also excited about the Polly Waffle’s return.

“Polly Waffle is one of those iconic brands that despite its absence from market still has a loyal following,” he says.

“We wish Robern Menz the best of luck in bringing it back and giving Australia’s Polly Waffle lovers the opportunity to enjoy it once again.”

Robern Menz is also bringing back the much-loved Violet Crumble 180g bag, featuring bite-sized versions of the chocolate bar, available at a number of national retailers from March 2019.

The Robern Menz factory is located at Glynde in Adelaide’s north eastern suburbs.

Header image is of Robern Menz CEO Phil Sims.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Rich talent and education at the heart of our musical city

Adelaide is home to an experienced pool of individuals working on major world-class arts and music festivals, according to the state’s music industry body.

Music SA’s general manager Lisa Bishop says the live music industry also offers many opportunities with boutique music festivals and club nights contributing to a “thriving sector”.

“Our thriving venue-based live music sector offers jobs ranging from, but not limited to, promoters, bookers, merchandisers, sound engineers, tour managers and publicists,” she says.

South Australia is home to a number of major annual music events and festivals including the upcoming Adelaide Fringe (February 15–March 17), WOMADelaide (February 8–11), Superloop Adelaide 500 concerts (February 28–March 3), as well as smaller boutique events such as St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Handpicked Festival, Stonecutters Festival and Umbrella Festival.

But SA’s music industry not only holds opportunities in industry-based roles – but also jobs in the spotlight. Maggie Collins is the brains behind Brisbane’s BIGSOUND, one of the biggest events on the Aussie music calendar. She says Adelaide is brimming with musical talent.

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. Photo: SATC.

“The talent per capita is one of the stand-out elements that comes to mind of the SA music industry,” she says. “It’s inspiring to watch from afar that SA has great quality workers and artist representatives who are lovely to work with on any project.”

Adelaide was designated as Australia’s first and only City of Music in 2015, becoming a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). The network was created in 2004 and currently promotes 116 cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

Director of the UNSECO Adelaide office, Rebecca Pearce, says Adelaide was recognised as a City of Music because creativity, the arts and music are woven into the city’s fabric and are central to the state’s development.

“It not only looks at our extensive history, but also how far we can grow our urban culture,” she says.

Adelaide has birthed a number of hugely successful talents, including international pop sensation Sia, hip hop trio Hilltop Hoods, pop singer Guy Sebastian, opera’s Greta Bradman, rock legends Cold Chisel, ’90s rock group The Superjesus, and rap queen Tkay Maidza, all of which have established international fan bases.

Adelaide rap queen Tkay Maidza has gone on to achieve massive success.

SA is also known as the festival state, hosting internationally renowned four-day world music festival WOMADelaide, which attracts attendances beyond 86,000, almost half of which travel from outside the state.

The Adelaide Cabaret Festival is the biggest cabaret festival in the world, while the Adelaide Guitar Festival is the most significant of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival of Arts and OzAsia all include strong music programs, while our city is also home to the oldest tertiary school in Australia, the Elder Conservatorium founded in 1883.

Music also plays a part in our youth’s future learning, with the State Government throwing its support behind the Music Education Strategy. According to the strategy, music education helps build confidence, promote creativity and assist students to develop emotional and behavioural awareness. Musically trained children perform better and use language more effectively and earlier, it says.

Music SA’s Lisa Bishop says a number of education institutions exist in Adelaide, including the Sia Fuller Institute, SAE Institute, Fresh 92.7 radio station and Music SA itself. Each run a variety of music courses, with Musica Viva – Australia’s oldest independent performing arts organisation – and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra also running workshops.

“There are networking opportunities at free public workshops run by Music SA, Northern Sound System and local councils,” she says. “The Music Development Office also runs a grant program to help people collaborate with other songwriters, as well as set up their own mini music festival or event.”

Triple J breakfast radio presenter Liam Stapleton begun his radio career as a teenager at Fresh 92.7 in Adelaide. He says the city’s community radio sector was a launching pad for him to hone his skills and build on-air experience.

“Without volunteering in community radio, I don’t think I’d be working in radio,” Liam says. “It gave me experience and stacks of time on-air to hone my craft, my craft of talking. It’s harder than it looks.”

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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Local knowledge informs clever new Barossa tasting room

With its sophisticated wine and food presentation echoing chic European style, Vino Lokal in Tanunda offers a completely different vibe that visitors to the Barossa may not expect – and this is exactly the reaction that its proprietors, the Artisans of Barossa winemakers collective, want to achieve with its innovative new cellar door offering.

Creating the new tasting room in Tanunda’s main street is a bold step for the Artisans, which comprises five boutique Barossa wine brands that formed a collaborative marketing group a decade ago and have shared a communal cellar door tasting room overlooking vineyards at Vine Vale, just outside Tanunda, since 2011.

The winemaker owners of John Duval Wines, Schwarz Wine Co, Sons of Eden, Spinifex and Hobbs of Barossa Ranges recognise that small wine brands in Australia are under enormous pressure to connect with customers – especially when visitors travel to a wine region and are on the hunt for a unique and memorable wine tasting experience.

Their innovative shared tasting room set a new high benchmark for an informative cellar door tasting experience, yet now they have radically changed a successful operation by opening Vino Lokal.

A wine tasting flight at Vino Lokal in Tanunda, Barossa Valley. Photo by John Krüger.

“Since 2005, Artisans of Barossa has pioneered the clustering of small wine brands through effective marketing and succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, but we still feel a need to stay ahead of the curve,” says Howard Duncan, Artisans of Barossa’s chief operating officer. “This will be a new positioning statement for both the Artisans and the Barossa.”

Vino Lokal, connecting the Spanish word for wine with the German term for local, re-imagines the winery tasting ritual by introducing a shift from just sampling wine, to sharing wine with food – and from standing up, to sitting down and slowing down.

The restored stone cottage in Tanunda’s main street has 50 seats across two rooms, offering twin experiences by taking bookings for tables in the Wine Room, but welcoming walk-ins for the more informal Wine Bar.

It illustrates the modern Barossa personality, underlining that a new generation of winemakers are looking to Mediterranean wine cultures for inspiration, while also respecting the Barossa’s deep German heritage and historic vineyards.

“A new history is emerging, and Artisans are very much a part of it,” says Howard. “This is not just reflected in the style of wines being made, but how we enjoy them in the company of good food and conversation.”

Good food, good  wine and good conversation is what Vino Lokal is all about. Photo by John Krüger.

Artisans of Barossa’s shift to its new location has been swift – only 100 days from realising the site was available to opening its doors for customers – but they are delighted to have created a one-stop wine enjoyment shop, familiar to global wine travellers but not yet seen in Australia.

“This is the next phase of where culinary tourism is headed in this country’s wine regions, with a more complete integration of wine and food tasting,” says Howard. “It’s the facility that will create a broader conversation about how we enjoy wine and food together.”

The Wine Room’s selection of over 50 Barossa wines from the Artisan group’s winemakers tells the changing story of Barossa wine through different categories – of dry savoury rosé, of grenache and of blends, introducing mataro and cinsault into the conversation.

Importantly, underlining a Mediterranean accent promoted by the venue name, there is a category titled Not Your Usual Barossa Suspects, showcasing locally-produced tempranillo, aglianico, sagratino and pinot noir. Even the familiar shiraz category has been fragmented into different styles of expression – savoury and textural; soft supple and elegant; rich and flavoursome; bold and extravagant.

Photo by John Krüger.

“All this is designed to take wine tasters further down the Barossa rabbit hole, and it’s an eye-opening experience to find so much variety in one winemaking region,” says Howard.

“It’s a different way of guiding people through a tasting. Rather than present a sliding scale of good/better/best, we encourage vertical tastings across artisan styles, to make comparisons and appreciate the points of difference.”

Visitors can book for Wine Skool tutored tastings, or purchase wines in flights of four, six or eight tasting pours, which can be accompanied by four bite-sized selections from a menu that also offers snacks, charcuterie, cheeses and Chef’s Plates created by Ryan Edwards, former executive chef at Appellation restaurant.

While Vino Lokal is now open for daily business, Artisans of Barossa wine tastings will continue at its original Vine Vale site until Sunday February 3, when the space will become the new tasting room for Calabria Family Wines, supported by food from Harvest Kitchen.

Artisans of Barossa will also commence building another new home from April, at Kroemer’s Crossing outside Tanunda, with plans to open in January 2020.

“We want to expand so that we can also present a great vineyard-based experience, where people can enjoy a longer, slower exploration of wine,” says Howard, explaining that Vino Lokal will also stay open, to offer two different Barossa wine, food and hospitality options.

“We’re confident the two Artisans experiences will happily co-exist. It’s an exciting time for us to keep our eyes on the horizon.”

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Andamooka locals: we need a pool to escape the sweltering heat!

About 600km north of Adelaide in the South Australian outback, locals in the remote town of Andamooka have spent the past year fundraising for a new public pool.

It gets hot in the old opal mining town, really hot.

So hot that the local publican, John Smirnios, reckons he sets bags of ice on his bar fridges to keep them from overheating in the peak of summer.

“The last couple of weeks here have been over 40C every day,” says John, owner of Andamooka’s Tuckabox Hotel.

“The poor kids sit under the air-conditioning with nothing to do. It’s too hot for the playground or skate park. If we had a pool it would be very nice.”

John is a member of the Andamooka Progress and Opal Miners Association and is driving efforts to raise $100,000 to build a new public swimming pool for the town.

About $20,000 has been raised over the past 12 months or so through a number of community events, raffles and auctions. John has a donation tin sitting on his front bar while miners have also donated opals to the cause.

The new swimming pool is proposed to be built near the Andamooka camp ground.

Andamooka once had a swimming pool at the local school but it closed down due to cost issues. A small splash pad was made for children, but John says a proper swimming pool would be good for tourism and would provide a public place to escape the heat. He would also like to see an information centre established in the town to benefit tourists and short-stay visitors.

“The nearest pool is at Roxby Downs which is a 60km round trip,” John says.

There is a good chance that Andamooka, which lies 40km east of the Olympic Dam copper mine and Roxby Downs, is one of the hottest places on earth during summer heatwaves.

So far this month Andamooka has endured 13 days of 40C-plus weather, while tomorrow (January 23) could see the record broken for its hottest day since records began in 1969, although this 47.8C record was matched over a week ago on January 15. Tomorrow’s temperature is forecast to reach 47C.

Tuckabox Hotel owner John Smirnios. Photo by Travis Hague.

Andamooka has no local council to provide basic infrastructure and services, instead falling under the Outback Communities Authority. The town relies on the dedication of the Andamooka Progress and Opal Miners Association to carry out community projects and improvements.

The association’s vice chair Ian Thompson says the new swimming pool is one of the association’s major projects, alongside plans for a new community centre, kitchen and men’s shed facilities.

He commends the efforts of locals who put in their time generously to raise money and see projects through.

The association is made up of volunteers and a small number of paid members. It has delivered many community infrastructure projects over the years, including the upgrade of the local caravan and camping site, and playground.

It also implements a successful Work for the Dole scheme which has lead to many improvements including the refurbishment of Andamooka’s historic mining cottages.

“We have a population of about 500 … we do not have one public servant in this town apart from at the school,” Ian says. “That’s a good indication of a community looking after itself.”

Header image: Tuckabox Hotel owner John Smirnios with Andamooka children who would like to see a new swimming pool established in the town. Photo by Travis Hague.

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SA export opportunities, brands on show at G’day USA

South Australia is intending to bolster its trade relationship with the United States by spruiking export credentials, promoting local brands in the US market and attracting further investment in the defence and space sector.

Premier Steven Marshall has embarked on a 10-day trip in the US to help push SA’s export opportunities and attract more US investment, with a focus on defence, space, food and wine industries.

During the visit, it’s understood Mr Marshall will take part in roundtable discussions with company CEOs, high-ranking government officials and policy experts in Los Angeles to attract interest and further investment in SA.

The visit is part of the annual G’day USA in Los Angeles, where Australian ideas, invention and talent are promoted to audiences across the US.

SA is one of the Australian states sponsoring the 10-day event which will include the high profile G’day USA Los Angeles Gala on January 26.

The US is SA’s second-largest trading partner, with more than 400 SA firms currently exporting their products and services to the US.

“The United States is a crucial trading partner for our state,” Mr Marshall says.

“We need to make sure we make the most of any opportunity to promote our trade and export potential and create better access for South Australian businesses to US markets.

“The United States is already our second-largest export destination, and as the biggest investor in South Australia, the US already has a considerable presence in our state.

“I want to use this trip to drive further investment from the United States in South Australia and bolster the economic growth set in motion by our government.”

Mr Marshall says the US will be a “crucial investor” in SA’s space sector with the establishment of the Australian Space Agency in Adelaide, helping the local space industry reach its full potential.

He told reporters earlier this month that the State Government was committed to opening a trade office in the US, with trade offices also opening in Tokyo, Malaysia and the Middle East this year.

SA opened a new trade and investment office in Shanghai in November 2018.

Industry in focus: Trade and Investment

Throughout the months of January and February, the state’s trade and investment industry will be explored as part of I Choose SA.

South Australia is in a prime position for trade and investment opportunities as we have a 24-hour connection to international markets and a prime reputation for our premium products and services.  Read more trade and investment stories here.

Visit I Choose SA to meet the people building business and industry in SA, and to find out how your choices make a difference to our state.

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