There's a stirring Down Under. Earlier this month Wine Australia, a new division under the Australian Government, gathered 250 key retailers, restauranteurs, wine journalists and beverage directors in Adelaide to pick, poll, quiz and conference. The objective: find out from the "front lines" what Australia needs to do to re-engage the wine consumer. The conference schedule was full and each was packed with Australian winemakers, marketers, and importers eager for perspective.  

  Panels included a great mix of retail, press and trade representatives. Subjects didn't pull any punches. I especially liked the one titled "Retailer - Friend or Foe" (what?).¬†After three full days of talking, it was time for wine country immersion. That meant winery visits, vineyards tours and "master classes" by coalitions of the top winemakers of each region - Barossa Valley, Eden Valley, Clare Valley and McLaren Vale.  

  Oysters were great with these classy dry rieslings.    

  A crash course in vine grafting at the Yalumba nursery. These are used to make strong new vineyards. Grafting is also used in the field to change varietals in a vineyard - say from Chardonnay to Shiraz. Just not 170 year old Shiraz vines like this one at Lengmeil Winery in the Barossa Valley.  

  A tasting like this is only tough when it's the third one before lunch...   Will Australian efforts pay off? They have a lot of story to tell: regionality, cool climate excitement, food affinities, emerging? areas and wine tourism, just to name a few. Australia is working hard to tell that story, including retail and restaurant promotions. But what was the plummet in Australian wine about? Is Australian wine forever "so 2007?" What will come of these new efforts? Time and taste will tell.