Senate debates

Tuesday, 3 December 2013


Semmler, Mr Eric

7:18 pm

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Tonight it gives me great pleasure to advise the House that a Riverland winemaker has been named Australian Winemaker of the Year by Winestate magazine. It is probably not terribly exceptional that a winemaker will be named winemaker of the year, but over many years the Riverland has been regarded as an area that produces only bulk wine. For Mr Eric Semmler, from 919 Wines in Monash, to be named Australian Winemaker of the Year is extraordinarily exceptional. It sets the tone for where some of our warmer-climate wines and their makers are going to in the future.

The thing that has allowed Mr Semmler to break the mould of those more traditional winemakers from the cooler climates, who always seem to receive the great awards for winemaking, has been that he decided to start using alternative types of varieties for making wine. He has spent a lot of time focusing on the kind of grape varieties that are likely to flourish and make good wine in hot climates—certainly, the Riverland during summer has extremely hot temperatures. He made quite a famous wine out of durif a number of years ago. We now see durif emerging as a varietal that is quite popular in Australia. He has also tried some of the Spanish varieties such as tempranillo, which is a lighter style of wine. It is absolutely fantastic that Mr Semmler has been acknowledged for making wines to suit his climate and growing grapes that suit the climate and that he has now been acknowledged for excellence in achieving the great wines he produces.

He also deserves to be acknowledged not just for making wine but also because he understands the extraordinary value of wine tourism to regional areas of South Australia. The Riverland has struggled over the last few years because of a lack of water and problems with water allocations through the development of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan during a time of drought. Mr Semmler and his wife, Jenny, decided that instead of worrying about those problems they would diversify their business. Now they have a very successful tourism business attached to their winery. This may not seem terribly exceptional to many people who have come from the more traditional wine regions around Australia such as Coonawarra, the Hunter Valley and the Yarra, but the Riverland once again is not necessarily known as a region for wine tourism. Mr Semmler and his wife have made a very successful business out of wine tourism by including food and art and promoting local artists and food producers.

I put on the record the fantastic result that Eric and Jenny Semmler have achieved for the Riverland, for the South Australian wine industry and for tourism in our area. I recommend to everybody in this place that if you are looking for an alternative drop of wine to have with your Christmas dinner—turkey or pork—you look up the brand 919 Wine from Monash and learn for yourself what a wonderful job he does of using alternative grape varieties to make some fantastic wines.