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Aussie petition accused of protectionism

An online petition calling on Australians to drink local has been accused of protectionism.

McLaren Vale producer Stephen Pannell has launched a website, allforonewine.com.au, urging Australians to drink Australian wine in January 2011.

The petition, which has attracted more than 500 signatories in the first five days including winemakers Vanya Cullen, Jeffrey Grosset and wine writer Max Allen, has attracted a good deal of criticism.

There has been considerable debate amongst bloggers and on Twitter, with claims it is ‘protectionist’ and ‘jingoistic’.

Pannell said he was simply trying to celebrate Australian wines. ‘Australian wine is not travelling well even in our own market. There’s almost a cultural cringe about our wines but we should have pride in them. It’s hypocritical to eat local and then drink Chianti,’ he told Decanter.com.

‘People are up in arms about this but it’s only 26 days of drinking Australian wine – I’m not asking people to drink five litres of Yellow Tail or donate a kidney.’

Barossa producer Matt Gant of First Drop Wines has also backed the campaign. ‘Steve’s open letter is a convincing call to arms that raises some good points, not least challenging us to explore our own back yard for great wines rather than looking to the Old World, plus posing the question “if you’re eating local, why aren’t you drinking local?” So I was happy to enlist and join the good fight,’ he told Decanter.com.

The petition has also been criticised overseas – notably in New Zealand, for which Australia is the biggest export market.

Philip Gregan, CEO of New Zealand Winegrowers, questioned the campaign’s motives. ‘Where would the Australian industry be if a similar campaign started in the USA? The world is bigger enough for us all, and a huge part of the joy of wine is the taste and stories of wines from different places and cultures. Such a move represents a very myopic view of the world’ he said.

Written by Rebecca Gibb

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