Grape growers and wine makers have a bright future ahead of them.
That's the takeaway message from ANZ agribusiness expert Michael Whitehead, who drove to Griffith on Tuesday to give a rundown on how the wine industry is shaping up.
Business is booming, as it turns out; after a rocky start to the decade the Australian wine industry is heading towards 2020 on an exceptionally high note.
Rising revenues buoyed by a growing demand in China has given a boost to local growers and winemakers.
"Australian wine has a very good reputation in China; it's the wine they like the most," Mr Whitehead said.
He predicts overseas demand will continue to grow well into the future as the rest of the Asian markets develop a taste for Australian wine.
What's less certain is the cost of water going forward, especially as Australia heads towards a federal election in May.
"We will see by the end of this year what the political landscape is in Australia and how much the water regulations have changed," Mr Whitehead said.
"Everything to do with water has a way to go in terms of leveling out. It won't be a perfect outcome for everybody, because nothing ever is, so investors and producers will continue to watch very carefully."
With most polls predicting a win for Labor in the federal election, MIA grape growers are bracing themselves for more water buybacks under a water portfolio headed by Tony Burke.
The full extent of the next government's agenda is just one of the uncertainties faced by irrigators, who are also concerned about the future of water allocations.
But no matter what happens on the water front, Mr Whitehead predicts the industry will continue to reap the rewards of an ever-expanding international market.
He says that's especially good news for towns like Griffith, which relies heavily on its wine exports to prosper and thrive.
"It's great to see how healthy country towns like Griffith are," Mr Whitehead said.
"Just by driving down here you can see it; I could never work out why more city people don't move to places like Griffith."
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