ON the eve of last weekend’s Margaret River Wine Festival, Western Australian wine producers were being prepped on international marketing and export trends. A series of Wine Australia business seminars have just been held in WA as the first in Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation’s information tour of Australia’s key wine regions. The WA seminars, in Margaret River on November 14 and Perth on November 15, were held in conjunction with the West Australian Wine Industry Assoc-iation, Austrade and selected industry suppliers. The initiative, which will next tour the Hunter Valley and Melbourne CBD, is designed to help vignerons meet the current market challenges associated with their industry. As well as discussing the recently launched Wine Australia campaign, the AWBC covered topics such as wine export hurdles, international wine regulatory standards, and export packaging, logistical and freighting statistics. In a report to industry officials, AWBC chairman David Brownhill described the current climate for Australian wine producers as “full of possibilities and challenges”. This country still retains its ranking as the world’s fourth largest wine exporter, but for the fourth successive year the average price per litre of wine has dropped, standing at $4.16 in June 2005. These conferences, which have been strategically designed and marketed by the AWBC, reinforce not only Australia’s coming of age as a global wine producer, but also underline the importance of international markets to the future viability of the local wine industry.