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Q&A: Wine Victoria chair Stephanie Duboudin

Ahead of Wine Victoria‘s arrival at this year’s London Wine Fair, db spoke with chair Stephanie Duboudin about what sets the winemaking in Australia’s smallest mainland state apart.
Stephanie Duboudin
What sets winemaking in Victoria apart from the rest of Australia?
The sheer diversity of the range of wine styles being made. From Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz and sparkling in the cooler climate regions, through to lighter style reds with finesse, and, of course, a long and rich history with fortifieds. The Victorian regions have a diverse set of climatic and geographical conditions, from cool climate high elevations, to maritime and continental conditions. 
Given the immense longevity of some producers in Victoria, is it really fair to view the state as part of the “New World” in wine?
It’s an interesting point, however, Victoria is also home to Australia’s largest concentration of small, family-owned, artisan wine producers – known for their creativity and producing wine of exceptional quality. We have over 700 wineries across the state, a number of which have histories of over 100 years, as well as an emerging small craft producer influence with innovative wine styles and winemaking. 
Victoria has a very notable Italian diaspora, and a strong Italian influence on its winemaking. Why do these grape varieties make such great wines in Victoria?
They suit the climatic conditions and they are very food friendly wines with their natural acidity and tannins. Many of our wineries who cultivate Italian varieties have been doing so for generations. They are dynamic producers who continue to innovate through the generations. Increasingly, well-known Italian varieties, including Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio, Dolcetto, Arneis and Barbera are grown throughout Victoria. But it’s not just Italy, there’s a growing presence of varieties from across the Iberian Peninsula, which is exciting to see.
As travel gradually reopens, do you think we will see a boom in wine tourism in Victoria?
We have already seen really strong visitation return to the wine regions from domestic travellers, and it’s great to see international travellers starting to return. There’s been a real resurgence in travel to the regions outside Melbourne, with people keen to explore the rich diversity of food, drink and agri-tourism experiences that are literally in their own backyard. 
What makes Melbourne such a great food and drink destination?
Melbourne is the food capital of Australia, with a rich diversity of raw produce, talented producers and inquisitive consumers. The food and drink culture is a central part of life in Melbourne and partly why our world-class dining scene is the envy of the world.  Melbourne has a culturally diverse mix of population and we’re a city that has strongly embraced the influence of Italian, Greek, Asian and African cuisines. 
What are the most crucial markets for Victorian wine?
In terms of our focus, we’re looking to expand our footprint into the United Kingdom, naturally. However, we’re also investing in programmes in the United States, Canada, Japan, Singapore and South Korea. 
What are the current and upcoming trends surrounding wine in Victoria?
In terms of current and future trends, we’re seeing a groundswell of interest in organic and sustainably produced wines, and in sustainability in general. The alternate variety scene is really gathering pace, particularly those from the Iberian peninsula and broader Mediterranean which are well suited to the climate of many regions throughout Victoria. And look out for small batch wines from artisanal producers – being home to over 700 wineries there is such diversity to be discovered.
What are you excited to share at London Wine Fair?
We’re excited to showcase our wines, tell our stories, meet friends new and old and champion just why wines from Victoria deserve a place on the shelves or on a wine list.
Visit Wine Victoria on stands 113-117 & 144 at Wines Unearthed at the London Wine Fair from 7- 9 June. Pick up a key from one of the team on a fair walkabout and unlock the safe on the stand to win a prize.

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