Towards a Cultural Economy Paradigm for the Australian Wine Industry

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Journal Article
Prometheus, 2008, 26 (4), pp. 373 - 385
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The twenty-first century wine industry is a very different one from that which dominated operations in the 1980s and 1990s. Production, distribution and marketing of wine are now colonised by an array of complex and intersecting dynamics. Primary among these is a growing demand among consumers for value-added qualities. Particularly in mature markets, standardised, commodity-style wine is failing to satisfy an increasingly educated consumer base. What is required now among a number of New World producers is an understanding of the way in which wine's cultural and economic qualities can be woven into a more enriched fabric. This would not simply add cultural elements to an economically oriented product. Rather, it would weave individual and community values, passion, care, identity, and terroir together with the more tangible aspects of production, distribution, price-points and marketing. Such an enriched 'fabric' will be referred to throughout this paper as the cultural economy of wine. It will be argued that the Australian wine industry, as a case study, must not only reconfigure its operational structure to reflect these qualities, but must change the way it thinks collectively about its product if it is to remain competitive in an increasingly complex environment.
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