What's everyone drinking? Australia's most popular wines revealed
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What’s everyone drinking? Australia’s most popular wines revealed

Want to impress your guests this New Year’s Eve? Pick a top 50 wine so that the best wine is the one you share with friends

By Robyn Willis
Sat, Dec 23, 2023 7:00amGrey Clock 3 min

Australians love a good drop, especially at this time of year — and especially when it’s home grown. According to government statutory corporation, Wine Australia, there are more than 2150 wineries across 65 winegrowing regions around the country, representing about 6000 grapegrowers.

Just in time for the new year, wine storage provider, Wine Ark, has released its most collected wines of 2023

Shiraz was the most collected variety, followed by Chardonnay, but for single wines, Penfolds Grange topped the list. 

Keeper of Bottles at Wine Ark, John Cuff, said the Penfolds Grange was a hard wine to topple from the top spot.

“This is the second edition in a row that sees Penfolds Grange be the most collected wine in Australia, which is also one of the country’s most expensive wines, again emphasising the importance of this iconic wine to Australian wine collectors,” he said.

Penfolds Grange also represented reliability for collectors, he said, both in terms of drinkability — and investment.

“In relation to investment, I would say that historically Penfolds wines have held their value very well,” Mr Cuff said. “When they approach their drinking window, if you were to look to exit the wine, then yes, you could make some money on it.” 

While many of the wines in the top 10 such as Wynns Coonawarra Estate and the Leeuwin Estate Art Series would be familiar to wine lovers, Mr Cuff said lesser known cooler climate wines including Mount Mary, Tolpuddle and Crawford River were gaining ground. The Tolpuddle Vineyard Chardonnay gained 66 places to break into the top 50 while Crawford River Riesling rose 59 places.

John Cuff and the top 10 wines

Mr Cuff said while warmer climate wines would remain popular, especially among those starting their wine collecting journey, more people are beginning to appreciate the merits of cooler climate wines.  

“When people start their collecting journey traditionally they are either guided towards, or believe they should start with, the more popular regions such as the Barossa valley,” he said. “We all know that wines from the Barossa are brilliant and provide people with a glass of forward, flavoursome, rich wine that appeals to new wine buyers and collectors alike. 

“Wines from cooler climates have a lovely angular acid line, elegant tannins and, traditionally, have lower alcohol than warmer climate wines. They also match our current food styles and climate very well. 

“In saying that I do love a big steak and glass of heavy red!”

Given more than half of Australia’s wineries are based in South Australia, it’s perhaps no surprise to learn wines from the state are also the most popular with collectors. The Barossa Valley was the most popular by region, followed by the Hunter Valley in NSW.

Wine Ark Tasting Room. John Cuff recommends to buy what you enjoy drinking, even if it’s for investment.

For those looking to restock their cellar or start collecting in 2024, Mr Cuff’s advice is simple: collect what you enjoy drinking.

“There is no use buying Coonawarra Cabernet for an investment if you don’t like Cabernet,” he said. “Worse case, if you can’t sell it, you can drink it.”

His tips for good Australian tipples include Margaret River Cabernet and Chardonnay, Yarra Valley Cabernet, Tasmanian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, single vineyard McLaren Vale Grenache and Shiraz from the “new” Barossa.

Here’s cheers.



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Only 5% of U.S. Foundations Invest for Impact, Study Finds
By ABBY SCHULTZ
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Few of the U.S.’s philanthropic foundations invest their endowment assets—totalling an estimated US$1.1 trillion—to create positive social and environmental change in addition to high returns, potentially limiting or even counteracting the good such organisations do.

Exactly how few isn’t precisely known. But Bridgespan Social Impact, a subsidiary of the New York-based Bridgespan Group along with the Capricorn Investment Group, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based investment firm founded by Jeff Skoll , the first president of eBay, and the Skoll Foundation, also in Palo Alto, attempted to “get the conservation started,” with a study of 65 foundations with a total of about US$89 billion in assets, according to Mandira Reddy, director at Capricorn Investment Group.

The top-line conclusion: 5% of the primarily U.S.-based foundations surveyed invest their assets for impact. Most surprising is that 92% of these organisations, which have assets ranging from US$11 million to US$16 billion, are active members of impact investing groups, such as the Global Impact Investing Network and Mission Investors Exchange.

“If there’s any pool of capital that is best suited for impact investing, it would be this pool of capital along with family office money,” Reddy says.

The study was also conducted “to draw attention to the opportunity,” she said.

“We want to redefine what philanthropy can achieve. There is massive potential here just given the scale of capital.”

Foundations are required by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to grant 5% of their assets each year to charity; in practice they have granted slightly more in the last 10 years—an average of 7% of their assets, according to Delaware-based FoundationMark, which tracks the investment performance of about 97% of all foundation assets.

The remaining assets of these foundations are invested with the intention of earning the “highest-possible risk-adjusted financial returns,” the report said. Those investments allow these organizations to grant funds often in perpetuity.

Capricorn and Bridgespan argue that more foundations, however, need to “align their capital with their missions,” and that they can do so while still achieving high returns.

“Why wait to distribute resources far into the future when there are numerous urgent issues facing the planet and communities today,” argue the authors of a report on the research, which is titled, “Can Foundation Endowments Achieve Greater Impact.”

The fact most of the foundations surveyed are very familiar with impact investing and yet haven’t taken the leap “highlights the persistently untapped opportunity,” the report said. It details some of the barriers foundations can face in shifting to impact, and how and why to overcome them.

Hurdles to making a shift can include “beginner’s dilemma”—simply not knowing where to start—and a misperception on the part of large foundations that impact investing is “too niche,” offering opportunities that are too small for the amount of capital they need to allocate. Other foundations are too stretched and don’t have the resources to add capabilities for making impact investments, the report said.

One of the biggest concerns is financial performance. Some foundation leaders, for instance, worry impact investments lead to so-called concessionary returns, where a market rate of return is sacrificed to achieve a social or environmental benefit. Those investments exist, but there are also plenty of options that offer financial returns.

The authors make a case for foundations to “go big,” into impact to realize the best outcomes, and to take a portfolio approach, meaning integrating impact principles into how they approach all investments. To make this happen, foundations need to incorporate impact into their investment policy statements, which determine how they allocate assets.

It will be difficult for foundations that want to shift their assets to impact to pull out of investments such as private-equity or venture-capital funds that can have holdings periods of a decade. But with a policy statement in place, a foundation’s investment team can reinvest this long-term capital once it is returned into impact investing options, she says.

“The transition doesn’t happen overnight,” Reddy says. “Even if there is a commitment for an established foundation that is already fully invested, it takes several years to get there.”

The Skoll Foundation, established in 1999, revised its investment policy statement in 2006 to incorporate impact. According to the report, the foundation initially divested of investments that were not in sync with its values, and then gradually, working with Capricorn Investment, began exploring impact opportunities mostly in early-stage companies developing solutions to climate change.

“As the team gained more knowledge and experience in this work, and as more investment opportunities arose, the impact-aligned portfolio expanded across different asset classes, issue areas, and fund managers,” the report said.

As of 2022, 70% of the Skoll Foundation’s assets are in impact investments addressing climate change, inclusive capitalism, health and wellness, and sustainable markets.

Capricorn, which manages US$9 billion for foundations and institutional investors through impact investments, constructs portfolios across asset classes. In private markets, this can include venture, private equity, private credit, real estate, and infrastructure. There are also impact options in the public markets, in both stocks and bonds.

“Across the spectrum there are opportunities available now to do this in an authentic manner while preserving financial goals,” Reddy says.

Of the foundations surveyed, about 15, including Skoll, have 50% or more of their assets invested for impact. Others include the Lora & Martin Kelley Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Russell Family Foundation, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.

Though not part of the study, the California Endowment just announced it was going “all in” on impact. The organisation has US$4 billion in assets under management, which likely makes it the largest foundation to undergo the shift, according to Mission Investors Exchange.

Although the researchers looked at a fairly small sample set of foundations, Reddy says it provides data “that is indicative of what the foundation universe” might look like.

“We cannot tell foundations how to invest and that’s not the intent, but we do want to spread the message that it is quite possible to align their assets to impact,” she says. “The idea is that this becomes a boardroom conversation.”

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