Hunter may join network of “wine capitals”

HUNTER Valley wine country could become part of a network of the world’s ‘‘great wine capitals’’, which include Bordeaux, Cape Town and the Napa Valley.

Cessnock City councillors voted last night to explore joining the network and consider those areas for a possible sister-city relationship.

Any such connection will come at a cost to ratepayers, but the council believes such spending could provide economic, social and cultural returns to the city.

A council report said the first year of an international sister-city relationship would ‘‘require a minimum of $20,000’’, but more money could be required.

Wine cities in the network are: Bilbao, Spain; Bordeaux, France; Cape Town, South Africa; Florence, Italy; Christchurch, New Zealand; Mainz, Germany; Mendoza, Argentina; Porto, Portugal; and Napa Valley, United States.

‘‘Great Wine Capitals is a network of major global cities in the northern and southern hemispheres, which share a key economic and cultural asset in their internationally renowned wine regions,’’ the report said.

‘‘It aims to encourage travel, education and business exchanges between the prestigious wine regions.’’

The council would consider joining the network to ‘‘foster better global industry relations, collaborative marketing and promotion, opportunities to enhance knowledge, cultural influence and skills’’.

It would assess each of the cities to ‘‘identify key synergies for a possible sister city relationship’’.

‘‘The Hunter Valley is Australia’s oldest surviving and world renowned wine destination,’’ the report said.

Cr Morgan Campbell said the ideas should be explored.

‘‘It would be a wonderful thing if Cessnock could be known as Australia’s wine capital,’’ Cr Campbell said.

Cr Cordelia Burcham said, somewhat in jest, that if a Bordeaux link was made ‘‘I’d like to volunteer up front’’.

The report concluded that sister city affiliations ‘‘create positive social, cultural and economic outcomes if effectively established, maintained and resourced appropriately’’.

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SOON: The Hunter Valley could be part of a network of great wine capitals like Bordeaux and Florence.