Naked Wines, a direct wine-to-consumer business, has announced a $5 Million Rescue Fund and a number of public commitments to help support quality Australian independent winemakers who are set to take the hardest hit from China’s sudden and hefty wine tariff hikes.
The company, which connects Australia’s best independent winemakers to more than 100,000 Australian wine drinkers, called on winemakers, retailers and consumers to unite to ‘Stop the Squeeze’ on Australia’s independent winemaking community, and announced a new fund and commitments to support quality local independent winemakers and growers.
Managing director of Naked Wines Australia, Alicia Kennedy, said around 15 per cent of Naked Wines’ local independent winemakers – plus a much larger ecosystem of growers, bottlers, employees and community – would be affected by China’s tariff hikes, with Australia’s independent winemakers likely to be the most impacted yet least resourced to endure the struggles ahead.
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“With the China tariffs story quickly developing, we are hearing first-hand from Naked’s community – and other winemakers around Australia – about the potentially crippling challenges they are facing,” Kennedy said. “Australia’s independent winemakers have been caught between a rock and a hard place with the sudden tariff hikes of up to 212 per cent on top of an already tough year. The reality is that winemakers reliant on traditional channels are going to suffer the most over the next 12 to 18 months.
“For the smaller winemakers and grape growers, there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty around their future; they have committed to vintage and invested upfront, and they’re understandably very concerned they’ll be driven to the wall by retailers dropping or bartering down their contracts to take advantage of cheaper sources. Unfortunately for some, this is already happening.
“Unlike the bigger winemakers, many of Australia’s independent winemakers don’t have the balance sheets needed to pay the tariffs or to hold their wine in storage for future years when there will be less flowback supply into the market. This will place deflationary pressure on the prices of their grapes and wine – taking advantage of their vulnerability and leaving them holding wine and fruit from dropped contracts and commitments.
“There is a very real danger that many local winemakers will become collateral damage in this situation and be left without a leg to stand on. As an industry and as a nation, we need to band together now to ‘Stop the Squeeze’ on Australia’s wonderful community of independent winemakers – a large portion of whom exist in heartland regional Australia,” Kennedy said.
Winemakers can go to www.nakedwines.com.au/stopthesqueeze to apply to the fund and must meet the following criteria to be considered:
- Be an independent wine producer or winemaker
- Display a proven track record of quality
- Show evidence of the impact China’s wine tariffs have had
- Clear any importer/agent exclusivity arrangements first