Tokar Estate, a Yarra Valley winery, has released a 2021 Pét Nat, the first of its kind from the producer. The aim was to produce a natural wine that was youthful, vibrant, and fun to drink just in time for spring. Read more
The Calabria family has launched the Calabria Family Wine Group, signifying a new era for the Griffith-based family winery. Read more
When it comes to diet, most people know what constitutes healthy eating choices, but with a lack of information and transparency around the nutritional content and ingredients in winemaking and viticulture, consumers are left in the dark when it comes to informed choices around wine consumption.
Following China’s November announcement that Australian wine imports would be subject to a massive 200 per cent import tariff one winery decided it was time to target a different market altogether.
The Sydney International Wine Competition will return after last year’s cancellation with entries open from 12 of July and judging occurring late October. Award and trophy winners will be announced on the 8 of November 2021.
PhD student, Anne Johnston, is the recipient of Wine Australia’s Dr Tony Jordan OAM Award 2021.
Her research will explore agroecology – the use of nature’s ecosystem services in farming practices – in Australian viticulture and the obstacles that stand in the way of its adoption.
The Australian wine sector is projected to grow from A$11.3bn (US$7.9bn) in 2019 to A$12.7bn (US$8.7bn) in 2024, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.4 per cent, says GlobalData, a data and analytics company.
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.
Calabria Family Wines is continuing to expand its distribution portfolio with the recent addition of Dow’s Port, owned by the Symington family.
The International Wine Challenge, the world’s most influential and rigorously judged wine competition, has announced its 30 best wines from around the world.
The winners of the 2020 Australian Women in Wine Awards have been announced via a live, celebration filled broadcast, which brought much-needed laughs this year too – thanks to the involvement of one Australia’s favourite comedians.
Three Victorian wineries are putting aside traditional rivalries to help each other recover from the coronavirus.
And they’re using award-winning wines and food, nature, and the relatively low profile of
the region as their biggest drawcards.
Tahbilk, Fowles, and Mitchelton — three, five-star rated wineries, located in the Strathbogie
Shire, approximately 90 minutes north of Melbourne — have been hit hard by border closures and Melbourne’s recent ‘ring of steel’, which separated regional Victoria from metropolitan Melbourne:
• The historic Tahbilk Winery is Victoria’s oldest winery situated on the banks of the Goulburn River. Once referred to by the first people as ‘tabilk-tabilk’ (or the ‘place of many waterholes’), Tahbilk is a carbon neutral winery nestled among river flats and kilometres of backwaters, creeks, and walking trails.
• Just up the road, also fronting Victoria’s longest river, is Mitchelton Wines, a mid-century architectural masterpiece, which has been recently updated to include the iconic Ashton Tower, overlooking the Goulburn River and ranges, award winning cellar door, 58 room hotel, restaurant, major events, and one of Australia’s largest Aboriginal art galleries.
• Fowles Wine is the relatively new kid on the block – a five-star winery and farm located in the small township of Avenel, a short drive from the other two wineries. Fowles has also invested in its future, opening a new cellar door and renovating its restaurant, drawing on inspiration from the quintessential Aussie shed and majestic views of the Strathbogie Ranges.
“Each winery is completely different. Yet, by coming together, we offer the chance for guests to experience the best of the Victorian wine industry in a day. This is a great opportunity for people who want real, authentic experiences,” according to Fowles Wine owner Matt Fowles.
Like most businesses in the region, Tahbilk, Fowles, and Mitchelton depend upon holiday makers and daytrippers using the Hume Highway, which completely dried up as a source of tourism in 2020. But now the renowned Shiraz and Riesling producers are fighting back, using the region’s natural hidden gems, and relatively low tourism profile, as part of a new campaign to secure their share of Victoria’s $10bn regional tourism market.
“Relatively little-known wine regions and townships, like nearby Nagambie and Avenel, now have a fighting chance to compete with better-known visitor destinations because of the virus,” Fowles said.
Tahbilk CEO Alister Purbrick said there were about 4.4 million people visiting and spending money in regional Victoria every month in 2019.
“That’s a lot of visitors, even before the pandemic begun, and that gives us a lot of heart to make a serious comeback from the ravage of this pandemic,” he said.
With Victoria’s regional tourism boom expected to go deep into next year, Mr Purbrick said it made sense for the three wineries to band together to offer an attractive alternative to the regular touristy spots.
“In the coming months, we expect to see a surge in visitors from Melbourne, within the region, and even interstate, looking for places to visit and explore, which are different, unexpected, and safe.
“People will still want to have a great food and wine experience in a beautiful regional setting. But, post-lockdown, they will also want to be able to stretch out, breathe, feel safe, and be totally free from the hassle of queues and crowds, which is exactly what we are offering,” Purbrick said.
Chief winemaker at Mitchelton, Andrew Santarossa, said the Take Nature’s Road Trip campaign exploited the fact the region is not always top-of-mind, or on the ‘map’, for most day-trippers.
“For us, this has become one of our greatest strengths as we don’t have the same crowds, or traffic problems, which other more frequented regional wine destinations are likely to encounter this coming summer.
“But what we do have is an amazing natural setting boasting some of Victoria’s best wineries and dining, wide-open spaces, the Goulburn River and Ranges, bush trails and billabongs, and friendly smiles,” Santarossa said.
While many areas of Australia’s economy are struggling under the weight of COVID, one local business is pushing forward with export growth across Europe and Canada.
Headquartered in McLaren Vale, Leconfield Wines is Australia’s oldest family-owned winemaking business. Owned by Dr Richard Hamilton and his wife, Jette, Hamilton is a fifth generation descendant of Richard Hamilton 1st who planted South Australia’s first wine producing vineyards in 1837. Leconfield Wines takes in Leconfield Wines in Coonawarra and Richard Hamilton Wines in McLaren Vale. Its brands include Leconfield, Richard Hamilton Wines and Syn Sparkling Wines.
Leconfield has a history of producing top-quality, award-winning wines. Its wines are sold across Australia, overseas and also served aboard Jetstar business class and on Great Southern Rail trains including The Ghan, Indian Pacific, Great Southern and The Overland.
“COVID has been challenging for us. As winemakers that sell our products direct to consumers through our membership and into restaurants and other hospitality outlets across the country, sales have been hit through the closure of venues. The latest lock down in Victoria is particularly challenging,” Hamilton said.
“We have also experienced mixed results overseas with some markets including China reducing spend.
“However in the face of this, we have also risen to the challenge. We have restructured to focus on building collaborative partnerships and foster growth in other overseas markets, and these strategies are already starting to yield great results.
“Damian White has been appointed to the newly created role of Sales and Marketing Director. He is firmly focused on expansion of our international market, alongside our valued domestic and online platform partners. Christine Says has been appointed to the role of CFO to help manage the complexities of our burgeoning overseas markets to ensure strong growth and firm cost control.
“The recent decision by Canada to remove tariffs on the import of Australian wines has also opened up new opportunities for us too.”
Leconfield has been approved for distribution and sale in three Canadian provinces: Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec.
“We are extremely excited about this and are looking to augment our presence to other provinces as well,” Hamilton added.
“In addition to Canada, we have secured new opportunities in Finland and Belgium. In Belgium, we have partnered with Belgian food retailer, Delhaize, to supply a private label Coonawarra Shiraz under the name of Dalebrook Farm. We are already in talks regarding line extensions. This opportunity and various other emerging ones are really proving very positive for us moving forward.
“Our senior winemaker, Paul Gordon is doing an excellent job of creating new and exciting wines from our vineyards. His ability to craft, blend and perfect is delivering superb results for us and really bolstering our ability to continually impress the market with wonderful wines.
“Kate Mooney, our marketing and events manager, who has been with us for nearly seven years, is hard at work refreshing and developing our labels and packaging to ensure we stand out on shelves, catalogues and online sites.
“Despite the challenges we are facing here at home, we are determined to achieve growth. We’ve been through droughts, the Spanish Flu, world wards, the great depression, recessions, the GFC and now COVID. You could say ‘we are battle hardened’ and we are not about to let a virus dampen our prospects. We are all in this together, and certainly at Leconfield Wines, we are determined to get through to the other side.
“We are very lucky. At the end of the day, we can sit back and relax with a good drop. One of the benefits of winemaking.”
Calabria Family Wines has acquired the Australian distribution business of Italian prosecco brand, Canti.
The deal sees the family-owned winery take over the Australian import, sales, and marketing of the family-owned and operated Canti from Accolade Wines.
As a third-generation Italian-Australian wine business, Calabria Family Wines hopes to bring Canti’s distinct Italian flair and style to the booming prosecco market in Australia.
“This is our first shot into the distribution of wines outside of the Calabria Family Wines brand and we can’t think of a better business to be working with than Canti,” third-generation Sales & Marketing Manager Andrew Calabria said.
“We’ve had great success in the category with our own branded products. We first planted prosecco in the Riverina in 2013 and were the first Australian winery to launch a prosecco spritz in the domestic market with our Bevi range. We have also been importing an Italian Prosecco DOC since 2011 under our Calabria Private Bin range.
“Welcoming Canti to the Calabria portfolio is a natural progression for us to grow our footprint in the category and gives us exciting opportunities to expand our network and customer relationships,” Calabria said.
Canti was first introduced in 2001 by founder Gianni Martini, the renowned second-generation wine entrepreneur of the Fratelli Martini Secondo Luigi spa – one of the largest Italian family-run winemakers founded in 1947. Canti was introduced in the UK market in 2002 and since then has grown its distribution to more than 50 countries.
In 2016, Canti was the best-selling prosecco brand in the world, selling around 12 million bottles. In 2017 it increased its sales to 20 million bottles.
“We see tremendous potential in partnering with the Calabria family in Australia. Like us, they are a multi-generational family business, with a rich Italian heritage. Their understanding of the market and the category gives us confidence that Canti will continue its global success as a leading prosecco label,” Canti’s Gianni Martini said.
“Canti is simply more than an Italian prosecco, it’s a celebration of the Italian spirit which Australians have come to love and appreciate through cuisine, travel and style. We look forward to a long and exciting partnership in this market with the Calabria family.”
Calabria Family Wines will initially focus on a core portfolio of the Canti Prosecco D.O.C. Millesimato 750ml and 200ml format and the brand’s new Canti Prosecco D.O.C. Bio Organic. Calabria Family Wines is looking to introduce more wines in the Canti range to Australia, including its Estate Barbera D’Asti and Estate Pinot Grigio.
“Canti currently has a strong on premise footprint in Australia, which we will continue to grow as we also look to expand the brand’s retail presence. Our goal is to open up the entire Canti portfolio in Australia as the wines are exceptional and reflect truly great Italian winemaking,” Calabria said.
Producing wines since its first 1980 vintage, St Hugo’s Fine and Rare Collection is a series of back vintage Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon that has been released to showcase the longevity and complexity that is gained by these fine wines with extended cellaring.
Stored in monitored conditions at the St Hugo winery in the Barossa, these back vintage wines from 1998, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 have been hand selected after tasting and review by the chief winemaker, Peter Munro before consideration for re-release.
“The 1998 St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon is a mature wine from a vintage that is still displaying primary blackcurrant flavours twenty years on. While the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 are examples expressing the individual vintage conditions and will continue to develop further complexity over the coming decade,” said St Hugo chief winemaker Peter Munro.
With Australian barley and beef already in the sights of the Chinese government, Beijing is now turning its eyes towards Australian wine as it opens up an investigation into whether or not Australian vintners deliberately dumped cheap wine into the Chinese market.
Tensions are running high between Canberra and Beijing as the Australian government starts flexing its muscle of Chinese incursions into the busy commercial water ways of the South China Sea.
In 2019, the value of wine exports to China were valued at just over $1.2 billion, and with the devastating bush fire season and COVID-19 taking hold, a lot of vineyards will be anxiously awaiting the outcome of the investigation.
In a statement, local vintner association Australian Grape & Wine, has taken a conciliatory approach.
“Australian Grape & Wine is aware of the request by the Chinese industry to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFOCM) to launch an anti-dumping investigation on Australian wine in China,” said Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Australian Grape & Wine.
“We believe that the Australian grape and wine sector is well placed to respond to this investigation and Australian Grape & Wine and our exporting companies will cooperate fully.
“China is an important market for Australian wine and our wine is in demand from Chinese consumers.
“Australia has a large number of exporters with close cultural ties to China. The Australian industry welcomes the opportunity to build on these ties and work with the Chinese industry and government to further technical cooperation and develop lasting relationships.”
Speaking to the ABC, Victorian wine expert, James Hall, said, on average, a bottle of Australian wine in China costs three time as much as the locally-produced counterpart, with many in the Australian industry believing this more of a political than trade issue.
Calabria Family Wines has unveiled a new look for its Calabria Richland series. In 1929, Calabria Family Wines’ founder Francesco Calabria boarded the Regina D’Italia ship in Italy bound for Australia in search of a better life. Francesco would often write letters to his wife and son, who remained in Italy until Francesco could establish a new life for them, describing Australia as a ‘Rich Land’ with layered landscapes, Mediterranean climate, fertile soils and deep blue waters.
The new-look Calabria Richland takes inspiration from this origin story, paying homage to Francesco’s letters describing Australia’s ‘Rich Land’ in a fresh, modern way.
A bouquet of colour is introduced across the portfolio as each variety incorporates a unique colour for each variety. The colour profile continues, with a distinct layer design reminiscent of Francesco’s ‘Rich Land’ descriptions finishing the bottom of the label.
COVID-19 restrictions have shattered the on-premise market for wine sales in the United States – Australia’s second largest export market by volume – resulting in lower total wine sales and significant revenue losses for some US wineries, according to the latest Rabobank Wine Quarterly report.
Over March and April 2020 combined, there was an estimated USD47 billion, year-on-year reduction in total sales in US foodservice and drinking establishment channels as restrictions set in.
And with sales in full-service restaurants and bars not likely to return to 2019 levels until after 2021, the Q2 report, titled ‘COVID -19 and the US premium wine market Part 1’, highlights that wine producers selling into the US market would need to find new ways of engaging consumers in the future.
Rabobank senior wine analyst, Hayden Higgins, said total sales for US food service and drinking establishments for the first four months of 2020 were down an estimated USD68 billion, or 22 per cent.
“For wine sales, the percentage drop in the on-premise channel will be even higher, given these are more heavily reliant on full-service bars and restaurants, which performed even more poorly than limited-service restaurants,” he said.
Higgins said the US on-premise wine sales channel was comparatively small in volume terms, but important for access and margins.
“The on-premise channel typically accounts for less than 20 per cent of annual wine sales in the United States, but it’s extremely important, particularly for small, premium wine brands which sell a greater proportion of their product into restaurants and bars,” he said.
Australian wine export figures reflected the premiumisation trend for wine in the US, and Australia’s efforts to capture more of this market.
While exports of Australian wine to the US for the year ended March 2020 were down 11 per cent by volume, they were only two per cent lower by FOB value in AUD terms – suggesting product was directed at the premium market.
And despite the drop in total Australian wine export volumes to the US, Higgins said Wine Australia reported that the average price per litre rose to the highest levels since August 2009.
The report said, barring a vaccine, the on-premise US wine sale channel would likely take years to recover.
“Between government enforcement of social distancing measures, consumer reluctance to return on premise due to fears of contagion, and reduced business and tourism travel, many bars and restaurants may be forced to permanently shut their doors unless a vaccine is made available sooner than most experts expect,” Higgins said.
“Given these, and other, challenges, it’s anticipated the US foodservice industry will likely not return to 2019 levels until after 2021, and that the recovery would be led by limited-service restaurants and take-out/delivery, where there is less consumption of premium wines.”
He said larger wholesalers who had a greater proportion of sales in the off-premise, as well as more financial muscle, should be better placed to withstand these challenges.
Higgins said the US alcoholic beverage market’s three-tier system was particularly challenging for smaller wine brands.
“The US alcoholic beverage market operates under a three-tier system made up of manufacturers in the first tier, a second tier comprised of importers, distributors or wholesalers who purchase the product from the manufacturer, and a third tier of retailers,” he said.
“Under this system, producers are unable to sell directly to US consumers. It’s therefore essential brands work closely with their US distributors – who are in regular dialogue with retailers – so they can better understand changes in the way US consumers are purchasing wine.”
Implications for Australian winemakers
With the on-premise channel in the US struggling, Higgins said Australian wine brands would need to consider how their distributors were currently working with retailers, and also planning for future channel changes in the way consumers purchase wines.
For Australian producers vying for share in the US market, he said, digital strategies will become increasingly critical for sales success.
“While the on-premise sales are currently facing monumental challenges, the growth in e-commerce has been well-documented, and will provide an important opportunity for wineries seeking alternative growth strategies – both in the US, Australia and other markets,” Higgins said.
“We’re already seeing this process well underway in Australia, as wineries try to offset the decline in tasting room sales with e-commerce.
“Beverage companies are finding new, innovative ways to connect with consumers wherever they are, in a digital environment and to help drive sales across channels.”
For Australian wine exporters, Mr Higgins said, considering how e-commerce at the retail level and connecting to the US consumer would evolve – and how distribution partners were preparing for this – should be a core component of discussions, and were relevant conversations for other markets beyond the US.
“These questions include how they think about e-commerce within the organisation, whether they should buy or build an e-commerce team and where it should sit within the organisation.”
Higgins said Tsingtao, the Chinese beer company, provided one recent example of a beverages company that has used e-commerce to increase sales.
“Tsingtao used lockdown measures in China as an opportunity to further create a network of ‘community distributors’ – essentially social media influencers working on commission – that has been extremely successful by a number of measures,” he said.
A start-up, with a new augmented reality platform, has put out a call for investors from the wine, food & beverages, and packaging industries to back its funding round.
Winerytale has opened its Public CSF Share Issue Offer, seeking to raise up to $US1.25M to roll out its much-anticipated platform to wine markets in Australia, USA, New Zealand, and South Africa.
The Winerytale app, purpose built for a young adult audience, encourages users to discover the story behind each wine, which is brought to life with stunning augmented reality.
The ground-breaking concept, which also combines multimedia content, virtual interaction, and social media sharing is widely expected to capture the challenging millennials wine market.
Winerytale founding partner, Dave Chaffey, said the response to the App had been positive.
“It’s an exciting concept that consumers have absolutely taken a shining to,” he said.
“The next step for us is to make it accessible to a much larger audience.”
According to Chaffey, the Capital Raise would fund an aggressive rollout to key markets.
“There’s an enormous opportunity that we intend to capture. Raising capital enables us to move rapidly into new markets, to win over audiences before the first lot of competitors arrive on the scene.”
Despite the promising outlook, Chaffey is aware that raising funds during a global pandemic will be a challenge.
“We’ve already been bitten”, he said, “early this year, talks with two potential financiers were well advanced – then in March it all just stopped. It was the start of the pandemic, everyone was panicking. It was a time to lock down. It was just one of those things.”
Chaffey is keen to avoid a repeat, for one reason – it slows down his company’s move to market.
“A rapid roll out delivers a tremendous commercial advantage, and provides a robust foundation for growth,” he said. “This is why we’re calling on investment from within – from people established in, and around the wine industry, food & beverages, and even packaging industries. We make no secret of our ambitions to capture an emerging global market.”