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Tough times make better wines at Zilzie

As Andrew Forbes, managing director of Zilzie Wines, reflects on a successful 2007 he looks to the year ahead with optimism, enthusiasm and bit of good old Aussie fighting spirit.

Despite challenging conditions, 2007 was one of Zilzie’s most successful years in its history with a swag of wine show awards and a full folder of glowing media write ups.

As a fourth generation family member managing the Karadoc based winery and vineyards, Andrew looks to his family, who have seen it all before him for advice through tough times.

“The drought brings challenges to everyone in this industry but what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger,” he said.

“My grandfather had his 90th birthday just a few months ago and I was asking how he would approach the current tough industry conditions. He said, ‘You never know how hard you’ve had it until you look back on what you’ve done’.”

Amid the one in 100 year drought and the ever increasing tough retail market, Andrew believes that good relationships with growers, innovation in the vineyard, team ethos and new technologies in the winery have all led to the highest quality and most consistent wines Zilzie has ever produced.

“Drought conditions have forced us to manage application of water more effectively and close monitoring of vigour and vintage timing have led to a change in mind set in the vineyard and tasting bench – less tonnage with much higher quality fruit. The wines are outstanding.

“Our winemaking team has taken responsibility for wine quality and we have encouraged them to research, taste and talk about pushing barriers. We have sent them all to wine show tastings around the country to bring back knowledge and ideas. We have a weekly tasting of many different wines around the winemakers bench. It’s important to look at competitors,” he said.

“We are also introducing regional parcels of fruit to enhance our wines. We are using Barossa Shiraz, Coonawarra Cabernet and Wrattonbully Merlot, we figure that these regions do it best, why not add this value to our wines.

“Many people are sceptical about multi regional wines but I have always thought that some of the most renowned Australian chefs use the best ingredients from all over the country to make sure the dish they cook is of the highest authentic quality, why wouldn’t we think along those same lines?” he said. The results speak for themselves. Almost the entire Zilzie portfolio has received accolades this year. For example, the 2005 Zilzie Chardonnay, a $15 wine, was named a finalist of the 2007 Winestate Wine of the Year Awards alongside super premium price point wines.

Andrew looks ahead to 2008 with plenty of optimism and believes that great results can still be achieved in tough times.

“We’re a fourth generation company. A drought won’t stop people like us. The true wine companies that have been around for a while just keep on boxing, it’s the good old Aussie spirit.”



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