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Australian Vintage questions Wine Australia strategy
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Leading Australian wine producer Australian Vintage has questioned the strategic direction of the country’s generic marketing campaign and is considering withdrawing its financial support for Wine Australia. The move is in response to Wine Australia’s continued focus on the regionality message rather than style.
Commenting on the development, Paul Schaafsma, Australian Vintage general manager UK and Europe said: “Fundamentally, we believe the focus should be on style rather than regionality. As an industry, Australia is evolving and developing more appropriate wine styles to meet the ever-changing demands of the market. Stylistically, Australian wine is no longer about big, alcoholic, fat buttery Chardonnays with lashings of oak – it has changed, and this is the message Wine Australia should be communicating".
"Yes, regionality is important to the long-term sustainability of the Australian industry, and we do recognise that the premium wine drinker may find regionality of interest, however this is a very narrow segment of the market. At this point in time we need to be engaging with a broader audience of consumer and get back to what has endeared the UK to Australian wine – consistency, value and flavour. Australian wine still delivers these key reference points, but has evolved in style. Essentially, we think Wine Australia’s regionality strategy is flawed and is not focusing on the right message. As a result, we are reviewing our support of the generic campaign.
"Australian Vintage has recognised the need to continually review the style of wine we produce to ensure we deliver appropriate and relevant wines for the global market. To that end, we have invested in new varietals such as Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, in addition to evolving the style of varieties such as Chardonnay and Shiraz. This shift-change is evident across the entire portfolio, from the volume level wines through to the more premium positioned wines,” Schaafsma said.
This stylistic approach has been vindicated with Australian Vintage sweeping the board at the recent International Wine Challenge and Decanter World Wine Awards, winning no less than six high profile trophies and a host of gold and silver medals. In addition, chief winemaker Neil McGuigan was recently shortlisted for International Wine Challenge White Winemaker of the Year. In total, the Australian Vintage portfolio was awarded over sixty prominent trophies and medals across the two competitions.