City sellers

City sellers

As Francis Boon was once quoted, 'If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain,' so too rings true for wineries and their customers.
An increasing number of wine producers are packing their wares and setting themselves up in capital cities to gain better brand exposure and access to market.
Several cellar doors have either relocated or opened over the past three years in Adelaide alone, including Tomich Wines, in Unley, Salena Estate, in Paradise, Tidswell Wines, in Norwood and Amadio Wines, in Felixstow.
According to Dr Steve Goodman, senior marketing lecturer at the University of Adelaide, the idea is seemingly consistent: why wait?
'If you have a million people in Adelaide and 25,000 people visit Clare each year, then why wait? Why not come to the city and try to talk to 500,000 people?' Goodman said.
'Opening up in the city offers wineries that might not be able to get their wines stocked in Dan Murphy's an opportunity to sell direct. The more people who see a brand in the marketplace, the more likely they will buy that brand when they're making a purchase.'
Of course, establishing a cellar door in a city is not for everyone. The cost of setting up in a city and overcoming liquor licensing hurdles can be prohibitive.
Such was the case for McLaren Vale winery Aramis Vineyards. Owner Lee Flourentzou had big ambitions for his brand when he opened up a cellar door restaurant called Spoon, on Gouger Street, in the heart of Adelaide's China Town.
The idea was to bring the Aramis experience to people in the city which, according to Flourentzou, it did.
'From a marketing perspective, I got great exposure, excellent reviews and I managed to pick up some business from overseas,' he said.
But the business was unsustainable. Flourentzou reflects on the venture and believes he was ahead of his time for Adelaide, describing the crowd as conservative at the time. He made the decision in December last year to pack up, ditch the restaurant and relocate the cellar door to Mile End, about 10 minutes west of the city.
'It's a great concept, but a lot of the time it costs money and has no return. If I were to do it again, I'd be very cautious about where I'd put it.'
But it's not just individual producers having a crack at the cityscape. Winemakers are increasingly banding together and creating unique consumer and trade-focused events to promote their wines and region. At the end of the day, the bill is equally split.
New Generation Hunter Valley is a prime example. Started by Thomas Wines winemaker Andrew Thomas in 2009, New Generation Hunter Valley is Thomas (or 'Thommo'), Nick Paterson, of Dogliani Winemaking, Mike De Iuliis, of De Iuliis Wines, Andrew Margan, of Margan Wines, David Hook, of David Hook Wines and Rhys Eather, of
Meerea Park.
Known for their quirky secret 'pop up' wine bars, where the location is only disclosed at the last minute, the New Gen boys have gained a reputation, not only for their wines, but for their unusual approach to marketing wine.
'When people think of the Hunter they often think of the big family-owned companies. We wanted to present ourselves in a less serious light because we're not the usual suspects,' Thommo said.
'People often associate wine tastings with snobbery. But we have light music going and a relaxed, fun atmosphere where people can taste 20-25 wines. The take-home message is that while we're serious about our wines, we don't take the whole thing too seriously. And that's why people like it.'
Thommo estimates membership in Thomas Wines alone has jumped about 20 per cent since New Gen was founded in 2009, along with some reasonably good sales.
'At end of day, the region as a whole will benefit from us getting the message out there. The other good thing about having six brands is that you're sharing the costs.'
Goodman says small producers would benefit from a cooperative approach.
'With the pressure in trying to find route to markets, that's where the whole idea of a cooperative approach actually has merit,' he said.
Wine associations are another example of this cooperative approach. Wine Tasmania brought a whole bunch of its producers to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane last month as part of Tasmania Unbottled - a consumer and
trade-focused event that aims to promote the quality and diversity of Tassie wines.
'With Tasmania Unbottled, we aim to promote the region as a whole and to facilitate opportunities for our wineries to get sales both to trade and also directly to consumers,' Wine Tasmania CEO Sheralee Davies said.
'If a wine producer is going to a city and trying to make appointments with trade, it's an overtly commercial approach whereas if we go as a group it's a softer approach so the trade doesn't feel as much pressure.'
Davies says a trend of wineries to hone in on their target market is emerging.
'As an industry we're getting a bit smarter in the way we present our wines. We're becoming more cluey in terms of what our targeted trade and consumers want, and we're tailoring ourselves more to those targets.'

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WID 2017