|Grapegrower & Winemaker||Wine & Viticulture Journal||Wine Industry Directory||
||Daily Wine News||
Jeff Bond – a licence to thrill
'MY NAME IS Bond. Jeff Bond.'
Nah, he didn't actually say that but only, I remain convinced, because he didn't want to come across as a complete tosser.
For surely the temptation must always be just one slip of the tongue away. Exquisitely, almost painfully, overwhelming to just once drop it into an otherwise deep and meaningful conversation.
All the while exuding that air of the uber cool. Reaching for the battered Ronson to light up the Macedonian special blend from Morland of Grosvenor Street, never glancing down at the stack of chips being shuffled with one hand on the baize of the roulette table.
Yep, whichever way you come at it, the whole idea just screams tosser.
Which is almost certainly why Peter Lehmann Wines chief executive Jeff Bond (who also lacks a Scottish accent) got straight down to the business of talking about his business.
Specifically, how well it is going.
Instead of Monte Carlo the conversation was at a coffee shop in Adelaide's chic - but not yet uber chic - eastern café strip.
And with Bond on a schedule because, amongst other pressing issues, as it were, the company's Swiss owners were coming to town and everything up in the Barossa needed to be spick and span.
And Bond, who has come to PLW via the global circuit of the high-end spirits industry, got his hand on the rudder just in time to try and steer it through the depths of the industry's current supply malaise.
Trotting around the world with the likes of Remy and Constellation might have been a hoot but Bond had a long-time affinity with wine and that's where he wanted to be.
So when the transition came with the retirement of Doug Lehmann, Bond was front and centre for the opportunity to land his dream job.
'I am really attracted by both the agricultural side of the business and the fact we go end to end, there aren't many jobs where you can say you do that,' Bond said.
'There is a real craft to what people do here, not unlike the work I had seen being done with whiskey and cognac,' he said.
'But with wine there is that something special, and with PLW that something is very special.
'Peter himself was an industry icon and the time I had to talk with him, and talk about what we were doing, was irreplaceable.
'Doug, who had been successfully running the business for 20 years, was a winemaker and a wizard and he has passed on so much to me.
'Although Hess Family Wine Estates now owns PLW, the Lehmanns are still shareholders and that is a valuable connection for us.'
A big part of that value according to Bond was the actual production skills of the business were without equal so the mechanics of the business were going to be the least of his concerns when he got the job.
His focus is strategic and developing the future sustainability of the business and the brand.
'The wine industry has grown so big, so fast, and now that has caught up with it we are all going through a massive transition,' Bond said.
'There is still a lot of money to be made by the smart people with the right products - and of course that will be really helped if our dollar keeps going down,' he added.
'But what I think did get lost in the explosion of the Australian industry onto the world stage was that we made wine too simple and now we are trying to build back that complexity and brand power.
'The reason why people should pay more for a better product.'
At the peak of the wine boom, circa 2010, PLW was exporting 70 per cent of its 700,000-case production.
Bond admitted it was a heady success and it wasn't until the Australian dollar really started to soar that the wine industry got its wake up call.
But for too many it was too late.
'We have been working hard to rebalance our business with a stronger domestic market where currency is never a risk and things are easier to control,' he said.
'Like most people we lost a lot of export sales and even though we have significantly improved our domestic sales it has still not made up for what we no longer have overseas.
'The key for us is to sell more but at a higher price point. We are talking the premiumisation of the brand. Not selling just $100 wines, but focusing on wines at the $20-$30 mark instead of being bashed around at the cheap end of the market.
This is not where our strength lies.
That said, neither Bond nor PLW have any problem with Australia's supermarket duopoly.
As he said, they are a big part of Australia's retail scene and have a legitimate role and PLW is 'happy with the way they do business'.
'We have a space where they don't want to play and that's fine, but we are also working closely with our independent customers also.
'It's all part of our repositioning, which has included a review of our brand labels across the PLW portfolio, the most noticeable being that famous profile of Peter Lehmann.
'And the Hess family has also been incredibly supportive of PLW's move to offset its power costs through the design and installation of an extensive solar power project.
'Due to be switched on this month, it will generate 125kW at our Tanunda headquarters.'
Bond believes PLW's refocus with its rebranding sends a clear message of what the business is all about.
And unlike many other producers trying to solve their current problems, PLW is not tripping over itself to strike it big in the Chinese market - just yet.
Bond said their target is the North American market, which he still describes as the largest wine market in the world.
'We have the benefit of a sister company in the Hess group as our distributor in North America, which is a real advantage for us.
'China is more of a long-term play with all wine producers there coming off a very small base in a market which is very different to ours.'
The ownership of PLW might have changed but Bond said there was this constant still flowing through it today.
Because it has gone from being a family business to being owned by another family business.
That alone meant there was a long-term view with the Hess family also owning wine assets in other countries.
'Christoph Ehrbar is our chairman and he has been working in the family business for some time,' Bond said.
'Both he and Timothy Persson, who are Donald Hess' sons-in-law, are operational, they understand what is going on and they know what the market is like.
'Unlike a publicly-listed company where the demand for immediate returns, and getting them bigger every year rules, the Hess family sees long term, which can stretch to multi-generational, not just 10 years or so.
'With their expertise it is always good to have them here because they see things with fresh eyes and from a European perspective and that has already proved very helpful.
'To have that understanding at board and owner level is really very useful.'
Hess Family Wines Estates began in 1844 as a brewery and apple juice company. Donald Hess inherited the business - which now included a small winery - when only 20.
'It made horrible wine that more resembled vinegar,' he told Meininger's magazine last year. 'Of our four vignerons, two were alcoholics.'
Today the business consists of wineries across four continents producing almost 60 brands.
And Jeff Bond is just as determined that PLW, the most recent acquisition into this diverse stable, will soon be setting the pace.
Now that would be cool. Uber cool.
Contact: Jeff Bond. Phone: 61 8 8565 9550. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other feature articles
- Natalie Fryar, Winemaker, Jansz Tasmania
- Angelo Puglisi, Ballandean Estate, Queensland
- Dave Cleary, West Cape Howe Wines, WA
- Kim Chalmers, Chalmers Nurseries, NSW
- Tiffany Nugan, Nugan Estate, NSW
- Doug Bowen, Bowen Estate, SA
- Drew Brent-White, Windance Estate, WA
- Ian Hollick, Hollick Wines, SA
- Andrew Nugent, Bird in Hand Winery, SA
- Jim Chatto, Pepper Tree Wines, NSW
- Tony Keys, The Key Files
- Forum in pursuit of Pinot excellence
- Andrew Naylor, Pernod Ricard, NZ
- Samantha Scarratt, Fishtail Vineyards, New Zealand
- Adam Hooper and Elena Golakova, La Curio, SA
- Kathleen Quealy, T’Gallant/Balnarring Vineyard/Quealy Wine, VIC
- Richard Smart, Tamar Ridge Wines, TAS
- Terry Lee
- Ben Glover, Wither Hills, NZ
- David Fonseca Guimaraens, Fonseca and Taylor’s Port, Portugal
- Sam Temme, Lloyd Brothers, SA
- Peter May
- Colin Kay, Kay Brothers Amery, SA
- Mark Deegenaars, Sirromet Wines, QLD
- Peter Dry, University of Adelaide, SA
- Simon Thistlewood, Bimbadgen Estate, NSW
- David Lehmann, Barossa Valley, SA
- Mark Lloyd, Coriole Vineyards, McLaren Vale, SA
- Tom Harvey, Chalk Hill, SA
- Albarino – potentially Australia’s great white hope
- Ian Hendy, Tahbilk, VIC
- Oak trials instigated to create the right balance
- Jason Conti, Paul Conti Wines, WA
- Swan Valley goes organic in its approach to wine production
- 100-year-old vines saved from destruction
- Paul Boulden, Margaret River, WA
- Pinot trophy wine a close call
- Grenache finds its place in the spotlight
- Ashley Ratcliff, Yalumba Wine Company, SA
- Lessons from a fiery day in February
- Prolific Penfolds takes a double triumph
- Great win for Tatachilla Shiraz
- Ian Long, Yarraman Estate, NSW
- Capercaillie looks to future
- Tolley leaves AWBC in good shape
- Julian Parrot, Mandala Wines, NSW
- Yarra Valley’s Sticks grows up
- Rebuilding Bianchet Winery
- Kalleskes take organic grapegrowing to heart
- Vineyards benefit from WWOOF program
- Organic producer in touch with the earth
- BackVintage adopts integrated IT solution
- Lark Hill achieves full biodynamic certification
- Joseph Gilbert of Pewsey Vale – early maker of the classic Australian blend
- Sam Statham, Rosnay Wines, NSW
- Young achiever to study in USA
- Evolving Durif at Morris Wines
- Diane Miller, The Vintage Wineworx, WA
- NZ’s star producer guided by the cosmos
- On the rise: Pinot Gris secures its place
- Killeen wins Winetitles’ scholarship
- Rebecca Wilson, Tamar Valley, TAS
- Liz Riley, Vitibit, Hunter Valley
- The Gilberts of Pewsey Vale: the next generation
- Mark Cairns, Riverside Wines, Hawke’s Bay
- Craigow wins Tasmanian Vineyard of the Year
- Cornwall’s Camel Valley sets Sparkling pace in the UK
- Fred Peacock, Bream Creek Vineyard, Tasmania
- Arneis a winner, no matter how you say it
- WA’s Vanya Cullen named ‘woman of the year’
- McWilliams Mount Pleasant Estate award-winning cellar door
- Planning eases heatwave burden for Mount Horrocks
- Supplier of the Year proves customer service goes a long way
- Meet Ken Murchison
- The journey of Tempranillo to Australia
- Successful events have wineries bursting into song
- Jim Barry Wines winemaker chooses biodynamic option
- Meet Belinda Gould
- Hard grind is paying off for Sangiovese
- Biodynamic viticulture benefits Nazaraay Estate Winery
- Monitoring the key to reducing water use
- Consistently improving the quality and reputation of Australian Cabernet
- Making sure vines are true to type
- Lessons from the drought
- A story of Cuban cigars and a good nose
- A Murray Valley winery has released one of Australia’s first 100% carbon-neutral wines
- John Casella: The brains behind the brand
- Quality Tasmanian Pinot Noir stems from varying degrees of stalk removal
- Young leader forecasts positive future for Australian viticulture businesses
- China’s light shines on Aussie export radar
- Driving the blue bus of industry exposure
- Noble wine proves sweet for Australian wine industry
- Solar energy schemes lack uniformity in Australia
- Solutions for the wine industry’s fiddlier labelling jobs
- Carbon neutrality: The new black
- An understanding of excellence: James Irvine and his life in wine
- Can Australia overcome a harsh reality in the US
- Cape Mentelle treats itself to first place
- Aussies export their expert advice to China
- Bruce Tyrell: the Don Quixote of Semillon
- Why the past could help unlock grape’s future
- Brazil opportunities beckon
- Cool wine regions to benefit from research on new pathogen
- Wineries embrace sensory analysis
- Author reveals first steps to marketing magic
- China - emerging market or competitor?
- Young Vine Decline is studied closely in NSW
- Is the Shiraz berry the biggest loser?
- Small players the big winners for tomorrow’s vineyard
- Save money and wine by choosing the right bentonite
- Significant variations in an Iconic Coonawarra vineyard lead to radical solutions
- Sustainable pest control – now and in a changing climate
- Is there value in adding tannin to wine?
- How do country of origin, closure type and label style affect purchase decisions?
- City sellers
- Selective science – from the vineyard to the winery
- Change agenda includes new thinking
- WineCloud provides future direction for winemakers
- The iron(III) tartrate photochemistry of wine: impacts of bottle colour and weight
- How important are wine medals and how much can we rely on those who assign them?
- Big rewards in fine detail
- Italian inspiration for novel Nero d’Avola making
- Oak deserves its fine environmental credentials
- Machinery maintenance is key to vintage success
- Wine: does vine age really matter?
- SA wineries make a positive and lasting impression
- Magazine pages bring history to life for Rutherglen grower
- Coles tells small wineries to ‘work with us’
- Distinguished vineyard sites are essential for quality fruit production says Petaluma
- From vine to bottle: sustainability a core value for Barossa winery
- Adapt and innovate in a challenging wine business world
- Verduzzo - a 'crazy' white
- Australia’s grapevine germplasm collections under threat
- Expo offers suppliers a chance to shine
- Wineries celebrate end of vintage
- Artisan by name and nature
- Barossa symposium delivers tips for Shiraz vineyard management
- Research to reveal best irrigation practice in dry winters
- Lake’s Folly proves its credentials over 50 years
- New research sheds light on flavour additives in wine
- It’s a three-ringed circus
- Trying to paint the world red
- Where do little winemakers come from?
- A chip off the old block
- The rise and rise of Gatt Wines
- Bizot and Croser – a marriage made in the vineyard
- Wine’s wild man rides into town
- Jeff Bond – a licence to thrill
- The Visionary – who’s laughing now
- Chilling out in Australian wine’s own Ice Age
- Quarter of our wines face Chinese ban
- Four-year research project investigates early influence of oxygen
- Australian winemakers’ views towards oak barrel alternatives matures
- Ready…set…tweet! How you can bank your social media benefits
- Wine show season: It seems not all wine shows would earn a gold medal
- January 2015 Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine out now
- Smart & Sustainable: Jana Shepherd
- Lazy bones: Jo Perry’s ironic nickname
- Can’t sit still: Bleasdale’s energiser bunny
- Meet New Zealand’s best young viti
- Suzie Muntz
- Clare Burder: Ideas are nothing without action
- Steve Baraglia: A tale of two valleys
- The terror of terroir - By Tony Keys